The African Studies Association—the largest organization of its kind, representing the interests of 2,000 scholars of Africa—protests against the unjust imprisonment of French sociologist Dr. Roland Marchal and his colleague, the anthropologist Dr. Fariba Adelkhah, by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Both have been detained since June this year. We call for their immediate release.  

Dr. Marchal— senior researcher from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and based at the Centre de Recherches Internationales in Paris —is a leading scholar of the Horn of Africa. He is the author of many works, including Les Chemins de la Guerre et de la Paix (Karthala, 1997), which demonstrated how civil wars in Africa were organized in relationship to the architecture of the state. He has done foundational research in difficult places, particularly in Somalia, where he has shown that legitimate political authority rests not with governments propped up by Western intervention but with ostensibly ‘informal’ institutions, like Islamic courts. He is a critical observer of Western governments’ interventions in Somalia, Mali, Chad and Sudan, and has put his expertise in the service of the United Nations, especially with reference to Somalia.

Dr. Marchal was detained in June this year after he crossed the Persian Gulf to celebrate Eid al Fitr with his colleague, Fariba Adelkhah. They are being held in Evin Prison, in the north of Tehran, and are charged—without substantiation—with breach of national security.

Together with our colleagues in the Middle Eastern Studies Association—whose statement concerning the detention of Fariba Adelkhah was addressed to the Government of Iran in July this year—we call for the quick release of these two scientific prisoners. Their scholarly work is of great value and importance, and their detention is a miscarriage of justice. It is imperative that the fundamental rights of our colleagues be honoured.

We ask the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to restore the freedom of Dr. Marchal and his colleague, Dr. Adelkhah. 


Sciences Po biography of Roland Marchal

Sciences Po biography of Fariba Adelkhah

Statement from the Middle Eastern Studies Association