"The increased submission of Iranian justice to the guardians of the revolution strengthens its arbitrariness and its politicization"

Grandstand. Fariba Adelkhah, detained for a year on June 5, has just been sentenced to six years in prison. Almost 20 other academics – mostly binationals – are now imprisoned in Iran, also for mainly political reasons. Not to mention other Gulf countries, Egypt, China …

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The case of Fariba Adelkhah is exemplary for several reasons. Anthropologist, she has published on her country for three decades, repeatedly facing interrogations in Iran. Yet it was only in 2019, like the vast majority of her colleagues today in prison, that she was taken into custody and serious charges were laid against her.

Read also Franco-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah sentenced to five years in prison in Iran

This situation, contemporaneous with the most devastating effects of American sanctions on the population more than on the survival of the regime, raises important questions. On the one hand, on the legal vulnerability of academics who are trying to do their job in this country. Another on the Iranian judicial system and an increased submission to the Revolutionary Guards which reinforces its arbitrariness and its politicization.

The cost of such a choice

Regardless of the specific contexts of these arrests, the current repression against these academics, and Fariba in particular, highlights how the control of information and the weakening of university or knowledge production links with European and democratic countries are becoming priorities. for certain sectors of the regime at a time when the expectations of Iranian society are radicalizing and when geopolitical alliances are showing their limit.

In this context, what responses can come from the academic world, which by definition aspires to no power and is resolved to let political and social actors determine for themselves?

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A first lead is offered by Fariba Adelkhah's position: the latter refuses any agreement which would not recognize her status as a binational, Iranian and French academic. She wants to recover her field notes and her computer, symbols of a professional identity that the guards of the revolution challenge her. She wants to be what she has always been: deeply Iranian, but also French. The cost of such a choice is high for her. She has little hope for the outcome of the legal process and believes that her detention will continue. She sees this as the price to pay for losing neither her honor as a woman and a researcher, nor the confidence of all those who, notably in Iran and Afghanistan, have worked with her or worked with her.

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