In the light of the dire situation caused by the coronavirus the Human Rights Committee of Sweden’s Scientific and Literary Academies request the authorities of Iran, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam to release imprisoned academics on humanitarian grounds. Among others this concerns Ahmadreza Djalali, Narges Mohammadi, Kylie Moore-Gilbert and Fariba Adelkhah in Iran.
Lately Iran has released a number of prisoners in an attempt to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus within the crowded jails. At the same time, many of the political prisoners remain in jail and are put at risk of contracting COVID-19.
The Human Rights Committee of Sweden’s Scientific and Literary Academies has previously been involved regarding the cases of four imprisoned academics in Iran. Ahmadreza Djalali is a researcher at Karolinska Institutet and a Swedish citizen. He was jailed on a visit to Iran in 2016 and has since been sentenced to death. Narges Mohammadi is an Iranian engineer and physicist serving a 16-year prison sentence in Tehran, Kylie Moore-Gilbert is an Australian-British political scientist arrested when she attended a conference in Iran 2018 and Fariba Adelkhah is a French-Iranian anthropologist who has been imprisoned since the summer of 2019.
Since these prisoners have been detained for many years under difficult conditions, they are particularly vulnerable to infections caused by COVID-19. The World Health Organization and United Nations human rights experts have also called on governments to take immediate action to address overcrowded prisons, including the priority release of prisoners who have been detained for offenses not recognized under international law.