World Medical Association calls for visiting VUB professor's release from Iranian prison
The international doctors' association World Medical Association (WMA) has called for the release of Ahmadreza Djalali from prison in a letter to the Iranian government. The United Nations fears that the Iranian-Swedish professor, a specialist in disaster medicine and a visiting professor at the VUB university in Brussels, will soon be executed.
Djalali was arrested and sentenced to death in Iran in 2017 on charges of espionage - allegations that Stockholm said were totally unfounded. Before his arrest, he worked as a visiting professor at VUB.
In late December, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over Djalali's possible imminent execution. Concern over the professor's fate is linked to a trial in Sweden of Hamid Nouri, a former prison ministry official in Iran.
In a letter addressed to several Iranian leaders, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and president Ebrahim Raisi, the WMA last week called for Djalali's "immediate and unconditional" release. The professor "is unanimously regarded as a specialist in disaster medicine who practised his profession peacefully", WMA president Lujain Al-Qodmani said. He called using the man's life as a "bargaining chip" as "despicable blackmail" and "shameful haggling".
In addition, the organisation calls on the Iranian government and parliament to establish a moratorium on the death penalty.
Belgian doctors' association BVAS, which represents the country within the WMA, says it supports the call. "BVAS has a long ethical-humanitarian tradition of caring about the fate of persecuted doctors," the association said on Tuesday. "The inhumane treatment of our colleague and the death penalty hanging over his head are very serious violations of human rights."
Ahmadreza Djalali before (left) and two years after (right) his detention © BELGA PHOTO HAND OUT