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Niloufar Bayani petitions high officials against IRGC Intelligence
Source: Iran Human Rights Monitor

About Niloufar Bayani

She then worked for the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) as a project advisor for their Post Conflict and Disaster Management branch from 2012-2017, after which she returned to Iran, where she was born and raised, to work as a program manager for the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation (PWHF). PWHF, located in Tehran, Iran, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting threatened and endangered species in Iran; when Bayani worked with them they focused primarily on the endangered Asiatic Cheetah.

Bayani’s friends, family, and previous colleagues and peers, such as fellow Columbia student Daniel Hoops, have described her as honest, charismatic, and smart, with an admirable work ethic and a “joyful charm and grace.” Friend Haley LaPalme has said she is “incredibly resilient” and someone “who has this lightness, goodness, intelligence and generosity about her that is really contagious” –“she really brings out the best in people,” Lapalme has testified. One anonymous source has said that “many people jokingly mention that their first time really looking at an insect or touching one was because of Niloufar. She spreads a love for nature that is contagious. Her interest in conserving at-risk species reflects a moral compass that she followed closely: She cared about the universe and everything that was in it.”As a student, she studied coastal ecosystems, writing her Master’s thesis in 2012 on coral reefs and algal cover in Belize. While working with UNEP, she put her studies toward helping communities and ecosystems recover from disasters such as 2016’s cyclone Mathieu in Haiti, and toward reducing risks of hazards, such as floods and avalanches in the Koh-e Baba Mountains of Afghanistan and floods and gully erosion in the Lukaya River Basin of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She has also studied anthropogenic involvement in the degradation of the Persian Gulf, and most recently, has done work with the Asiatic Cheetah. 

She and her colleagues at the PWHF were arrested and charged (some with espionage and some with “Corruption on Earth,” the latter including Bayani) while researching the Asiatic Cheetah, due to their use of camera traps in their research – despite the fact that camera traps are tools often used by wildlife researchers. She is missed and loved by her friends and family, by the entirety of the conservationist community, and surely by the population of Asiatic Cheetahs and our Earth itself. Biological conservationists need her intelligence and expertise, threatened and endangered populations need her care and compassion, the Earth as a whole needs her passion and love, and she needs her freedom.

Many of Bayani’s colleagues from the Persian Wildlife Foundation were also imprisoned

Taher Ghadirian
Amirhossein Khaleghi Hamidi

Houman Jowkar
Abdolreza Kouhpayeh
Morad Tahbaz

Sepideh Kashani
Sam Radjabi

Works Cited

“‘Torture’ and ‘Sexual Threats’ Detailed in Letters by Jailed Former UN Environment Consultant.” Center for Human Rights in Iran, February 20, 2020.

Ali. 2020. “Iran: Environmental Activists Interrogated under Severe Torture | International Liberty Association.” International Liberty Association. February 21, 2020.

Armstrong, Jeanne. “McGill Grad Jailed in Iran Being Criminalized for Environmental Work, Says Friend | CBC Radio.” CBC Radio-Canada, December 11, 2018.

Bayani, Niloufar. “Ecology and Environmental Challenges of the Persian Gulf.” Iranian Studies 49, no. 6 (November 2016): 1047–63.

———. “Niloufar Bayani.” Linkedin. Linkedin Corporation, 2017.

Bayani, Niloufar, Celine Jacmain, Marisol Estrella, and Hassan Partow. “River Partners: Applying Ecosystem-Based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR) in Integrated Water Resource Management (IRWN) in the Lukaya Basin, Democratic Republic of the Congo.” Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme, 2016.

Bayani, Niloufar, Andrew Scanlon, Marisol Estrella, Alec Knuerr, Najeeb Azad, Mohammad Sakhi Hassany, Sophie Brown, and Cristina Poiata. “Mountain Partners Applying Ecosystem-Based Disaster Risk Reduced (Eco-DRR) for Sustainable and Resilient Development Planning in the Koh-e Baba Mountains, Afghanistan.” Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Program, 2016.

“Conservationist Depicts Iranian Prison Conditions in Letters Sent to Media.” Committee of Concerned Scientists, March 8, 2020.

Dr. Bone, Elisa. “Niloufar Bayani.” Dr. Elisa Bone, 2012.

Hoops, Daniel. “A Brief Update Regarding Niloufar Bayani.” Daniel Hoops, May 11, 2020.

———. “A Friend Incarcerated.” Daniel Hoops, October 4, 2019.

Long, Kayleigh E. “Jailed Researchers Trying to Protect Threatened Cheetahs in Iran Await Verdict.” National Geographic. National Geographic, March 15, 2019.

“Profiles of Jailed Conservationists.” Any Hope for Nature, November 21, 2018.