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.
In January 2015, Kokabee's 10-year sentence was upheld despite a Supreme Court decision that stated there was no evidence to substantiate the charges against him or the conviction.
APS Press Release (September 2013): Imprisoned Iranian Physics Student Awarded APS Human Rights Prize
Related APS News Articles
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)
January 2015: Kokabee's 10-year conviction is upheld after a retrial
Kokabee was arrested in Iran in the winter of 2011 when trying to return to the University of Texas at Austin, where he is 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 14 years in prison. CIFS has written to the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei to protest Kokabee's conviction. CIFS has also requested that members of the UN Human Rights Council encourage Iranian officials to comply with Iran's international human rights obligations with regard to their treatment of Kokabee. 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.
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
CIFS has followed with concern the assassination of Iranian scientists over the past couple of years. In 2012, APS officially condemned these assassinations.
Condemning Iranian Physicist Assassinations
Letter from 2012 APS President Robert Byer
APS President Condemns Wave of Iranian Scientist Assassinations - APS News, April 2012
On 22 October 2012, several Italian seismologists were convicted of manslaughter in connection with an earthquake that struck L'Aquila, Italy, in 2009 that killed 309 people. While the scientists were sentenced to six years in prison, their convictions were overturned in November 2014.
RussiaSvyatoslav Bobyshev and Yevgeny Afanasyev (Scientists)
Bobyshev and Afanasyev were detained beginning 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.