The Iranian holiday Nowruz (نوروز or “new day”) is an ancient holiday that takes place on the first day of spring to celebrate the new year. Each Nowruz, Scholars at Risk partners with Amnesty International for their #NowruzAction Campaign, an effort to remember prisoners of conscience and political prisoners in Iran.
This year, SAR will write to Iranian prisoners of conscience Ahmadreza Djalali, Xiyue Wang, and Hamid Babaei to share Nowruz cheer and raise awareness about their cases. We ask that you join us by writing a brief, non-political Nowruz greeting on a spring-themed card to be sent to these courageous scholars. Nowruz is a time of renewal and letters should be sent with the intent of giving these scholars a sense of acknowledgement and hope. For security purposes, please do not mention Scholars at Risk, Amnesty International, specifics of the recipient’s case, or the political situation, human rights or U.S.-Iran relations.
Before mailing your Nowruz card, take a photo with your card visible and it to social media. Make sure to tag Amnesty-Iran (@AmnestyIran) and SAR (@ScholarsatRisk), and use #NowruzAction in your post so we can further spread the message.
Send your Nowruz greetings via Scholars at Risk and we will securely pass them on to the scholars’ families:
Scholars at Risk
c/o New York University
411 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003
Dr. Djalali is an Iranian-born resident of Sweden, who teaches at universities in Italy and Belgium, and whose work involves frequent international scientific collaboration. While visiting Iran in 2016 to participate in a series of academic workshops, Dr. Djalali was arrested and later convicted of “corruption on earth” and sentenced to death in apparent retaliation for refusing to spy on his European colleagues. He was then denied the right to appeal his sentence. SAR is gravely concerned about the arrest, imprisonment, and impending death sentence of Dr. Djalali and the lack of apparent due process in his case.
Xiyue Wang is a fourth-year PhD candidate at Princeton University, specializing in 19th- and 20th-century Eurasian history. In the summer of 2016, in connection with his doctoral dissertation, he traveled to Iran to research the Qajar dynasty, conducting research in Iran’s National Archives and other libraries on public records dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries. He was arrested and later sentenced to ten years in prison for “infiltration,” based on allegations that Mr. Wang had gathered intelligence for the US State Department. SAR is concerned about the arbitrary arrest and prosecution of Mr. Wang in apparent retaliation for the non-violent exercise of the right to academic freedom.
Doctoral student of finance Hamid Babaei is serving a six-year prison sentence for allegedly “acting against national security by communicating with a hostile government.” Authorities have used the scholarship funding Hamid received from the University of Leige for his PhD as evidence in support of the charge. SAR is concerned that Mr. Babaei was sentenced in retaliation for his refusal to spy on Iranian students in Belgium. Further, SAR is concerned about the continued deterioration of Hamid’s health as a result of improper access to medical care.