Two female researchers imprisoned in Iran, including Frenchwoman Fariba Adelkhah, start hunger strike

Fariba Adelkhah, on the left, and Kylie Moore-Gilbert.
Fariba Adelkhah, on the left, and Kylie Moore-Gilbert. THOMAS ARRIVE / AFP and DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE HANDOUT / EPA / MAXPPP

Two researchers imprisoned in Iran for several months, the Franco-Iranian Fariba Adelkhah and the Australian Kylie Moore-Gilbert, started a hunger strike on Tuesday 24 December. By a letter that was released from their Evin prison in Tehran, they said they were starting "A common hunger strike in the name of academic freedom" :

"We are going to conduct this strike on behalf of all researchers and academics in Iran and the Middle East who, like us, have been unjustly imprisoned on fabricated charges while they were just doing their job. "

They state in their letter that they were the subject of "Psychological torture" as well as "Numerous violations of our human rights". "On this Christmas Eve, we ask you to join us, for a day, in our deprivation of water and food in order to express your solidarity with us, while we are going to continue our strike after Christmas", they add.

Read the forum: Iranian scholar Fariba Adelkhah condemns heinous death

Two specialist researchers from the region

Sciences Po's International Research Center (CERI) expressed its 'Solidarity' with her researcher. Fariba Adelkhah, an anthropologist specializing in Shi'a and director of research at CERI, has been detained in Iran since June by Revolutionary Guards on charges of espionage. Tehran does not recognize her binationality and simply considers her to be an Iranian citizen.

Australian Kylie Moore-Gilbert is a researcher at the Center for Islam Studies at the University of Melbourne. Arrested in September 2018, she has since been tried and sentenced to ten years in prison, probably for spying. She has written on revolutions and protest movements in the Middle East, especially about the Arab Spring.

Read also The Middle East increasingly dangerous for European researchers

Another French researcher arrested, his situation unknown

Fariba Adelkhah’s arrest was concomitant in June with that of his colleague Roland Marchal, a specialist in the Horn of Africa. The latter's arrest was known only in October, triggering a wave of indignation and a major mobilization of support in the research community. Sciences Po then described their arrest as"Arbitrary, scandalous and revolting".

"Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal are scientific prisoners, assured the former director of CERI-Sciences Po, Jean-François Bayart. Arrested on the basis of their quality of researchers and their work, which are accessible to the public in their entirety, and placed in detention for reasons which have nothing to do with their professional activity but everything to do with extra-scientific objectives of 'political or geopolitical order to which they are completely foreign'. As of yet, Roland Marchal’s plight on the hunger strike is unknown.

On December 11, Tehran had rejected Emmanuel Macron's call the day before to release the two French researchers, deeming their detention "Intolerable". The Islamic Republic had, in October, qualified the demands of French diplomacy as"Interference in (his) Internal Affairs ".

Read also Second French researcher detained in Iran

Updated December 26 at 3 p.m .: Without certainty regarding the exact modalities of the strike started by the researchers, we have withdrawn the mention “thirst strike”.


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