Thursday, December 20, 2007


American Sociological Association letter to Iranian Authorities

December 18, 2007

Ayatollah Sayyid ‘Ali Khamenei

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

c/o H.E. Mohammad Khazaie
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017, USA
Fax: 212-867-7086
Fax: 98-251-7774-2228

Your Excellency:

We write on behalf of the more than 14,000 members of the American Sociological
Association (ASA), a scientific society of academic and professional sociologists, to
request freedom from detention for the Iranian university students recently detained or
arrested by government security forces in Tehran, Tabriz, Ahvaz, Shiraz, and elsewhere
in Iran until their cases can be adjudicated by an appropriate court. Many of them are
being held in Evin Prison in Tehran for protesting against the Iranian government, and we
urge that they be freed.

The imprisoned persons include sociology student Jelveh Javaheri and others who
advocate for the equal rights of women. While they are in your custody, we urge you to
use your good offices to guarantee their safety and freedom to confer with legal counsel.
We urge you to determine the circumstances of their detention, drop politically motivated
charges, and secure their immediate release.

As a party to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is required
to provide among other rights to its citizens, the: (1) Right to hold opinions without
interference (Article 19.1); (2) The right to freedom of expression; this right includes
freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds (Article 19.2); and
(3) Citizens are entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and
impartial tribunal established by law (Article 14). Under the Constitution of the Islamic
Republic of Iran (Article 23), individuals also have the right to freedom of thought,
opinion, and speech.

As a scientific organization, with an international membership, ASA is committed to
ensuring academic freedom, free exchange of ideas, and free expression, to all scholars
including those conducting research on sociological and related comparative studies of
culture and social institutions. Without governmental assurance of such intellectual
freedoms, a nation quickly becomes universally recognized as failing to ensure superior
scholarship and unwilling to protect its intellectual status in international cultural and
scientific arenas.

We are profoundly dismayed by the arrests of these students. We are hopeful that under
your leadership Iran will respond to avoid the harm this damage to intellectual and
scientific pursuits will do to your country at home and in the international community.

We appreciate your consideration of our concerns about of this apparent breach of Iran’s
commitments under International Conventions, and we urge you to ensure that all false or
politically based charges against these students will be dropped. The leaders and
members of the American Sociological Association consider this to be a matter of great

Arne L. Kalleberg, PhD
President, American Sociological Association
Kenan Distinguished Professor, and Director of International Programs, College of Arts
& Sciences, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Sally T. Hillsman, PhD
Executive Officer, American Sociological Association

cc: Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Bldg., Panzdah-Khordad Square
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98-21-3390-4986,

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency, Palestine Ave., Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Mr. Mohammad Hassan Zia’i-Far
Secretary of the Islamic Republic Human Rights Commission
Fax: +44-20-8904-5183,

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