Advocacy statements

Calling for the release of Djalali and M’Kheitir

  • Date / 2017
  • Location / Iran
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention


International Humanist and Ethical Union

UN Human Rights Council, 34th Session (27th February – 31st March 2017)

General Debate on Item 4

We would like to draw the Council’s urgent attention to two cases of individuals in prison, awaiting execution at the hands of their governments.

The first is Professor Ahmadreza Djalali[1], who was sentenced to death in Iran last month for alleged “collaboration with scientists from hostile nations,” “acting against national security,” and “enmity against God.” Djalali, a Professor of Science at Brussels Free University, has been on hunger strike in protest at the authorities not allowing him a lawyer – he has lost 27kg since being arrested in April last year. He is also experiencing a number of serous health issues, and we are extremely concerned for his wellbeing.

For Nowruz [the Persian new year], Khamenei has promised to release some prisoners in the country. We urge that Professor Djalali is one such prisoner. He is a doctor, a researcher, a scientist; all he did in Iran was to attend university workshops to share professional knowledge and learn from colleagues.

Another urgent case is that of writer Cheikh Ould Mohamed M’Kheitir who is still facing death after being imprisoned in Mauritania in 2014.[2] He had been accused of “apostasy” and “insulting the Prophet”, over an article making reference to the role of Islamic teachings in the perpetuation of slavery.[3] M’Kheitir has been kept in solitary confinement since being charged. Many religious figures, and the president himself, have said that “God’s law” should be followed, and that he should be executed.

All these men have done, is sought to use their enquiring minds to promote truth and progress for society; and for that they are threatened with state-sponsored killing. We urge Iran and Mauritania to quash the respective death sentences, drop the wholly unjust charges, and release Djalali and M’Kheitir without delay.


[1] http://iheu.org/international-condemnation-as-professor-from-free-university-brussels-sentenced-to-death-in-iran/

[2] http://iheu.org/iheu-briefing-on-mohamed-cheikh-ould-mkheitir-case/

[3] http://iheu.org/iheu-condemns-death-sentence-for-apostasy-handed-to-writer-in-mauritania/,

Suggested academic reference

'Calling for the release of Djalali and M’Kheitir', Humanists International

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