For members of the NAS, NAE, NAM, and International Human Rights Network:
Help us support the rights of scientists, engineers, and health professionals GIVE TO CHR
On December 7-8, 2017, the Committee on Human Rights hosted a public symposium on the role of scientists, engineers, and health professionals in assisting refugees and other individuals who have been forcibly displaced. Scholars, innovators and humanitarian organizations, among others, examined strategies being used to promote rights and dignity in situations of displacement and identified specific ongoing challenges that scientists, engineers, and health professionals can help to address.
For more information about the event, please click here.
In the spotlight
Longstanding Case against Ethiopian Scientific Colleagues Is Dropped
February 27, 2018
Ethiopian colleagues pictured here with fellow Zone 9 blogger and mechanical engineer Abel Wabella (left), who was earlier acquitted on terrorism-related charges.
After nearly four years and dozens of trial hearings, the Ethiopian Federal Attorney General, on February 14, 2018, informed computer scientist Befeqadu Hailu and economist Natnael Feleke that spurious charges of incitement to violence, related to their peaceful expressions of dissent, had been dropped. An identical charge, brought against computer scientist Atnaf Berahane, was also withdrawn on February 27.
The men were among a group of nine individuals arrested in April 2014 as a result of articles that they had written as part of the independent blog collective known as Zone 9, a platform for opinion pieces on political repression, corruption and social injustice in Ethiopia. After one and a half years in detention, they were acquitted of terrorism-related charges. Nevertheless, they each continued to face a charge of incitement to violence in connection with their peaceful writings. According to reliable reports, the proceedings in the case were plagued by numerous unexplained adjournments, delayed access to legal counsel, and other procedural irregularities.
The CHR and academies participating in the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies have taken a number of actions in support of these Ethiopian colleagues in the years since their arrest. We are pleased that the case against them has finally come to a close.
Iranian Baha’i Engineer Released after Serving 10-Year Prison Sentence
February 22, 2018
On February 16, Saeid Rezaie—an Iranian agricultural engineer and Baha’i community leader—was released from Raja’i Shahr prison after serving a 10-year sentence in connection with his Baha’i faith.
Mr. Rezaie ran an agricultural company and taught classes at the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), an alternative academic institution created and run by the Baha’i community on a volunteer basis to provide higher education to Baha’i students who are prohibited, because of their religious faith, from attending universities and government-sponsored institutions of higher learning in Iran. He was also one of the seven-member Friends in Iran (Yaran-i-Iran), an ad hoc national coordinating group responsible for the Iranian Baha’i community’s religious and administrative affairs.
In spring 2008 all seven members of the Yaran were arrested. More than two years later, following proceedings that failed to meet international fair trial standards, they were convicted by a Tehran Revolutionary Court of “espionage for Israel” (apparently because the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Baha’i faith, is located in what is now Israel), “insulting religious sanctities,” and “propaganda against the system,” and sentenced to 20 years in prison. In late November 2015, in accordance with a new stipulation in Iran’s Penal Code, which allows for sentences to be served concurrently, their prison term was reduced from 20 years to 10 years. Throughout his incarceration, Mr. Rezaie was held under harsh conditions of confinement. The Baha’is, Iran’s largest non-Muslim minority, have long been subjected to severe government persecution. Their religion is not recognized, and they are deprived of many internationally recognized human rights.
The CHR and academies participating in the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies have taken a number of actions in support of Mr. Rezaie in the years since his arrest. The CHR is pleased that he has been reunited with his family at last.
CHR Represented at "Science in Exile" Film Screening and Panel Discussion
Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia
On February 13, 2018, Saint Mary’s University in Halifax hosted a film screening of The World Academy of Sciences’ (TWAS) new documentary, “Science in Exile”, which highlights the struggles faced by displaced scientists attempting to relocate and continue their work. The screening was followed by a discussion panel. The speakers were S. Karly Kehoe, the Canada Research Chair in Atlantic Canada Communities at Saint Mary’s University; Patricia Evers, Senior Program Officer for the Committee on Human Rights; and Edward Lempinen, producer of the film and public information officer at TWAS. The panel discussed the various efforts that academies and universities can undertake in order to assist refugee scholars. The panel members agreed that encouraging universities to host these scholars is an important way to not only assist colleagues in difficult situations, but also to broaden the field of discussion within academia by encouraging cooperation between researchers from different backgrounds. Dr. Kehoe organized this event in follow-up to the CHR’s symposium—Protecting the Rights of Individuals Fleeing Conflict— held last December, where she participated in a similar panel.
CHR Committee Member Named Senior Vice President Emeritus of March of Dimes
The Committee on Human Rights is pleased to share that CHR Committee Member Dr. Michael Katz has been named Senior Vice President Emeritus of March of Dimes, in recognition of his 25 years of outstanding service to the organization.
CHR at a Glance
The Committee on Human Rights (CHR) has produced a new infographic that provides a snapshot of our current and resolved cases concerning scientists, health professionals, and engineers around the world subjected to severe human rights abuses - whether as a result of their professional work or for having peacefully exercised their right to freedom of expression. The infographic also demonstrates the active support we enjoy from members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and highlights our engagement with UNESCO's human rights complaint body.
* Data is taken from July 2016
You must scroll through the infographic to see both.