Iran Must Release Academic and Political Prisoners Who Contracted Covid-19 on Medical Grounds

Updated: Mar 13

Iran, one of the countries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, has temporarily released around 85,000 prisoners due to the fear of the novel coronavirus. However, political and academic prisoners remain incarcerated. Political prisoners and academics such as Niloufar Bayani, have also been excluded from the furloughing, even when they contract the COVID-19. On August 5, 2021, Endangered Scholars Worldwide learned that Niloufar Bayani, 34, a researcher, conservationist, and scholar— who has been imprisoned in Tehran since February 2018 and has been serving a 10-year prison sentence since February 2020 on charges of espionage—was transferred to the Evin Prison quarantine ward after testing positive for Covid-19. Reports indicate that Iranian authorities do not provide proper medical care to detainees in the quarantine ward.


Niloufar Bayani | Photo Credit: CBC Radio Canada

Bayani is the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation program manager, a former McGill University research assistant and alumna a Columbia University, and a former project consultant for UN Environment.


She was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison on charges of “contacts with the U.S. enemy state” and “gaining illegitimate income” on November 23, 2019.


On February 18, 2020, BBC Persian published smuggled letters that Bayani wrote in Evin Prison. The letters horrifyingly detailed psychological and physical torture and threats of sexual violence by her male interrogators.


The ongoing outbreak of Covid-19 in Iran’s prisons has accentuated the urgent need to release political prisoners. We at Endangered Scholars Worldwide consider Niloufar Bayani’s detention a flagrant and unjust violation of a researcher’s freedom, security, and safety—arrested without cause, held for months in solitary confinement, and without access to a lawyer, and subjected to physical mistreatment and psychological abuse. Endangered Scholars Worldwide deplores and condemns the ongoing detention, persecution, conviction, and mistreatment of Niloufar Bayani and calls upon all international organizations, academic and professional associations, and other groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights to strongly protest and condemn this arbitrary incarceration; to ask for her immediate and unconditional release; and to urge the officials of the Iranian government to release all prisoners of conscience, especially those who pose no threat to the public, as Covid-19 spreads rapidly in Iranian prisons.


CC:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

The Office of the Supreme Leader

Jomhouri Street

Tehran

Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 644 11

Website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/www.Khamenei.ir


President Raisi

The Office of the President

Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection

Tehran

Islamic Republic of Iran


Javad Zarif

Minister of Foreign Affairs

The Minister’s Office

Imam Khomeini Square

Tehran

Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 66743149

Website: http://www.mfa.gov.ir

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jzarif


Michelle Bachelet

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Palais des Nations

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Email: InfoDesk@ohchr.org

Dr. Koumbou Boly Barry

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education

Palais des Nations

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Email: sreducation@ohchr.org


David Kaye

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Palais des Nations

CH-1211 Geneva 10

Switzerland

Fax: +41 22 917 9006

Email: freedex@ohchr.org


Josep Borrell

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

European Commission

Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200

1049 Brussels

Belgium


Marija Pejčinović Burić

Secretary General of the Council of Europe Council of Europe

Avenue de l'Europe

F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex

France

Fax: + 33 3 88 41 27 99


Christophe Poirel

Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law Council of Europe

Avenue de l'Europe

F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex

France

Fax: + 33 3 88 41 27 99