Source: Family members, allies, colleagues and friends of Homa Hoodfar
This letter was sent to authorities in Canada, Ireland and Iran
June 8, 2016
We write to express our shock at hearing that Dr. Homa Hoodfar was
arrested on June 6 th 2016 and detained in Evin prison in Tehran.
We would like to draw your attention to the fact that Dr. Homa Hoodfar, is a
highly respected university professor at Concordia University, Montreal where
she has been residing for 30 years.
She is an internationally renowned and widely published anthropologist who studies a range of issues related to the role of women in Middle Eastern societies and their struggle for autonomy.
We understand that Professor Hoodfar travelled to Iran in February, this year to see her family. Shortly before she was to return home, she was arrested in March, but released on bail. After being interrogated for months, Professor Hoodfar was once again summoned for interrogation on Monday June 6 th and then imprisoned without due process.
Dr. Hoodfar’s arrest is incomprehensible given that she has never been involved
in politics of any sort. Indeed, her research is known to be dispassionate and
several of her studies highlight the opportunities women have availed of in Iran. This is the case for example, of her recent work that showcases women volunteer health workers in Iran’s health system. As stated in the report "Health Workers and Health Knowledge as Avenues of Empowerment", the “research project has created the space for women we interviewed to reflect on their acquired sense of sense -fulfilment and self- worth; and how they have overcome the problems and challenges that accompanied their new role in the public sphere as health volunteers.”
Professor Hoodfar is appreciated everywhere for her moderate and balanced views of politics and history. She is very much a patriot when it comes to Iran and, and often argues that change must come from within through internal processes in societies and working within religious parametres.
Hoodfar has regularly praised and showcased the fact that Iran’s national
achievements are noteworthy” 1 in reducing infant and maternal mortality rates, for example. Similarly, she notes that “the Islamic regime in Iran has popularized, by means of the Friday sermon and other media, the fundamental importance of practicing family planning. The government population policy has met with considerable success because it combines Islamic discourse with modern population discussion in a very accessible format.”2
She has also stressed the effectiveness of the Health Ministry for having “designed and implemented an efficient, low-cost health system that today remains one of its most successful programs.”3
We are deeply concerned that, following her arrest, Dr. Hoodfar is not being allowed to see her lawyer or contact family and that her relatives have not been able to ensure she has the medication she needs.
We would draw your attention to the fact that Dr. Hoodfar’s suffered a stroke last year and that she has a neurological illness that needs regular medical attention and treatment for which she need to return to Canada.
We therefore respectfully request that Iranian authorities:
Provide Dr Hoodfar immediate access to her family and lawyers;
Ensure Dr Hoodfar has the medicines she requires for her neurological
illness, her condition is monitored and the report shared with her family;
Release Dr Hoodfar and return her passport and other essential documents so she can travel back to Montreal to continue her treatment there and resume her academic work.
1 H Hoodfar & S Assadpour. “The Politics of Population Policy in the Islamic Republic of Iran”; Studies in Family Planning 2000; 31(1):19-34
2 H Hoodfar. “Population policy and gender equity in post-revolutionary Iran” in Family, gender and population in the Middle East: polices in context” edited by Carla Makhlouf Obermeyer. 1995.
3 Hoodfar, “Health as a context for social and gender activism: Female Volunteer
Health Workers in Iran.” Population and Develoment Review. 36(3): 487-510