CIFS Human Rights Cases
News and Updates
The Committee on International Freedom of Scientists (CIFS) is responsible for monitoring the rights of scientists around the world, including the United States, and advocating on behalf of those in need. Below is a sampling of some of the cases that CIFS has monitored.
Abduljalil Al-Singace (Mechanical Engineer)
On 17 March 2011, Al-Singace was forcibly taken from his home and imprisoned without charge (after having been released from prison on 23 February 2011). Al-Singace was originally arrested in Bahrain in August 2010 after reporting on Bahrain's human rights record to the British House of Lords.
Masaud Mirza Jahromi (Computer Science and Engineering)
In 2015, Bahrain revoked the citizenship of Masaud Mirza Jahromi, a professor at Ahlia University in Manama, for “advocating regime change through illegal means.” This charge was related to his involvement in protests in 2011. He was notified in early 2016 that he would be deported, and on March 6, 2016, he was deported to Beirut, Lebanon. Jahromi was forced to leave behind his family, including his wife and son.
Immediately before Jahromi was deported, CIFS wrote to Bahraini authorities calling on them to rescind the decision to deport Jahromi.
CIFS Letter, March 2016
APS Press Release (September 2013): Imprisoned Iranian Physics Student Awarded APS Human Rights Prize
Related APS News Articles
Omid Kokabee Hospitalized - October 2015
Omid Kokabee Honored with AAAS Award - February 2015
Retrial Granted to Jailed Iranian Physicist - October 2014
Physicists Ask Russian President to Help Kokabee - March 2014
Imprisoned Physics Student Declared Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International - January 2014
Iran Sentences Kokabee to Ten Years in Prison - June 2012
APS Protests Iranian Jailing of UT Austin Physics Student - August 2011
Imprisoned APS Member Faces Harsh Treatment and Charges in Iran - October 2011
Free Omid Kokabee Video
Made by students from the University of Texas supporting CIFS member Herb Berk's drive to help Omid Kokabee.
Omid Kokabee (Physics Ph.D. Student & APS Member)
Kokabee was arrested in Iran in the winter of 2011 when trying to return to the University of Texas at Austin, where he was pursuing a Ph.D. in optics. He was accused of "illegal earnings" and "communicating with a hostile government." On 13 May 2012, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. In 2013, Kokabee was named a recipient of the APS Andrei Sakharov Prize, and Amnesty International named him a prisoner of conscience. In November 2014, Kokabee was granted a retrial by the Iranian Supreme Court after rejecting the legal basis of his prosecution and sentence. However, in January 2015, his ten-year conviction was upheld by the court.
April 2016: Kokabee is diagnosed with kidney cancer, after years of medical problems and denial of adequate medical care.
April 2015: Kokabee was moved to solitary confinement in ward 209 in Evin Prison. He was released a few days later. CIFS writes letter to Ayatollah Khamenei asking that he intervene in Kokabee's case to enable him to be released from prison.
February 2015: APS and AAAS CEOs write joint letter requesting that Kokabee be released from prison on humanitarian grounds.
In Iran, members of the Baha'i religion are forbidden from pursuing higher education. As a result, the Baha'i community has responded by creating its own, informal higher education system known as the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE). In May 2011, several BIHE educators, including those with scientific backgrounds, were arrested and detained in a raid of over 30 homes. CIFS is concerned that individuals who have committed themselves to educating Baha'i youth have been imprisoned solely for their religious beliefs and has urged the Iranian government to reconsider its policy of barring Baha'is from pursuing education and to release the imprisoned BIHE educators.
CIFS Letter, December 2014
Imad al-Barghouti (Astrophysicist)
Barghouti is a Palestinan astrophysicist at Al-Qud's UNiversity in Jerusalem. He was Barghouti was arrested at a West Bank security checkpoint in April 2016, but the charges against him are not clear. While Barghouti had been ordered released in May as it was determined that there was insufficient reason to continue his detention. However, the Israeli military asserted that Barghouti poses a security threat and his detention was extended. As a result, CIFS wrote to the Israeli Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice to ask that all charges and evidence against Barghouti be made public and that he be released should the evidence be insufficient to continue his detention.
CIFS Letter, June 2016
Svyatoslav Bobyshev (Scientist)
Bobyshev and his colleague Yevgeny Afanasyev were both detained in March 2010 without formal charges against them. In June 2012, they were found guilty of treason charges and sentenced to 12 and 12.5 years in prison, respectively. Sadly, Afanasyev passed away in prison in 2015. Bobyshev remains in prison.
Treatment of Scientists at ITEP
In December 2015, CIFS wrote to the Russian Minister of Education and Science to express its concern about the treatment of distinguished scientists at the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics (ITEP). CIFS noted that scientists at ITEP had been restricted from freely expressing themselves and punished when disagreeing with the administration.