On December 23rd, Fariba Adelkhah, an academic prisoner in Iran since June 5th, co-signed a letter with her colleague in misfortune, the Australian Kylie Moore-Gilbert, in which both announced that they would go on a hunger strike from December 24th to obtain recognition of their innocence and respect for academic freedom in the Islamic Republic and the entire Middle East.
While we have no precise news of Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who is still being held in the Revolutionary Guard section of Evin prison in Tehran and sentenced to 10 years in prison, we know that Fariba Adelkhah has been transferred to the women’s common law section of the prison, has been cleared by a court on charges of espionage while continuing to face the other equally fanciful charges ("national security offences" and "propaganda against the Islamic Republic"), and is still on a hunger strike to this day. She is under medical supervision and receives regular injections of serum to enable her to resist physically. Psychologically, her determination remains firm. It is not, in her mind, a strike of despair, but a fight to obtain her release, and also that of all the scientific prisoners in Iran and, above all, that of her partner Roland Marchal, arrested at the same time as her, still detained in the Revolutionary Guard section, and deprived of consular visits since December. Fariba Adelkhah would be prepared to suspend her hunger strike if Roland Marchal were released, as she has the gravest concerns about his state of health - fears that we share as we wonder what the Revolutionary Guards have to hide to refuse the consular visit due to our colleague, and which the recent publication on the site of the Centre for Human Rights in Iran of letters written by Kylie Moore-Gilbert during her detention have only served to reinforce.
A week ago, Fariba Adelkhah, while continuing her hunger strike, refused to return to her cell and has since been holding a sit-in in the communal areas of the prison - it seems that the term used is that of bast, a place of asylum and ethical protest, which would implicitly refer to the constitutional revolution of 1906, during which mosques and embassies were used as sanctuaries for dissidents calling for the establishment of the rule of law and justice. Fariba Adelkhah has demanded to meet with Roland Marchal to comfort him and check on his health, and she has strongly protested against the isolation to which he has been subjected. The Revolutionary Guards have refused to allow this visit on the pretext that they are not legally married. In fact, they were married in a religious ceremony at the time of their joint studies in Strasbourg at the end of the 1970s. Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal's lawyer is currently working to legalize this marriage in order to unblock the situation.
Fariba Adelkhah is insistent in her refusal of any politicization of her incarceration. She was arrested by a very specific institution, that of the Revolutionary Guards, whose interrogations showed their complete ignorance of what scientific research is, unlike the Ministry of Intelligence, which had questioned her several times over the past twenty years. She repeats that she has never engaged in any political activity in or about Iran and that she has never questioned the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic, having always considered that her scientific activity was incompatible with political activism. She does not therefore consider herself a political prisoner, but an academic prisoner, as we had immediately asserted, as soon as her arrest was known. Her hunger strike has no other demand than the recognition of academic freedom in general, and in particular that of Roland Marchal and her own. She knows that her struggle has met with approval or been heard within the Islamic Republic itself, and that she enjoys the understanding of some among the political, administrative or judicial authorities.
On the basis of this information, we reiterate our demand for the immediate and unconditional release of Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, as well as the other scientific prisoners in Iran. We hold the Government of the Islamic Republic responsible for the physical and mental integrity of our colleagues.