Call for action: VUB Professor Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali threatened with a death penalty in Iran


Letter from Prof. Caroline Pauwels, Rector of Vrije Universiteit Brussel


Dear Colleague,
Dear Alumnus,


We are appealing to the international community on behalf of our colleague Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali, who has been detained in Tehran’s Evin prison since April 2016 and was recently threatened with the death penalty by a court in Tehran. 


We have grave concerns about Dr. Djalali’s arrest, solitary confinement, and health which is reported to have seriously deteriorated since a hunger strike he began in December 2016 to protest his detention. While he may have stopped his hunger strike earlier this year, he has reportedly resumed it again, this time he has also refused liquids.


Dr. Djalali is known by his colleagues and students to be very respectful of his native home, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and one of his aims was to increase the understanding and shared relationship between the country where he lived and worked and other countries in the region in fostering excellence in the development of Emergency and Disaster Medicine and research applied to humanitarian assistance. Colleagues indicate that he always spoke of his Iranian heritage with great respect and pride.
According to Amnesty International: “In December 2016, the authorities put Ahmadreza Djalali under intense pressure to sign a statement, ‘confessing’ to being a spy for a ‘hostile government’. When he refused, they said they would charge him with ‘enmity against God’ (moharebeh), which carries the death penalty. In protest, he began a hunger strike on 26 December 2016 and his health has deteriorated since.


We urge colleagues and alumni, including medical, scientific and humanitarian organizations worldwide to join, support, and spread this appeal to ensure that Dr. Djalali’s case is properly adjudicated and, if found not guilty, that he is released to his wife and children in Sweden.


What you can do:


1.  Please send politely worded letters, if possible on institutional letterhead to the following Iranian authorities. A sample letter can be found here in English and Persian.

Head of the Judiciary Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani:

Subject line: FAO Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, 
Salutation: Your Excellency

c/o Public Relations Office Number 4, Deadend of 1 Azizi Vali Asr Street, Tehran, Iran;


Office of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei:

Salutation: Your Excellency

Islamic Republic Street- End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Iran;

And copies to:


President Hassan Rouhani

Salutation: Your Excellency

The Presidency, Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square Tehran, Iran 


The Iranian Ambassador in your country

Italian, Belgian and Swedish academic institutions have already taken action through their national authorities and local Iranian Embassies to put in place all needed diplomatic efforts to obtain Dr Djalali release. We encourage colleagues from other countries to establish contacts with their local Iranian Embassy and/or with their national authorities to strengthen our appeal.


2.  Friends and colleagues have also launched a petition on

So far, more than 200,000 people have signed it. Please sign, share and encourage others to sign. 

3.  Share information and stay connected on Facebook and on Twitter 
You can follow updates about the case: #SaveAhmad

In addition to medical and scientific organizations, Amnesty International has launched an urgent action to advocate for Dr Djalali’s release:

Read more about Dr. Djalali and our demands at VUB Today.


Thank you for your attention and response.


Caroline Pauwels
Rector V.U.B.
Brussels, Belgium

Ives Hubloue
Chair ReGEDiM V.U.B. 
Research Group on Emergency and Disaster Medicine Brussels