The Facts About Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal: What We Know

Update on 21 March 2020: Roland Marchal has been released from Evin Prison and returned to France. Fariba Adelkhah remains in incarceration. Source: AFP

Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, both researchers at Sciences Po, were arrested in Iran in early June 2019. 

The charges against Fariba Adelkah are: "propaganda against the political system of the Islamic Republic" and "collusion to endanger national security". Only this last count was brought against Roland Marchal (who was not officially acquitted but released in exchange for the release of an Iranian engineer detained in France). Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal’s trial, which was due to start on March 3, 2020, before the 15th chamber of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, was postponed sine die, for an unknown reason. An assembly took place on March 3, 2020, in front of 27, rue Saint-Guillaume, in support of the imprisoned researchers.

Assembly for Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal - 3 March 2020 from Sciences Po on Vimeo.

Where is Fariba Adelkhah being held and in what conditions?

Fariba Adelkhah is being detained at Evin Prison, situated in the north of Tehran. Roland Marchal was also incarcerated in the same prison.

The charge of espionage against Fariba Adelkhah, punishable by death penalty, was dropped on January 6, 2020. She remains accused of "propaganda against the political system of the Islamic Republic" and "collusion to endanger national security". She is now able to receive visits from her family and her lawyer, but the authorities do not recognise her dual nationality, so she has not been able to benefit from any French consular assistance, unlike Roland Marchal.

On December 24, 2019, Fariba Adelkhah began a hunger strike, together with Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, also imprisoned for fifteen months in Iran. Fariba Adelkhah ended her hunger strike on February 12, 2020. Worried about her alarming state of health, the Support Committee for the two researchers wrote to her asking her to end it. She was admitted on Sunday, February 23, to Evin Prison Hospital where she is incarcerated in Tehran. Fariba Adelkhah suffered from severe kidney damage following her 49-day hunger strike.

At what was meant to be the first day of the trial (March 3, 2020), only Fariba Adelkhah was present. The trial was postponed until an unknown date.

In mid-March, before his release, Roland Marchal was able to exchange with the French ambassador to Iran via WhatsApp, with a short portion on video. The French ambassador reported that Roland’s health seemed stable, though he appeared physically weakened. Roland was able to receive news on his relatives and friends, and learn about the events and actions that have taken place in solidarity for him and Fariba Adelkhah in Paris, Strasbourg, Metz and elsewhere.

Fariba Adelkhah, was able to see one of her sisters through a glass window. Though she seemed to be doing better physically, she continued to be appalled by the way she and her fellow prisoners are treated in prison. After this meeting, which allowed her to have some news about Roland, she decided to stop her sit-in (bast) and returned to her cell where she can benefit from the support of her fellow university inmates.

The Support Committee remains very worried about Fariba Adelkhah's health, especially in light of the serious coronavirus pandemic that is greatly affecting Iran.

March 30th, 2020, marked 300 days of Fariba Adelkhah's incarceration. Read the letter sent by Frédéric Mion and Olivier Duhamel on March 31, 2020.

What steps have been taken by Sciences Po and the French authorities since their detainment?

Upon receiving news of the arrests of Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, our institution immediately implemented a series of actions in close collaboration with the Crisis and Support Centre of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE) and the CNRS.

With the help of the MEAE, we have ensured that both receive the assistance of a highly experienced Iranian lawyer. Approved by the Iranian judicial authorities, this lawyer, therefore, assures the two of them a defence that is both watertight and officially authorised.

Working within the context of Iran’s particularly complex political climate, Sciences Po and the French authorities are putting every possible action in place to liberate Fariba Adelkhah.

> Sign the Support Committee's petition for their release

> Visit the Support Committee website

> Back on the event "Captives Without Cause"

Who is Fariba Adelkhah?

Fariba Adelkhah was born in 1959 in the Iranian province of Khorassan (a region that fronts the border with Afghanistan). She came to France in 1977 to pursue her university education, first at the University of Strasbourg and then at the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS). A specialist in social anthropology and the political anthropology of post-revolutionary Iran, Adelkhah has been a researcher at the Centre for International Research since 1993. Her early work considered the position of women in the Islamic Revolution, culminating in her first publication, Revolution under the Veil: Islamic Women of Iran (Karthala, 1991). Her current research examines the movement of Shia clerics between Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. A researcher of the field, renowned and respected among peers internationally, Fariba Adelkhah is a member of various academic committees and of the journals, Iranian Studies and Revue des mondes musulmans de la Méditerranée.

Adelkhah possesses dual nationality, Iranian and French.

> Read her full bio

Who is Roland Marchal?

Roland Marchal is a sociologist with the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and he has worked as a researcher at the Centre for International Studies of Sciences Po (CERI) since 1997. Roland is one of the most internationally renowned specialists on Somalia, but also on the Horn of Africa, Chad, Central African Republic and Mali. Roland also addressed theories of the “failed state”, especially drawing on his research in Somalia.

He was, with the late Christine Messiant, among the first few to criticize the reductionism of economic theories about civil wars in two groundbreaking papers published in the journal Critique internationale. Their common research, published as Les Chemins de la guerre et de la paix. Fins de conflit en Afrique orientale et australe (Karthala, 1997), demonstrated how civil wars in Sub-saharan Africa and beyond are intimately interrelated to the fabric of the state. This thinking was also the central thesis of the seminal book he co-edited with Pierre Hassner: Guerres et sociétés. Etats et violence après la Guerre froide (Karthala, 2003).

Roland Marchal was released from Evin prison and returned to France on March 21, 2020.

> Read his full bio