Nobel Laureates

Freedom of expression grants expressing dismay about recent developments in Iran. I have done that on this blog in particular since Iran’s presidential election with its controversial result. The brutal crack down on the opposition in the aftermath of the election and, in particular, on the occasion of Ashura on December 27 has to be condemned as what it is, sign and symptom of dictatorship, a police state. But what does that mean for the regime, and the people in Iran?

The New York Times has printed yesterday the open letter of Nobel Laureate for Peace of 1986 Elie Wiesel’s Foundation for Humanity to Presidents Obama, Sarkozy, Medvedev, Prime Minister Browne and Chancellor Merkel asking “How long can we stand idly and watch the scandal in Iran unfold?”

“We the undersigned urgently appeal to you and the other leaders of the world, to use your prestige and power to put an end to this outrage. The situation in Iran is not improving; in fact, it is worsening every day. The cruel and oppressive regime of “Supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad, whose irresponsible and senseless nuclear ambitions threaten the entire world, continues to wage a shameless war against its own people. Human rights violations have now attained new levels of horror. Thousands of the regime’s political adversaries are being arrested, imprisoned, tortured, raped, and killed, many by hanging. Seyed Ali Mousavi, nephew of the opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, has been assassinated. Former Foreign Minister Ibrahim Yazdi is among the detained. Human rights activist Emad Baghi and so many other dissidents are behind bars. The Basij militia and police continue to fire indiscriminately on unarmed, peaceful demonstrators. According to the press, riot tanks have appeared in the capital.

And yet, overcoming fear and ignoring threats, tens of thousands of freedom-loving men and women, many of them young students, are marching in the streets shouting their faith in democracy and liberty. They must know that we are on their side.”

The Wiesel Foundation calls for harsher sanctions and, yes, concrete measures “to protect this new nation of dissidents.” Fourty-four Nobel Laureates signed the letter:

Robert J. Aumann, Nobel Prize, Economics (2005)

Richard Axel, Nobel Prize, Medicine (2004)

Baruj Benacerraf, Nobel Prize, Medicine (1980)

Paul Berg, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1980)

Günter Blobel, Nobel Prize, Medicine (1999)

Thomas R. Cech, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1989)

Aaron Ciechanover, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (2004)

Georges Charpak, Nobel Prize, Physics (1992)

Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, Nobel Prize, Physics (1997)

Edmond H. Fischer, Nobel Prize, Medicine (1992)

Val Fitch, Nobel Prize, Physics (1980)

Jerome I. Friedman, Nobel Prize, Physics (1990)

Donald A. Glaser, Nobel Prize, Physics (1960)

Sheldon Glashow, Nobel Prize, Physics (1979)

David J. Gross, Nobel Prize, Physics (2004)

Roger Guillemin, Nobel Prize, Medicine (1977)

James Heckman, Nobel Prize, Economics (2000)

Alan Heeger, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (2000)

Dudley R. Herschbach, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1986)

Avram Hershko, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (2004)

Roald Hoffmann, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1981)

David H. Hubel, Nobel Prize, Medicine (1981)

Eric R. Kandel, Nobel Prize, Medicine (2000)

Walter Kohn, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1998)

Harold W. Kroto, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1996)

Finn E. Kydland, Nobel Prize, Economics (2004)

Leon M. Lederman, Nobel Prize, Physics (1988)

Eric S. Maskin, Nobel Prize, Economics (2007)

Craig C. Mello, Nobel Prize, Medicine (2006)

George A. Olah, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1994)

Douglas D. Osheroff, Nobel Prize, Physics (1996)

John C. Polanyi, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1986)

Stanley Prusiner, Nobel Prize, Medicine (1997)

Robert C. Richardson, Nobel Prize, Physics (1996)

Richard J. Roberts, Nobel Prize, Medicine (1993)

Thomas C. Schelling, Nobel Prize, Economics (2005)

Jens C. Skou, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1997)

Wole Soyinka, Nobel Prize, Literature (1986)

Klaus von Klitzing, Nobel Prize, Physics (1985)

John Walker, Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1997)

Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize, Physics (1979)

Elie Wiesel, Nobel Prize, Peace (1986)

Betty Williams, Nobel Prize, Peace (1976)

Jody Williams, Nobel Prize, Peace (1997)

I quickly checked whether for example Shirin Ebadi (2003, Peace), Orhan Pamuk (2006, Literature) or Harald zur Hausen (2008, Medicine) were among them. Fortunately, they were not.

Sanctions will not lead anywhere in Iran, in particular not to regime change. Whether the election results had been rigged could never be and probably can never be proved. Ahmadinejad may be regarded a rapscallion among the western oriented and highly educated rich in Northern Tehran and South Esfahan; he is a populist hero among the poor which constitutes the vast majority of Iran’s population. He is not only a plebeian tribune in Iran but everywhere in the Islamic world, sad to say.

Whether we like it or not, after the mass demonstrations on the occasion of the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution at the latest the so-called Green Movement has to be considered dead. Mousavi and Karroubi, I am afraid, will only appear in another show trial. Iran is now developing further into a police state, a military dictatorship, where the pasdaran, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have taken over the power probably for some time already.

The worst scenario would be a military attack by the West, in particular of Israel or the U.S. It would only strengthen the present rulers and will lead to solidarity among the people of Iran. Another war in the Middle East, beyond words.

Last update February 15, 2010

This entry was posted in Academics, Iran and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Nobel Laureates

  1. Pingback: Thinking through the Thinkable « Freelance

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