Monday, December 8, 2008

Delegates from Association of American Universities (AAU) during a meeting with Iranian Officials expressed their concerns regarding Esha's arrest

According to the Cornell Daily Sun, while in Iran from Nov. 14 to Nov. 20, David Skorton, President of Cornell University, along with several other delegates from Association of American Universities (AAU), met with Iranian Minister of Science, Research and Technology Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi. Skorton said that during meetings with academic faculties and with Zahedi, the issue of roadblocks to scholastic freedom were brought up.

The article further states that:

"The general issue and specific issue [of safety] were brought up on numerous occasions, with faculty, with university administrators and with the minister of science," Skorton said. AAU spokesperson Barry Toiv stated in an e-mail, "Now, a very high percentage of the country receives a college education. Interestingly, 60 percent of that student population is women, despite the severe limits placed on women in Iranian society as a whole."

According to Leebron, the delegation expressed their concerns to Minister Zahedi regarding "what [the delegates] would call interference" with academic freedom. They were particularly concerned with American-born Esha Momeni, a graduate student at California State University at Northridge, who was arrested in Tehran in mid-October while researching the Iran's women's movement. He called this case "one particular point of difficulty."

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Interview with Iranian Woman Activist and Campaigner: Hoda Aminian

Interview by: Sussan Tahmasebi, Change for Equality
I am 25 years old. I have a BS in Surveying and am currently working on my
Masters in City Planning. My focus is on women and the use of public
spaces. The Campaign has been an enormously empowering experience for
me. Prior to entering the Campaign, I had lost hope and had become
disillusioned. I felt like I needed to do something to positively improve
my society and to positively impact the lives of women in my country, but
I was constantly faced with closed doors to this end. I could not find a
place to go and be active on behalf of women's rights and my own concerns.
When the Campaign started it changed the environment of the women's
movement and younger women were afforded an opportunity to get involved.
From among the 50 volunteers that I follow up with, none have been
dissuaded from involvement in the Campaign because of security pressures
or at least they have not expressed their concerns to me. I share news and
info on developments in the Campaign with the group I am responsible for.
When I shared the news about sentences issued in the case of Campaign
activists, like the sentence issued for Delaram Ali, most activists wrote
back expressing their support and concern and asked what if anything they
could do for us. Or when we shared news about Esha's Momeni's release from
prison, we received a lot of supportive messages from volunteers.