Taher Ghadirian and Houman Jowkar serve on the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Morad Tahbaz and Niloufar Bayani are widely respected conservation scientists. All of these work with the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation and were arrested in January and could face execution for their work. In addition, five other scientists were previously arrested, and one, Kavous Seyed-Emami, co-founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation died while in prison. All are being accused of spying for the use of normal scientific, environmental equipment – the use of camera traps. CCS is calling for the immediate release of these eight environmentalists and an investigation into the death of Seyed-Emami.
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 are very concerned about four widely respected conservation scientists being detained in Iran – Taher Ghadirian, Houman Jowkar, Morad Tahbaz, and Niloufar Bayani. These scientists have been charged with capital offenses because their work – monitoring rare and disappearing wildlife – involves the use of camera traps.
The four, who work with the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, were arrested in January and could face execution.
Two of the men – Taher Ghadirian and Houman Jowkar – serve on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and all four are widely respected scientists. Five other scientists had previously been similarly arrested; one – Kavous Seyed-Emami, co-founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation – died in Evin Prison in February.
Not surprisingly, other scientists, understandably fearing for their safety, are leaving Iran. Iran’s government’s actions are profoundly damaging to their hopes for economic and educational progress with potentially irreversible and catastrophic consequences for Iran’s globally cherished environmental heritage. Recently, the Iranian government called for scientists who had fled the country to return to Iran. That request is falling on deaf ears as a result of actions such as these.
It makes no sense for the Iranian government to arrest our colleagues and threaten them with death for using standard tools that are used all over the world to monitor wildlife and facilitate environmental conservation. We urge the Ayatollah and Iranian authorities to see to it that the charges against all eight of these scientists are dropped and that they are released immediately and unconditionally.
Additionally, CCS is calling for an independent investigation into the death of Kavous Seyed-Emami, with its results made public and anyone found responsible be brought to justice.
We encourage any government officials, UN staff, environmentalists, scientists, academics to do whatever can be done to influence the release of these individuals.