Scholars at Risk calls for letters on behalf of Mr. Omid Kokabee of Iran

Scholars at Risk calls for letters on behalf of Mr. Omid Kokabee of Iran
May 24, 2012   

Scholars at Risk calls for letters on behalf of Mr. Omid Kokabee of Iran, a doctoral student and physicist. SAR is concerned about the recently-imposed ten-year prison sentence against Mr. Kokabee. SAR asks for letters, faxes and emails urging the appropriate authorities to ensure that Mr. Kokabee receives a fair appeal hearing and that convictions related to his academic activities are reconsidered.

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of over 280 universities and colleges in 34 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 thought, opinion, expression, association and travel. In cases involving alleged infringement of these freedoms, SAR intervenes hoping to clarify and resolve matters favorably.

Mr. Omid Kokabee holds two advanced degrees in photonics and is an accomplished experimental laser physicist and doctoral student at the University of Texas, Austin. Scholars at Risk understands that Mr. Kokabee was arrested in February 2011 at Tehran airport after visiting his parents over the winter break. After 15 months in detention, reports indicate that Mr. Kokabee was sentenced on May 13, 2012 to ten years in prison for allegedly communicating with a foreign government. It is reported that no evidence in support of these charges was presented at the trial, and that Mr. Kokabee has repeatedly denied the charges.

The suddenness of Mr. Kokabee’s arrest in February without clear public explanation, his prolonged detention and conviction without evidence suggest a disregard of international standards of due process, fair trial and detention, as guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is signatory. Taking into account arrests of academics throughout Iran following the June 2009 election, Mr. Kokabee’s prolonged detention and conviction suggest a wider attempt to intimidate intellectuals and to limit academic freedom in Iran—a suggestion Scholars at Risk finds particularly distressing and unfortunate, given Iran’s rich intellectual history and traditional support for the values of scholarship and free inquiry. SAR finds this even more distressing given the current tensions in the region and the world, which appear to warrant more rather than fewer exchanges and discussions among scholars inside and outside of Iran. 

Scholars at Risk therefore joins with the many national and international academic associations, human rights organizations and individual scholars in respectfully urging the appropriate authorities to ensure that Iran’s obligations under international law are upheld with regard to Mr. Kokabee. SAR respectfully urges authorities to intervene to ensure Mr. Kokabee’s well-being while in custody, including ensuring regular access to legal counsel of his choosing, to family and to medical treatment. SAR urges authorities to ensure that Mr. Kokabee receives a fair opportunity to appeal this recent sentence before an impartial tribunal, that any charges or convictions related to his academic activities are lifted, and that in the interim, his case is addressed in a manner consistent with internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial and detention, in accordance with Iran’s obligations under international law.

Scholars at Risk invites letters, emails and faxes be sent:

-respectfully urging authorities to ensure that Iran’s obligations under international law are upheld with regard to Mr. Kokabee;

-respectfully urging authorities to intervene to ensure Mr. Kokabee’s well-being while in custody, including ensuring regular access to legal counsel of his choosing, to family and to medical treatment;

-respectfully urging authorities to ensure that Mr. Kokabee receives a fair opportunity to appeal this recent sentence before an impartial tribunal; and

-respectfully urging authorities to ensure that any charges or convictions related to his academic activities are lifted, and that in the interim, his case is addressed in a manner consistent with internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial and detention, in accordance with Iran’s obligations under international law.

PLEASE WRITE TO:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
c/o H.E. Mr. Mohammad Khazaee
Ambassador of Iran to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017, USA
Email: iran@un.int
Fax: +1 (212) 867-7086

COPIES TO:

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh
(Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave. (south of Serah-e Jomhouri)
Tehran 1316814737
Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info@dadgostary-tehran.ir

 

The Honorable Hillary Clinton 
United States Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State 
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520 USA

 

Committee of Concerned Scientists
Email: sophiecook@earthlink.net

The Honorable Navanethem Pillay
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

The Honorable _________
Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to [YOUR COUNTRY]
[POSTAL ADDRESS]
[FAX]
[EMAIL]
(See http://www.mfa.gov.ir/cms/cms/Tehran/en/Missions/ for a list of Iranian embassies worldwide.)

The Honorable _________
Ambassador of [YOUR COUNTRY] to the Islamic Republic of Iran
[POSTAL ADDRESS]
[FAX]
[EMAIL]

Scholars at Risk
New York University
194 Mercer Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10012, USA
scholarsatrisk@nyu.edu
Fax: +1 212-995-4402

To view a model letter of appeal, as well as a copy of SAR's letter, please visit: http://scholarsatrisk.nyu.edu/Education-Advocacy/Alerts-Scholars-in-Prison.php.