In the spotlight
Baha’i Psychologist Released after Serving Four-Year Sentence
On April 15, 2016, Faran Hesami was released from Evin Prison and reunited with her husband, Kamran Rahimian, and her seven-year-old son, Artin. She served her entire four-year sentence under harsh conditions of confinement.
Ms. Hesami and Mr. Rahimian both received their undergraduate degrees in psychology from the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) and graduate degrees from the University of Ottawa in counseling psychology. After completing their studies in Canada, the couple returned to Iran and opened a private counseling practice. They also worked on a voluntary basis as lecturers in psychology at the BIHE. The BIHE was created in 1987 to provide university-level courses of study to Baha’i youth, who are prohibited from attending universities and government-sponsored institutions of higher learning in Iran because of their religious faith. (BIHE classes are held online and in private homes. Volunteer faculty members help the university maintain high academic standards, and many graduates go on to pursue advanced degrees abroad. The quality of the coursework has been recognized and accepted for credit by more than 50 universities outside of Iran.)
In 2011 Ms. Hesami and Mr. Rahimian were among several dozen Baha’i educators arrested for their involvement with the BIHE. Following unjust proceedings before the Revolutionary Court, both were convicted in early 2012 of “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security” and sentenced to four years in prison. Ms. Hesami was released on bail soon after her arrest and was taken back into custody in July 2012 to serve the remainder of her sentence. (Her husband was released in August 2015 after serving four years in prison.) The CHR regularly raised Ms. Hesami’s case with high-level Iranian officials and is pleased that her family is finally together again.
photo courtesy of Than Zaw Aung
Medical Doctor Released from Prison in Myanmar
On 17 April, Dr. Myat Nu Khaing was released from Insein Prison as the result of a presidential pardon.
Myat Nu Khaing was arrested in October 2015 in connection with her participation in a protest in Yangon some 10 months earlier. Her arrest took place only weeks before general elections were held in the country, and as she was in the midst of campaigning for election to the Lower House of Parliament as an independent candidate in Phyu Township. Although the protest in which Myat Nu Khaing participated was a peaceful demonstration, she was charged with a number of serious offences and, in March 2016, found guilty of rioting by Dagon Township Court. She was subsequently sentenced to a one-year term of imprisonment.
The CHR appealed to high-level officials of Myanmar for Myat Nu Khaing’s release and is pleased that justice has been done in her case.
Health Professionals and Human Rights
During the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Annual Meeting, Leonard Rubenstein, Director of the Program on Human Rights, Health and Conflict (Center for Public Health and Human Rights) at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in the DRC, spoke to NAM members about attacks against healthcare professionals globally and the importance of supporting the work of medical professionals in conflict zones. In the video interviews below, both speakers draw attention to the role that health professionals and the international medical community can play in advancing human rights.
Health Professionals and Human Rights: A Conversation with Leonard Rubenstein from The Academies on Vimeo.
Working to Address, and to End, Gender-Based Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): A Conversation with Dr. Mukwege from The Academies on Vimeo.
Check out CHR’s New Infographics
The Committee on Human Rights (CHR) has recently developed three visual data sets, or infographics, to highlight our advocacy in support of scientists, engineers and health professionals worldwide who have been targeted for their human rights or professional work. Each infographic provides a regional breakdown of our current* and resolved cases and types of abuse suffered by colleagues. Each also provides a snapshot of “member correspondents” of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine who lend support to the work of the CHR.
* Data is taken from 2015.
Appeals Court Dismisses Tunisian Mathematician’s Case and Orders His Release
February 23, 2016
In the evening of February 5, 2016, Tunisian mathematician Abdelfattah Saied was freed from al-Mornaguia Prison in Tunis after almost seven months in prison. His case was dismissed earlier that day by a court of appeals after all charges against him were dropped.
Mr. Saied is a mathematics teacher and recipient of the 2009 Tunisian Ministry of Education’s “Innovative Teacher Award”, a computer programmer, and a poet. In July 2015, after posting a video on the Internet in which he speculated that security forces may have been linked to the planning of the June 2015 attack on a seaside resort in Sousse in which 38 tourists were killed, Mr. Saied was arrested by counter-terrorism police. Although subsequently charged with “complicity in or facilitation of terrorism” under the 2003 counter-terrorism law, “defaming a public servant,” and “knowingly broadcasting false news to convince others of the existence of a criminal act,” he was found innocent of the defamation charges at trial, and the terror charges were dropped. In November 2015, Mr. Saied was convicted of “knowingly broadcasting false news” and was sentenced to one year in prison. During his imprisonment, he reportedly was denied medical treatment for a preexisting back condition.
The CHR appealed to high-level Tunisian officials for Mr. Saied’s release from prison on the grounds that he was convicted for peacefully expressing his opinion. The rights to freedom of opinion and expression are protected under international human rights law and include the right to publicly criticize officials and institutions.
Executive Committee of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network) Issues Statement Concerning Threats to Turkish Scholars
“The International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network) supports and defends the right of fellow academics, anywhere in the world, to peacefully express their lawful opinions and concerns. We, the members of the H.R. Network’s Executive Committee, are alarmed by the increasingly repressive and inflammatory reaction by Turkish government leaders, many university officials, and other intolerant individuals toward hundreds of our Turkish colleagues, solely because they publicly expressed humanitarian concerns about the grave crisis in south eastern Turkey.”
As of Monday, January 25, 2016, 30 Nobel Laureates had endorsed the January 19, 2016 Statement by the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies regarding the plight of Turkish academics.
See list of names. See Statement.
*The CHR, as a committee of the NAS, NAE, and NAM, is a member of the H.R. Network and hosts its Secretariat
Science Article Highlights Crackdown Against Turkish Academics
“Human rights organizations as well as the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine have criticized Turkey and called on it to respect freedom of speech… The U.S. National Academies "will continue to monitor the situation closely," says Martin Chalfie, the Nobel Prize–winning chemist who chairs the Academies’ Committee on Human Rights in Washington, DC.”
Read More Here
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