Michelle Nhuch


CIS regrets actions of Iranian authorities

February 7, 2007

CAMBRIDGE, MA—The MIT Center for International Studies expressed regret and disappointment at the actions of Iranian authorities who barred two prominent Iranian intellectuals from traveling to a conference at MIT. Hashem Aghajari and Abdollah Momeni were stopped from boarding an airplane in Tehran on Sunday, even though they had obtained all required documents.

The conference, on the past and future of reform in Iran, brought together a dozen prominent Iranian scholars and activists to discuss democratic development, on February 6 and 7 at MIT.

"The action by Iranian authorities is an affront to intellectual discourse and academic freedom," said John Tirman, executive director of the Center and the co-organizer of the conference. Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, a reform parlimentarian in Iran (2000-2004) and a fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School, invited Aghajari and Momeni.

"In a period of time when useful discussions about Iran are beneficial for everyone, it is deeply regretable and disappointing that these two distinguished Iranians are denied their place at the table," said Tirman.

Aghajari is a well-known critic of Islamic rule, a former revolutionary guard, who was sentenced to death in 2002, a sentence that was later commuted. Momeni is a prominent student organization leader.

MIT's Center for International Studies, a dynamic international affairs research center, is home to a variety of research, education, and outreach programs. It seeks to bridge the worlds of the scholar and the policymaker by offering each a place to exchange perspectives, and by encouraging academics to work on policy-relevant problems. Center scholars, and the students they helped educate, have served at senior levels in every administration since the Kennedy years. They are today among the nation's most distinguished analysts and executives in government and the private sector.