Dr. Meimanat Hosseini-Chavoshi, a population expert at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health in Australia was arrested and Dr. Mohammad Jalal Abbasi- Shavazi, Director, National Population Research Institute Iran, a scholar in the field of family planning and was called in for police questioning for accusations of “infiltration” of Iran for the alleged purpose of obstructing government efforts to increase Iran’s birth rate.
There does not appear to be anything that either scholar could have done that would have been deemed criminal. CCS has written the Ayatollah requesting an explanation of what Dr. Hosseini-Chavoshi could have done that is deemed criminal and for information on the status of Dr. Abbasi-Shavazi. CCS has requested that their fundamental rights be respected and if not charged with a legitimate criminal offense that any charges be dismissed and both be released.
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
Head of the Judiciary
c/o Public Relations Office
Number 4, Deadend of 1 Azizi
Above Pasteur Intersection
Vali Asr Street
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write to express our concern for Dr. Meimanat Hosseini-Chavoshi, who has been arrested, and Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi, who has been ordered to submit to police questioning. Dr. Hosseini-Chavoshi is a population expert at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health in Australia, and is a dual Australian and Iranian national.
Both she and Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi are scholars in the field of family planning who face vague accusations of “infiltration” of Iran for the alleged purpose of obstructing government efforts to increase Iran’s birth rate.
It is well known that Iran since 2014 has begun to restrict family planning programs, but it is hard to understand what Dr. Hosseini-Chavoshi or Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi might have done that could legitimately be considered criminal. The accusation of “infiltration”, which appears to be used increasingly to justify the arrest or detention of academics, is unacceptably broad, and we write to seek more information as to what specific laws Dr. Meimanat Hosseini-Chavoshi is alleged to have violated, as well as more information on the current legal status of Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi.
As an international community of scholars, we believe it is imperative that the fundamental rights of our colleagues Dr. Meimanat Hosseini-Chavoshi and Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi are respected.
Unless Dr. Meimanat Hosseini-Chavoshi is charged with a legitimate criminal offense, she must be released immediately and unconditionally. We further urge you to respect the principles of academic freedom and allow Dr. Hosseini-Chavoshi and Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi to continue their academic work without harassment or intimidation.
We thank you for your attention to this most serious matter, and we look forward to receiving your response.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
H.E. Gholamali Khoshroo
Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of
Iran to the United Nations
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 687-2020
Fax: (212) 867-7086
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian)