Call for urgent action from prominent universities: “We must do everything in our power to save Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali’s life”

Monday, April 26, 2021 - 08:45

On the five-year anniversary of Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali’s arrest, Scholars at Risk (SAR) remains alarmed at his continued detention and repeated denial of medical care, and encourages immediate action to rectify the human rights violations surrounding his arrest, detention, and death sentence.
 
Dr. Djalali is a prominent scholar of disaster medicine who taught most recently at Karolinska Institute, in Sweden. He held similar positions at the Università del Piemonte Orientale, in Italy; and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, in Belgium.  Today those institutions have come together to once again call for his release.
 
SAR supports them in this action and calls on Iranian authorities to suspend the capital sentence issued against Dr. Djalali and to secure his immediate release so he may receive the medical care he urgently needs. 
 
To take action to support Dr. Djalali, join SAR’s campaign for him today.

Joint Statement:

Call for urgent action from prominent universities: "We must do everything in our power to save Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali's life"

Five years have passed since Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali, an esteemed Iranian-Swedish scholar of disaster medicine, was wrongfully imprisoned. To date the evidentiary basis for his arrest, death sentence, and continued detention remains undisclosed.

We, the Karolinska Institutet, the Università del Piemonte Orientale, and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, were privileged to count Dr. Djalali as a colleague, are once again publicly calling for his immediate release.

Dr. Djalali must be released now. His health is rapidly deteriorating. During his imprisonment, he has been repeatedly denied access to essential medical care, despite evidence that he is suffering from leukaemia. Throughout the pandemic he was held in a cell of about 30 square meters that he shared with fourteen other prisoners, until he was moved on November 24th, 2020, into complete isolation. After over 140 days in solitary confinement, Dr. Djalali was transferred back to a multiple-occupancy cell in Evin prison, where he remains under the constant threat of execution.

Authorities continue to deny Dr. Djalali access to his lawyer or family, raising grave concerns that the authorities may still be planning to carry out his execution in secret. Their refusal to provide Dr. Djalali access to appropriate medical care further suggests that they have resolved to allow him to die without having to explicitly execute him. 
This is unbearable for Dr. Djalali, as it is unbearable for his young family, and wife.

Dr. Djalali’s situation should concern scholars and society everywhere. He has been sentenced to death in apparent retaliation for international scholarly collaboration within his field of study. His wrongful prosecution and imprisonment, much like the wrongful prosecution and imprisonment of scholars and researchers like him, serves to endanger academic work, and deprives everyone of the benefits of scientific inquiry and exchange.

We, the Karolinska Institutet, the Università del Piemonte Orientale, and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, reiterate our appeal to secure Dr. Djalali’s unconditional release, so that he can return home to Sweden. We demand that authorities ensure that Dr. Djalali has immediate access to a qualified health professional, who can provide health care in compliance with medical ethics, including the principles of confidentiality, autonomy, and informed consent. We urge the international community to take immediate renewed action in response to the deteriorating situation that Dr. Djalali is currently in, and we urge the EU and the Member States to intercede in this case before it is too late.
We must do everything in our power to save Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali's life.

Prof. Ole Petter Ottersen, President, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Prof. Gian Carlo Avanzi, Rector, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Vercelli, Italy
Prof. Caroline Pauwels, Rector, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

26 April 2021

List of solidarity statements and coverage generated by the joint statement.

Read the press release from the Karolinska Institutet.
Article on Karolinska Institutet news page in support of the action.
The entire statement from the three universities is published in English on Ole Petter Ottersen's blog
SAR Sweden published the statement in English.
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, in Belgium, released the statement and a detailed background article.
Università del Piemonte Orientale published the statement in English.
La Sapienza published a statement in support of the action.
CRIMEDIM – Center for Research and Training in Disaster Medicine, Humanitarian Aid, and Global Health - Università del Piemonte Orientale published the statement here and here.
Università di Siena published a statement in support of the action in Italian.
Security Praxis published a statement in support.
SAR Italy published the statement in both English and Italian.
The University of Trieste published the statement in Italian.
Ddagens Medicin published awareness on the statement.
Läkarkarriär published an article.
Scuola Superiore di Catania posted support on their FB page, Instagram, and main website.
Università degli Studi de Catania published a statement in support in Italian.
Università di Genova published the statement of support in English and Italian.
Expressen published an article.
The University of Macerata posted on its Facebook and Twitter accounts the message calling for the liberation of Dr. Djalali.
Università Degli Studi Di Padova published a statement on their website.
Università Degli Studi Di Milano (UniMilano) posted messages on its Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The University of Trento published a press release and the statement.
Università degli Studi di Torino posted on their Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram.
The University of Pavia has published the notice on the CICOPS Facebook page.
Università di Siena published a statement in Italian on their website, Facebook and Twitter accounts.