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Universities halt co-operation with Iran over imprisoned doctor
From Flanders Today: All new academic co-operation between Iran and Flanders is being suspended in protest at the continuing imprisonment of Ahmadreza Djalali, an alumnus and visiting professor of the VUB in Brussels. Flemish rectors are demanding that Djalali receive a fair trial and medical treatment before links can be re-opened.
Djalali is a physician and an expert in disaster medicine, which he studied in Sweden, Italy and at VUB. Most recently he was resident in Sweden, where he worked at the prestigious Karolinska Institute.
He was arrested in April 2016 while in Iran to visit his family and attend academic workshops. He was subsequently accused of collaboration with scientists from “foreign enemy states” and sentenced to death. Since then his health appears to have deteriorated dramatically.
Gerlant Van Berlaer, an emergency doctor at the University Hospital Brussels and a former colleague of the Swedish-Iranian researcher, said that recent photographs showed a clear loss of weight. “Ahmadreza is emaciated and almost unrecognizable. He appears to be dying.”
In a letter released by VUB, Djalali says that he has experienced psychological and physical torture, and that his health is being neglected. “I have lost about 15kg over the last six months and suffer from many health problems, but have yet not received any medical services,” he writes.
The decision to suspend all new academic cooperation was made by the Flemish Inter-University Council, which brings together the rectors of all the universities in Flanders. “The Flemish rectors call on the Iranian government to respect the fundamental human rights of Dr Djalali,” said Herman Van Goethem, rector of Antwerp University. “The right to a fair trial and the right to the necessary medical care are non-negotiable conditions that must be fulfilled before Flemish universities can start new co-operations with Iranian institutions.”
Meanwhile, Bruzz reports that Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois intends raise the issue with the Iranian ambassador on Friday.
Photo: Professor Ahmadreza Djalali, before his imprisonment and now © Courtesy VUB