Amnesty International Marks New Campaign on Repression of Academic Freedom in Iran with Program in Washington D.C.

Press Release
November 4, 2013

Amnesty International Marks New Campaign on Repression of Academic Freedom in Iran with Program in Washington D.C.

Contact: Carol Gregory, cgregory@aiusa.org, 202-675-8759, @AIUSAmedia

(WASHINGTON D.C) - To mark its new campaign on repression of academic freedom in Iran, Amnesty International will be sponsoring a program to highlight the persecution of students and scholars in Iran at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. on November 16.

The program will focus on the persecution of scientists and scholars in Iran, and highlight the case of Omid Kokabee, a talented young physicist doing postgraduate work at UT Austin, who was sentenced to ten years in Iran's notorious Evin Prison for allegedly conspiring with enemies of Iran and receiving "illegitimate funds." Panelists will include: Dr. Eugene Chudnovsky, co-chair of the Committee of Concerned Scientists and Distinguished Professor of Physics at the City University of New York; Dr. Arash Alaei, prominent HIV/AIDS researcher and former prisoner of conscience in Iran, SUNY Albany; Dr. Herb Berk, professor of physics, University of Texas, Austin and Omid Kokabee's campus advocate; Dr. Bernd Kaussler, professor of Political Science, James Madison University; Rudi Bakhtiar, journalist and former CNN correspondent; Dr. Hossein Sadeghpour, chair, Committee for International Freedom of Scientists (CIFS), American Physical Society and Director, Institute for Theoretical Atomic Molecular and Optical Physics (ITAMP), Harvard University and will be moderated by Jessica Wyndham of the AAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program.

The event, is also being co-sponsored by The Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, American Physical Society, United4Iran, Committee of Concerned Scientists, Georgetown University Amnesty International, and Georgetown University Science and Human Rights Group will take place Saturday, November 16 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Georgetown University's ICC Auditorium, 37th and O Street NW in Washington, D.C. This event is free and open to the public.

Amnesty International's upcoming campaign addresses the pervasive repression of academic freedom in Iran. Iranian authorities use a variety of means to punish students and academics for their perceived dissenting views and activities. Students are banned from participating in higher education solely because of their political activities or beliefs or their assumed political beliefs. Other methods include the imposition of harsh prison sentences on student activists and scholars, the harassment and detention of teachers for involvement in teachers associations, and the expulsion or hounding of academics from their university positions. Meanwhile, members of Iran's Baha'i religious minority are systematically excluded from higher education and female students encounter restrictions on their ability to enroll in certain degree programs in which the government wants to limit their representation.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million members in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.