Open Letter about Touraj Amini

Open Letter about Touraj Amini

We, the undersigned academics, protest the arrest and imprisonment of Mr. Touraj Amini, a Baha’i scholar and historian of 19th and early 20th century Iran.

In July 2019, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence entered Mr. Amini’s home and confiscated his books and computer. A year later, in August 2020, Mr. Amini was sentenced to a one-year term of imprisonment and two years of exile. That sentence was reduced to a six-month term of imprisonment at the Alborz Province Appeal Court. Mr. Amini began serving his prison sentence on January 29, 2021 at the Central Prison of Karaj, in the midst of a raging global pandemic.

Mr. Amini was denied access to higher education by the Iranian government due to his Baha’i religious affiliation. This did not stop him, however, from making significant scholarly contributions that have enriched the field of Iranian history. Among his many books is a valuable edited collection of documents pertaining to the Zoroastrian community of Iran, entitled Asnadi az Zartoshtiyan-e moʿaser-e Iran [“Documents on Contemporary Iranian Zoroastrians”] and a five-volume collection of governmental documents pertaining to the Baha'is of Iran, entitled Asnad-e Baha’iyan-e Iran [“Documents on the Baha’is of Iran”]. Other important works include Ta`amole aghalliyatha-ye mazhabi va enghelab-e mashrutiyat-e Iran [“The Reciprocal Discourses of the Iranian Religious Minorities and the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911”] and Rastakhiz-e penhan: bazgoshayi-ye nesbat-e aʾinha-ye Babi va Baha’i ba jaryan-e roshanfekri-e Iran [“Hidden Resurrection: An Exploration of the Babi and Baha’i Faiths’ Relationship with Iran’s Intellectual Movements”].

For these scholarly contributions, Mr. Amini was accused of propaganda against the government, a completely unfounded charge. In reality, his academic research has greatly enriched our collective knowledge and understanding of Iran’s history and its peoples.

The imprisonment and persecution of Mr. Amini solely on account of his religious beliefs and the suppression of his valuable scholarly work is a flagrant violation of the fundamental human rights obligations of Iran under international law and is contrary to universal principles of tolerance and justice. We call upon the Iranian government to end such abuses, to promptly release Mr. Amini, and to return his computer and books so that he can resume his work and continue to make scholarly contributions that benefit all those who support and admire Iran and its peoples.


Ervand Abrahamian, City University of New York

Arash Abizadeh, McGill University

Janet Afary, University of California, Santa Barbara

Mahnaz Afkhami, Women’s Learning Partnership

Payam Akhavan, University of Toronto

Abbas Amanat, Yale University

Mehrdad Amanat, University of California, Santa Barbara

Camron Amin, University of Michigan - Dearborn

Abdullahi Ahmed an-Naim, Emory University School of Law

Assef Ashraf, University of Cambridge

Touraj Atabaki, International Institute of Social History

Kathryn Babayan, University of Michigan

Houri Berberian, University of California, Irvine

Ali Banuazizi, Boston College

Wendy Petersen Boring, Willamette University

Maegan Parker Brooks, Willamette University

Houchang Chehabi, Boston University

Juan Cole, University of Michigan

Ellen Eisenberg, Willamette University

Omid Ghaemmaghami, Binghamton University - The State University of New York

Latifeh Hagigi, University of California, Los Angeles

Ahmad Karimi Hakkak, University of Maryland

Homa Katouzian, University of Oxford

Franklin Lewis, University of Chicago

Zackery Mirza Heern, Idaho State University

Jonneke Koomen, Willamette University

Stephen Lambden, University of California, Merced

Todd Lawson, University of Toronto

Ali Akbar Mahdi, Ohio Wesleyan University

Afshin Marashi, University of Oklahoma

Abbas Milani, Stanford University

Ali Mirsepassi, New York University

Mansoor Moaddel, University of Maryland

Misagh Parsa, Dartmouth College

Sholeh Quinn, University of California, Merced

Nasrin Rahimieh, University of California, Irvine

Saghar Sadeghian, Willamette University

Eliz Sanasarian, University of Southern California

William T. Smaldone, Willamette University

Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, University of Toronto

Nayereh Tohidi, California State University, Northridge

Farzin Vahdat, Vassar College

Fereydun Vahman, University of Copenhagen

Mina Yazdani, Eastern Kentucky University

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