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Sunday, December 17, 2006

40 institutes boycott Iran think tank over Holocaust conference

Last update - 04:35 17/12/2006   
40 institutes boycott Iran think tank over Holocaust conference
By The Associated Press

PARIS - Nearly 40 European and North American research institutes will suspend contacts with a leading Iranian think tank that helped organize last week's conference in Tehran of Holocaust deniers, a Paris-based researcher said Saturday.
The institutes, from Warsaw to Washington and beyond, have agreed to suspend ongoing programs with the Iranian Institute for Political and International Studies, or IPIS, according to a statement issued by Francois Heisbourg, who organized the boycott.
They have also refused participation in IPIS meetings or invite IPIS staff to their own forums and to decline travel to Iran sponsored by the Iranian institute.
The December 11-12 conference in Tehran drew Holocaust deniers from around the world to debate whether the World War II genocide of Jews took place. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a keynote speaker, said that Israel will one day be "wiped out" and "humanity will achieve freedom."
The conference drew denunciations from around the world.
Researchers, led by Heisbourg, decided to issue their own form of protest by boycotting the Iranian institute that organized the conference.
"It's the equivalent for us of breaking off diplomatic relations between embassies," Heisbourg said in a telephone interview.
Heisbourg, chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and president of the Geneva Center for Security Policy, said the IPIS is a touchstone in Iran for foreign researchers.
The statement describes the IPIS as a "mainstream Iranian interface" with foreign think tanks.
"Through its complicity with the deniers of the absolute evil that was the Holocaust, IPIS has now forfeited its status as an acceptable partner," according to the statement.
IPIS had the leading role in organizing the Tehran conference, calling for papers, sending invitations, arranging logistics, Heisbourg said.
"They convened the meeting and ran the meeting," he said.
The decision to suspend contacts with the IPIS was a moral, not a political, decision, Heisbourg said, "to make it very, very clear that every time a red line is crossed there actually is a price to be paid. The price here is quite real."
The decision to boycott IPIS will not be reconsidered without "an explicit repudiation of Holocaust denial and a return to academic standards," the statement said.
Dozens of European and American experts signed on to the statement, as well as several in Canada and Australia.
Heisbourg said that among the signatories are John J. Hamre, head of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington; Volker Perthes, director of Berlin's Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik; Tomas Ries, director of the Swedish Institute for International Affairs; Ognyan Minchev, director of the Institute for Regional and International Studies in Sofia, Bulgaria; Gordon Smith of the Center for International Studies in Victoria, Canada; Eugeniusz Smolnar, director for the Centre for International Relations in Warsaw, Poland; Ross Babbage, director of Australia's Strategy International.
An array of French signers includes Thierry de Montbrial, director of the French Institute of International Relations.

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