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Professional interpreters concerned by Tehran trial

GENEVA, 25 January 2001. The International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), the only world-wide association of professional conference interpreters, with 2,500 members in 75 countries, defends the professional interests of conference interpreters throughout the world and is recognised as the representative of the profession by the European Union, the United Nations and many other organisations. AIIC holds no political or religious stance of any kind. AIIC has learned with great concern that two Iranian-German translator/interpreters, Khalil Rostamkhani and Said Sadr, were recently sentenced to severe prison terms for their alleged "participation" in a conference held in Berlin last year. The conference, sponsored by the Heinrich-Böll Foundation, was convened to discuss the reform process in Iran. The Government of Iran accused the conference organisers of harbouring "anti-Iranian" and "anti-Islamic" attitudes and arrested the Iranian participants on their return home. AIIC believes it is unacceptable that a professional interpreter, translator, or any similar professional whose services have been retained for a conference should suffer persecution because of the views expressed by delegates or others. This is tantamount to punishing the messenger. As an intermediary working to facilitate communication among persons who do not speak the same language, interpreters must strike a neutral stance in order to carry out their function. In addition, professional interpreters respect confidentiality and all those who become members of AIIC undertake to observe a strict ethic of professional secrecy. Punishing interpreters for what they have heard and helped others to communicate – and have sworn not to divulge – runs counter to greater understanding among peoples and to basic human rights. The Bureau of AIIC

For further information: AIIC, Tel. 41-22-9081540
Recommended citation format:
Bureau. "Professional interpreters concerned by Tehran trial". January 25, 2001. Accessed April 8, 2020. <>.

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Brigitte Schön


I am happy that AIIC reacted fairly swiftly and I think this is a very good press release.

But it would be helpful if all colleagues who at the same time are members of national interpreters' and translators' associations would write letters of protest to their local Iranian embassies and forward these letters to all the relevant media.

We did so in Austria; and wouldn't it just be good if as many Iranian embassies as possible around the world would receive protests from us as a professional group?

Let's say that if people knew more about professional interpreters, we wouldn't have had to write any protests now - journalists would immediately have spotted what AIIC's press release has pointed out and we wouldn't have had to jump to our colleagues' defense. The punishing-the-messenger aspect would have been obvious to everyone anyway. Since this isn't the case, I would sincerely plead with you to do something on your national front as well.

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