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Letter Regarding Proposed Purge (Oct. 2006)

October 2, 2006

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
c/o H. E. Javad Zarif
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Mission to the Islamic Republic of Iran
  to the United Nations
Fax (212) 867-7086

Your Excellency:

I write on behalf of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), a national organization of college and university professors in the United States, to express concern about your government’s call last month for a purge of liberal and secular academics in Iran’s universities. Especially troubling is the fact that this action follows reports that some University of Tehran faculty members may have been pressured to retire because of political considerations.  

 Since its founding in 1915, the AAUP has defended free inquiry among scholars. The University of Tehran’s Web site recognizes the importance of the faculty’s contribution to the university’s role as a pioneer in scientific, cultural, and social affairs. To continue to contribute substantively to your country’s development, faculty members must be able to exercise freedom of thought, opinion, and speech—rights protected by the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is a party. We therefore ask that your government abandon its call for the exclusion of academics based on their research or findings and to ensure that no faculty members are forced to retire because of their scholarship or publicly stated views.

 In addition, we remained concerned about the situation of Professor Ramin Jahanbegloo, about whom we wrote to you in May. We understand that he has been released from prison, but that he faces charges based on his interactions with foreigners in the course of carrying out his work. From its beginnings, the AAUP has defended free exchange among scholars. The continued prosecution of Professor Jahanbegloo offends international standards of academic freedom, and we urge your government to dismiss all charges against him that arise from his scholarly work.
 
Sincerely,
 
Roger W. Bowen
General Secretary