[Coral-List] Categorization of Coral Reef scientists

jahangir vs vs_jahangir at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 18 09:10:49 EDT 2016

Dear Ulf, Mary Ann and others,

I really appreciate your considerations. I amsharing this in more details as I believe that it is essential for bothscientists and organizers of ICRS (or other conferences) to know about theproblem, and perhaps solve these shortcomings (related to attendees fromdeveloping countries) in the next round of conferences. I want you to considerthat the issue is not personal.

I have to first expatiate the situation thatoccurred to me few days ago. As I told, I spent my own money to travel and getmy visa from the US embassy in Ankara, Turkey (since there is no US embassy inmy home country, IRAN). But the officer just asked me three laconic questionswithout even asking for any of the essential documents (including theinvitation letter, bank statement or...). Officer: why do you wanna travel? Me:to participate in a conference. Officer: what is the conference about? Me: Itis about coral reefs. Officer: what?! Me: coral reefs. Officer: are you a kindof university lecturer? Me: no yet, but i have worked in a research ins...Officer: Do you have PhD? Me: not yet, I have MSc. Officer: who pay for yourtravel? Me: part me, I also won the travel grants. Officer: Sorry you are notqualified to get a US VISA! Me: But what about the documents, you do not wantto look at them? Officer: No, and if you do not accept my judgement you canapply again in another office!! Me: I do not know...  

The interview did not take more than a minute!So offending. I think, the regulations implemented by the US embassies withregard to conference attendees from developing countries are painfullydisrespectful. 

I can say that with their current regulations, they(embassy officers) commonly select LIARS who give positive answers totheir questions!  Aren't they aware thatcreating false documents on working status and... are fairly easy tasks in IRANand any other developing countries!! In addition, right now they are issuingtourist and business visa (named B1, which allows stay of one to 6 months longin US) for scientists who aim to participate in conferences mostly take onlyfew days. I believe this is a ridiculous strategy too.

I do not know the reason why they must includescientists with tourist or businessmen! Participation in conferences are veryimportant especially for early carrier scientist who can properly orient theirfuture researches. Many earlier carrier researchers in developing countries arenot scientific staffs of universities. In IRAN for example, there areindependent researchers who do not or cannot officially work in governmental institutes(including research institutes and universities) due their beliefs (orideologies). In fact, a researcher must be a Muslim to get accepted and ENDUREin governmental organizations. So, (according to the question they asked from me) we can conclude that US embassies are now(mostly) selecting LIARS and fairly-religious researchers and rejectingtruth-tellers and non-religious ones. 

Anyway, I think that conference organizers mustthink and do something about this kind of problems at least in future. Unless,The conferences would not be "international", but dedicated toresearchers from developed countries. I say how we want to "bridge betweenscience and policies" when political leaders do not respect us enough!! I think that is a critical subject which isalso tied with the philosophy of ICRS. In ICRS, we want "To address thisdisconnect, a theme of the 13th ICRS will be “Bridging Science to Policy” withspecific goals focusing on: 1) Improving trust and communications amongscientists, policy makers, managers and stakeholders". I think animportant stage in "BRIDGING science to policy" is to makegovernments and policy makers to respect people who dedicate their lives NOT tomoney but to understanding laws of nature!If they (US embassies) really wanna make surethat someone like me will go back to the country of origin after theconference, they surely can apply better strategies other that refusing thevisa application! Yes, I agree with some colleagues that a response to the behaviorof US embassies can be offsetting conferences holding in US, but I believe thatit is much better if conference managers and GIANTS (well-known scientists)negotiate with political leaders to alleviate this kind of problems, and makethem respect all scientists for developing countries by reforming visa regulations for conference attendees.Surely, it will not be easy but there is no other easy way out of thisentanglement!

Sincerely,Jahangir VajedSamiei


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