Monday, January 25, 2010

Scholars at Risk Calls for an Investigation of an Apparent Murder of a Professor in Iran

We received the following press release from Scholars at Risk:

Scholars at Risk is deeply concerned about the apparent murder of Dr. Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, a professor of physics at Tehran University in Iran.  Although complete information is not available, according to reports Dr. Ali-Mohammadi was killed by an explosion outside his home on January 12, 2010.  The motives for the apparent assassination are not clear at this time, although there is speculation centered on Dr. Ali-Mohammadi's role as a researcher in nuclear physics.  Whatever the motives, it is clear that any attack on Dr. Ali-Mohammadi was a violation of internationally recognized human rights, including the “right to life, liberty and security of person” (UDHR Art. 3) and to due process under law (UDHR Arts. 6-12).

The violence and suddenness of the attack add to on-going grave concerns about the ability of scholars and intellectuals to work safely in Iran.  The attack follows months of reports of arrest and detention of academics throughout Iran before and after the June 2009 elections.  Together, these suggest a wider attempt to intimidate intellectuals and to limit academic freedom in Iran-a suggestion we find particularly distressing and unfortunate, given Iran's rich intellectual history and traditional support for the values of scholarship and free inquiry.


Scholars at Risk therefore joins in calling upon the authorities in Iran to launch an immediate investigation into the apparent assassination of Professor Ali-Mohammadi.  Moreover, given the international nature of the academic community and viewing the open assassination of a member of that community as of grave concern to all members, Scholars at Risk urges that appropriate third-party international observers such as from the United Nations or one of the relevant international academic societies be included among the investigation team to ensure impartiality and to provide confidence to the international community in any findings that may result.


Scholars at Risk is an international network of universities and colleges dedicated to promoting academic freedom and to defending the human rights of scholars worldwide.  In especially serious cases, Scholars at Risk calls for action on behalf of scholars who are killed as a result of their work or for those who are suffering serious threats to the exercise of their fundamental human rights.

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