Why Did Maryam Mirzakhani and Kutcher Birkar​ Emigrate?

October 6, 2018 by  

Gianfranca Kasraei

a research scientist at the University of Kassel, Germany
(BBC August 2018) On Wednesday, August 1, 2018, during a ceremony held in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, four mathematicians received a Fields Medal for important research in various fields of mathematics.
Among the names of the winners of the Fields Medal, was Kurtcher Birkar, a Persian-born Iranian mathematician born in Marivan, a forty-year-old mathematician from Marivan. He was formerly known as Fereydoun Derakhshani.  He was studying for many years at an undergraduate level at Tehran University and currently teaching at the University of Cambridge, UK.
The awarding of this valuable medal to Kutcher Birkar was considered by the media in two directions. First, he was an asylum seeker who came from Iran to Britain, and secondly, the second Iranian to win the Fields Award, before him, Maryam Mirzakhani. She was the only woman winning the Fields Medal, a prominent mathematician, who died three years after receiving the award.
Maryam Mirzakhani and Kutcher Birkar are not the only scholars who have left their home in recent decades and migrated to other countries for various reasons. Why has this elite immigration known as “brain drain” become one of the country’s biggest problems in recent decades?
With the onset of the Islamic Revolution in 2013 and the creation of a climate of oppression and terror especially with the onset of the Cultural Revolution and the closure of universities, there began a great wave of emigration of Iranian elites and students.
The founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Rouhollah Khomeini, had said in those years: “they say the brains escaped! Let them escape. The hell that escaped these brains! They were not the scientific brain. These brains were treacherous brains, and everybody fled from his own country to America?! Escapes from his own country to England and wants to live under the shadow of England? (Sahifeh Nour, Vol. 10, 84)
By the end of the sixties, this wave of migration did not subside. For example, in 2009, about 90 Iranian electoral candidates were emigrating abroad. The 1999 International Monetary Fund (IMF) report showed that Iran with 15 percent of the emigration of the elite to the United States and 25 percent of the elite’s migration to other developed countries, ranked among the countries with the highest rates of brain drain in the world.
Facing the problem of brain drain among officials in the Islamic Republic, however, has not always been the same. Some, such as Kamran Daneshjoo, the Minister of Science of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said that “we have no brain drain in the country,” denied the matter and some sought a remedy.
According to some statistics, the annual output of between 150,000 and 180,000 educated professionals, equivalent to a daily withdrawal of 400 to 500 people from Iran, is causing significant damage to the country. Some of these damages are estimated at $ 60 billion a year, and some more than $150 billion annually.
In other words, about 15 percent of Iran’s gross domestic product is the amount of damage that comes to the country from brain drain. Five-year-old remarks by the deputy head of the National Elite Foundation showed that 308 of the Olympiad’s medalists and 350 of the top-ranked exams from 2008 to 2008 emigrated to Iran.
In the Islamic Republic, large budgets are spent on advertising agencies and the cultural priority of the system to promote and impose their lifestyle to society. The elites and the geniuses are also not immune to the damage caused by this policy of the ruling system.
It is enough to remember that the services of the Seminary have more than 708 billion USD in annual budget, for example, the budget of Sharif University of Technology with 13 faculties of science and engineering and 18 research institutes and centers and about 500 faculty members in year 97 had only 170 billion USD set. Hundreds of billions of dollars from the Islamic Propaganda Office of Qom and the Institute for the Regulation and Publication of Works by Imam and Al-Mustafa Al-Alamiyah and dozens of institutions and the religious propaganda organization in the Islamic Republic do not leave any future and guarantee the growth and progress of elites and geniuses.
Let’s not forget that Maryam Mirzakhani, one of the survivors of the collapse of the bus carrying students from Sharif University of Technology on March 26, 1376, where seven students died on their return journey from Ahwaz.
Perhaps Arman Bahramian, Reza Sadeghi, Alireza Sayeban, Ali Heidari, Farid Kaboli, Mojtaba Mehrabadi and Morteza Rezaei, who were saddened by the incident, could have achieved like Maryam the highest scientific positions in the world in the following years. Maryam Mirzakhani, who at the Hong Kong Mathematical Olympiad with 41 points from 42 points in the world gold medal, and the following year at the World Mathematical Olympiad in Canada, scored 42 points out of 42, won the gold medal. Almost in the same years that Kutcher Birkar went to the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, from Harvard University in the United States.
Both Maryam Mirzakhani and Kutcher Birkar, while reaching the highest scientific peaks of the world, are also the symbol of the frustration of the elite; elites forced to leave their homeland because of political and social unrest.n


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