Harvard University Awards Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali Scholars at Risk Fellowship

Posted December 17, 2020

The Scholars at Risk Secretariat welcomes news that Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali, a Swedish-Iranian scholar at risk of execution, has been awarded a Scholars at Risk (SAR) Fellowship at Harvard University. SAR is grateful to Harvard University for offering this position to Dr. Djalali during this deeply worrying time for Dr. Djalali and his family. Harvard SAR Program Director Jane Unrue says “Harvard is proud to award Dr. Djalali a Scholars at Risk Fellowship, in recognition of his years of trailblazing expertise in the field of disaster medicine.”

The fellowship supports Dr. Djalali’s acceptance into the BIDMC Fellowship in Disaster Medicine. The position at BIDMC includes an academic appointment as a Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School. In the award letter, Gregory R. Ciottone, Director of the Division of Disaster Medicine, described Dr. Djalali as “a strong academician and leader. As a Disaster Medicine fellow, you will represent all of us through your academic diligence, professionalism, and conduct.”

“The SAR Fellowship at Harvard University speaks to the importance of and need for Dr. Djalali’s academic work, helping to underline the many contributions he has and can continue to make to academia and medicine,” says SAR Advocacy Director Clare Robinson. “It also offers moral support at a critical time for Dr. Djalali—a time when he awaits possible execution.”

On November 24, 2020, Iranian authorities put Dr. Djalali in solitary confinement and began preparations to carry out his death sentence. While the execution has been postponed twice since then, Dr. Djalali remains in solitary confinement and vulnerable to the death sentence. Ms. Robinson says that this Fellowship should show Iranian authorities that Dr. Djalali is a highly respected scholar and that “Iran and the rest of the world would greatly benefit from his expertise and scientific work.”

Dr. Djalali teaches at Karolinska University, in Sweden. He has held similar positions at the Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale, in Italy; and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, in Belgium. In April 2016, Iranian authorities arrested Dr. Djalali during a trip to Iran to participate in a series of academic workshops. On October 21, 2017, Dr. Djalali was sentenced to death for “corruption on earth,” based on unsubstantiated allegations that he had provided intelligence to the Israeli authorities. Dr. Djalali has disputed the allegations, asserting that his ties to the international academic community are the basis of his prosecution. SAR understands that Dr. Djalali has been denied the right to appeal the conviction and sentence, and has suffered from torture, ill-treatment, and a growing number of medical complications while in state custody.


About Scholars at Risk: Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of over 500 higher education institutions and thousands of individuals in 39 countries that is leading the charge in protecting and offering sanctuary to threatened scholars and students. SAR’s mission is to protect higher education communities and their members from violent and coercive attacks, and by doing so to expand the space in society for reason and evidence-based approaches to resolving conflicts and solving problems. SAR meets this mission through direct protection of individuals, advocacy aimed at preventing attacks and increasing accountability, and research and learning initiatives that promote academic freedom and related values. SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project identifies and reports attacks on higher education to protect vulnerable scholars and students, hold perpetrators accountable, and prevent future violations. Learn more by emailing scholarsatrisk@nyu.edu.

About Harvard-SAR: “The Scholars at Risk Program at Harvard has been the largest, most vigorously active, and most successful program of its kind in the country, and perhaps in the world. A member of an international network of participating universities, Harvard SAR has provided sanctuary to dozens of professors, lecturers, researchers, artists, writers, and other intellectuals who are at risk. The risk may be related to the scholar’s work, but it may also be a consequence of the scholar’s ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political opinions. By supplying ten-month academic positions to excellent and accomplished scholars in need, Harvard SAR helps scholars to escape dangerous conditions and to continue their important work.”