Iran: Free Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal!

Posted February 11, 2020

Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal are researchers at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) who have been wrongfully detained in Iran since June 2019.

On February 11, 2020, Scholars at Risk joins 18 academic associations and human rights groups in calling for the immediate release of Dr. Adelkhah and Dr. Marchal and to protect the right to academic freedom in Iran and beyond.

Freedom for Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, academic prisoners in Iran

Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, two researchers affiliated to the Centre for International Studies (CERI) in Paris, have been in an Iranian prison since June 5, 2019. Alongside fifteen other foreign academics, they have been accused of political crimes: undermining national security, propaganda against the regime and spying.

Iran’s justice system has itself acknowledged the arbitrary nature of the allegations. In December a court ordered their conditional release and in January espionage charges against Fariba Adelkhah were dropped. Yet it is not justice, but Iran’s Revolutionary Guards who determine their fate and harsh conditions of detention.

On 24 December Fariba Adelkhah began a hunger strike. With Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian-British academic incarcerated since 2018, she refused food in defense of legal rights and academic freedom throughout the Middle East. Their pleas have successfully highlighted the plight of all academic prisoners. After six weeks of starvation, Fariba Adelkhah’s health is now in a critical condition.

Despite international publicity and outcry, the academics face acute danger. Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal may soon be brought before Tehran’s Revolutionary Tribunal. There are strong reasons to believe that this trial will not be impartial.

The ‘shadow power’ of the Revolutionary Guards ultimately rests,
constitutionally, on the Supreme Guide of the Revolution. This is why we formally address him, on this Tuesday 11th of February, the day commemorating the 1979 revolution, to ask him to save the Islamic Republic from the shame of injustice by ordering the Revolutionary Guards to free Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal and all others unjustly detained.

From the depths of Evin prison, Fariba Adelkhah poignantly has called upon us to “save researchers, in order to save research and preserve our history”. This appeal concerns not only the Islamic Republic and the whole Middle East, but academics throughout the world. For there will be no free and fair society without academic freedom.



Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship, Lebanon

Association Française de Science Politique, France

Swiss Political Science Association, Switzerland

Centre d’Étude des Crises et des Conflits Internationaux, Belgium

Centre d’Études et de Recherche Internationales, Canada

Centre de Recherche sur l’Action Politique de l’Université de Lausanne, Switzerland

Centre de Recherche et d’Étude sur les Sociétés Contemporaines (CRESC), Morocco

German Political Science Association, Germany

European Consortium for Political Research

Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Économiques et Sociaux, Tunisia

Freedom Now, Morocco

Groupe Jeunes Chercheurs en Sciences Sociales, Morocco

Middle East Studies Association of North America

Pan African Anthropology Association

Réseau Européen d’Analyse des Sociétés Politiques

Scholars at Risk

Swiss Society for African Studies, Switzerland

South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal

Universitaires pour la paix/Academics for Peace, Turkey


This issue was also supported by:

Association des Chercheur.e.s de Politique Africaine

Association Française d’Ethnologie et d’Anthropologie

African Studies Association

Cedej Khartoum (Centre for social, legal and economic studies and documentation in Sudan)

Centre de recherches internationales/Centre for International Studies

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

Center for Socio-Political Data, Sciences Po

Centre Français de Recherche en Sciences Sociales

Committee of Concerned Scientists

Conférence des Présidents d’Université

École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales

Endangered Scholars Worldwide

European Association of Social Anthropology

Fondation de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme

Fonds d’Analyse des Sociétés Politiques

The Graduate Institute Geneva

Groupement d’Intérêt Scientifique Études Africaines en France

Institut des Hautes Études sur la Justice

Institut des Mondes Africains

Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales

International Sociological Association

Les Afriques dans le Monde

Revue Internationale de Politique de Développement/International Development Policy

Sciences Po, Paris

Società Italiana di Filosofia Politica

Società Italiana di Scienza Politica

Université de Lausanne

Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne

Université de Strasbourg

Université Paris Nanterre


Non-academic organisations supporting:

Association Tunisienne de Défense des Libertés, Tunisia

Association Tunisienne des Femmes Démocrates, Tunisia

Beity, Tunisia

Centre des Défenseurs des Droits de l’Homme, Libya

Comité Pour le Respect des Libertés et Droits de l’Homme en Tunisie

Ligue Tunisienne des Droits de l’Homme, Tunisia

Parti Radical Italien

Syndicat National des Journalistes Tunisiens

Vigilance Pour la Démocratie et l’État Civique, Tunisia