Shock and dismay at the arrest, conviction, and harsh sentencing of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran  

c/o H.E. Mohammad Khazaee Ambassador of Iran to the United Nations  

Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations 

622   Third Ave.  

New York , NY 10017  


Your Excellency,  

I am writing to you on behalf of the Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF) of the Middle  East Studies Association of North America (MESA) to express my shock and dismay at the  arrest, conviction, and harsh sentencing of an esteemed colleague, Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh.  

MESA was founded in 1966 to promote scholarship and teaching on the Middle East and  North Africa .   e preeminent organization in the fi eld, MESA publishes the International  Journal of Middle East Studies and has more than 3000 members worldwide. MESA is  committed to ensuring academic freedom and freedom of expression, both within the region  and in connection with the study of the region in North America and elsewhere.  

We wrote to you earlier (on July 16, 2009) with regard to Dr. Tajbakhsh’s detention,  expressing the fear that he would be the victim of concocted allegations.   Those fears have  materialized. On two previous occasions (when Dr. Tajbakhsh was detained in 2007), CAF  also expressed concern about your government’s treatment of him. Dr. Tajbakhsh is a highly  respected scholar who has disavowed political involvement in recent years. His arrest was  unwarranted and his conviction, based on fl imsy evidence and a clearly coerced confession,  left his colleagues throughout the world aghast.   The twelve-year sentence sends a deeply  disturbing message about your government’s respect for elementary human rights (most  particularly, the right to a fair trial) and its willingness to abide by the most basic elements of  academic freedom.  

We urge that you arrange for Dr. Tajbakhsh’s immediate release so that he can resume his  much-valued academic activities. We look forward to your response. 


Virginia H. Aksan, PhD 

MESA President 

Department of History, McMaster University

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