As those associated with scientific and medical associations are increasingly involved in human rights issues, they may consequently become targets of persecution and violence. Some are imprisoned simply because of the nature of their work, and others because of direct opposition to their government.
One of the earliest organized campaigns to liberate unjustly detained scientists was directed at Soviet scientists sent to labour camps in Siberia in the late 1970's.
A 1992 USA report showed 41 engineers; 24 doctors, dentists, and nurses; and 8 scientists imprisoned in Libya. The count in Burma was 7 doctors, 3 dentists, 2 physicists, 1 surgeon, 1 mathematician, 1 botanist and 1 engineer. The Syrian government imprisoned 92 people working in health-related occupations. According to the report, some of the above mentioned prisoners had been in detention for more than 10 years, and many had been tortured.