Already two years ….

Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal were arrested in Iran on 5 June 2019. In March 2020, Roland was exchanged for an Iranian national detained in France; Fariba, however, was sentenced to five years in prison on spurious allegations that fool no one. 

Two years after her arrest, we still do not know why she was arrested. Was it as a way of pressuring France and blackmailing Europe into freeing Iranians detained here? Or was it to settle a score within the Islamic Republic? To silence dissenting voices and to set an example against freedom of speech? Fariba Adelkhah has never been politically active. She is a scientific prisoner who has been deprived of her freedom on the sole basis of her scholarly work. Or perhaps she is a poetical prisoner, given that she published Persian translations of French mystical poems on an Iranian literary website? Whatever the reason, her charges seem to state that in Iran, research constitutes a threat to national security.

In October 2020, Fariba Adelkhah was released from Evin prison and placed under house arrest, not allowed to move more than 300 metres away, forced to wear an electronic bracelet day and night, and subject to daily administrative controls, with guards coming to her home at all hours to make her sign her proof of presence. From afar this may seem a less severe loss of freedom. But up close, that is not necessarily the case: Fariba left the walls of a prison to find those of a 300-metre perimeter beyond which she will not be allowed to go for three more years; she suffers psychological torture by the authorities that pressure her, make false accusations, dangle false hopes in front of her. The pardons she could have been entitled to (for Nowruz for example) and the conditional liberty she could have obtained (having served a third of her sentence) were not given to her. But above all, Fariba has been torn away from her personal and professional life for two years for the simple and sole reason of doing her job as an anthropologist with scientific and deontological integrity.

This attack on her is an attack on all of us, because as Fariba Adelkhah wrote in one of her last articles, “research is the drinking fountain of freedom”. Free Fariba!

The support committee


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