Scholars at Risk sent the below letter to Iran’s higher education, research, and science sectors, urging them to do all in their power to help secure the immediate release of Ali Younesi and Amirhossein Moradi. Mr. Younesi and Mr. Moradi are students at Sharif University of Technology who have been imprisoned for almost two years. They face harsh charges in apparent retaliation for their alleged nonviolent expressive activity and associations and if convicted, could face the death sentence.
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The Honorable Ali Zolfigol
Minister of Science, Research and Technology
Islamic Republic of Iran
March 31, 2022
RE: Intervene to Help Sharif University of Technology Students
I write on behalf of Scholars at Risk to express grave concern over the detention and prosecution of Sharif University of Technology (SUT) students Ali Younesi and Amirhossein Moradi, based on alleged nonviolent expressive activity and associations. The students have been detained for nearly two years, during which they have suffered from ill-treatment, solitary confinement, and interrogation under duress. We respectfully urge you to take any available action to intervene on behalf of Mr. Younesi and Mr. Moradi to help secure their immediate release so they may continue their education.
Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of more than 600 universities and colleges in 42 countries dedicated to protecting the human rights of scholars around the world, and to raising awareness, understanding of, and respect for the principles of academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of expression, opinion, thought, association, and travel. In cases like this, involving alleged infringement of these freedoms, SAR investigates, hoping to clarify and resolve matters favorably.
Mr. Younesi and Mr. Moradi are both award-winning students at SUT. Mr. Younesi, a computer engineering student, won gold medals in the Iranian National Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad and the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics. Mr. Moradi, a physics student, also medaled in the Iranian National Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad.
SAR understands that on April 10, 2020, agents from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence arrested Mr. Younesi and Mr. Moradi and remanded them into custody at Evin Prison. The Ministry of Intelligence informed Mr. Younesi, Mr. Moradi, and their families that the two students were accused of association with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), an opposition group based in Albania, apparently based on alleged family ties to the PMOI. Authorities also accused them of participating in nationwide protests in January 2020 and removing posters of Iranian officials from the SUT campus. Mr. Younesi and Mr. Moradi have denied these allegations. Both students were subsequently held in solitary confinement for 60 days, and subject to beatings and other forms of ill-treatment, including “white room torture”–complete sensory deprivation and isolation–and the use of blindfolds. Authorities have denied Mr. Younesi access to appropriate medical care to treat his left eye, which was injured from beatings.
Intelligence agents repeatedly interrogated the students and attempted to extract “confessions.” On July 3, 2021, Mr. Younesi and Mr. Moradi were charged with “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security,” “spreading propaganda against the system,” and “corruption on earth.” If convicted, Mr. Younesi and Mr. Moradi could face heavy sentences, including the death sentence.
SAR is deeply concerned by the arrest, prosecution, and ill-treatment of Mr. Younesi and Mr. Moradi. Beyond the grave harm to these two rising scholars, the state’s treatment of Mr. Younesi and Mr. Moradi raises alarm over the ability of students to pursue higher education in Iran without fear of persecution for alleged political expression or associations. Indeed, their treatment suggests an effort by state authorities to deter students from engaging in nonviolent expressive activity that is critical of the government. Such repression and political persecution risks starving Iran of scholars and students who excel in their fields and wish to contribute to Iranian science, academia, and society.
I therefore respectfully urge you to take any available action to intervene on behalf of Mr. Younesi and Mr. Moradi to ensure their well-being and to secure their immediate release so they may continue their education.
I appreciate your attention to this important matter and look forward to your reply.
The Honorable Sorena Sattari
Vice President for Science & Technology Affairs & Head of the National Elites Foundation
Islamic Republic of Iran
The Honorable Rassol Jalili
President, Sharif University of Technology
The Honorable Alireza Aghaee
Inspector, Iranian Physics Association
The Honorable Reza Reazai
Chief Inspector, Iranian Astronomical Society
The Honorable Elham Darmanki Farahani
Investigator, Computer Society of Iran
The Honorable Vahid Ahmadi
Chair, IEEE Iran Section
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The Honorable Reza Faraji-Dana
Chair of the Board, Iranian Society of Engineering Education