The recently published detention in Iran of two French researchers, Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, arrested by the Revolutionary Guards, imposes an immediate freeze on all university cooperation with the country, says a spokesman for "World", Jean-François Bayart, specialist in international politics and professor in Geneva.
Tribune. On June 5, Fariba Adelkhah, an anthropologist, and Roland Marchal, a sociologist, both researchers at Sciences Po, were arrested in Iran on the pretext of undermining the security of the state. This accusation is grotesque. If she does not like it, to be relayed by televised confessions which the Islamic Republic is accustomed to, she would not gain credibility. Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal have no political activity in Iran or against Iran, are not linked to any intelligence service, have no agenda other than scientific. They are scientific prisoners.
Tehran has taken as a pledge, in the opacity of some diplomatic negotiation on the basis of regional crisis, two researchers whose work has illuminated the nuanced realities of the Islamic Republic, for one, the asymmetrical game of Western countries in this part of the world, for the other. In arresting them, the guards of the Revolution shot themselves in the foot. They leave the field open to all the excesses we hear about Iran.
How to work together knowing that colleagues are languishing in Tehran jails?
Faithful to their particular conception of diplomacy, they fired a second in the knee by attacking France, which, admittedly, has never been favorable to Iranian interests in the Middle East and sells a great deal of money. Saudi Arabia, but tries to temper Donald Trump's fervor and save the 2015 nuclear deal. A strange way to support mediation, unless it is torpedoing. Curious way to break the isolation of Iran.
The suspension of all forms of academic and scientific cooperation with the Islamic Republic – apart from hosting students – is self-evident. By professional solidarity with Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, but also with the fifteen foreign researchers arrested under the same conditions lately.
Decency also demands it. How to work together knowing that colleagues are languishing in Tehran jails? The most basic precaution also makes this measurement inevitable. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also asks French nationals no longer to visit Iran, and the CNRS prohibits any mission. Academic institutions that ignore it would take a senseless legal risk. The families of their staff would be entitled to turn against them in case of arrest.