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9 February 2024

More Iranian Students Barred From Studies Over Protest Activities As Crackdown Continues

At least five students have been barred from attending classes at Iran’s Soore University in the country’s latest crackdown on signs of dissent.

More Iranian Students Barred From Studies Over Protest Activities As Crackdown Continues

Image: SKahraman/Shutterstock

(RFE/RL) At least five students at Tehran's Soore University have been barred from attending classes next semester without being given due process as authorities continue to crack down on any signs of dissent on campus.

The country's Student Guild Councils reported on their Telegram channel on February 7 that Soore University has "suspended at least five students, depriving them of their right to education for the upcoming term" for activities that were deemed unacceptable.

According to the channel, the suspensions were carried out "without the conduct of disciplinary committees and legal process, with students being summoned only by the university's cultural deputy to receive their suspension orders."

Student activists have highlighted the increasingly oppressive atmosphere in Iranian universities since the start of the new academic year. This includes widespread summonses issued by intelligence and security agencies, disciplinary actions, temporary suspensions, and even expulsions of students and faculty members.

Universities and students have long been at the forefront of the struggle for greater social and political freedoms in Iran. In 1999, students protested the closure of a reformist daily newspaper, prompting a brutal raid on the dorms of Tehran University that left one student dead.

Over the years, the authorities have arrested student activists and leaders, sentencing them to prison and banning them from studying.

However, the crackdown has not been limited to students.

This week, Ahmad Shekarchi, a sociology professor at Beheshti University in Tehran, announced the university's decision to cancel his teaching contract, making him the latest in a growing line of educators to lose their jobs for supporting students and their protests.

The Khabaronline website reported on February 7 that Tehran University and the Tehran University of Medical Sciences, have fired 26 professors, while Azad University, with 14 professors being fired, has reported the highest number of professors being fired or suspended over the past two years.

In September, the Etemad newspaper published a list of 52 professors dismissed from Iranian universities, stating that the recent wave of faculty dismissals began with the onset of President Ebrahim Raisi's government in 2021 and has only intensified in the wake of the "Women, Life, Freedom" protests.

The activist HRANA news agency says at least 700 university students have been arrested during the nationwide protests sparked by the September 2022 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody for allegedly breaking the country's Islamic dress code.

Many have faced punishments such as imprisonment and flogging, and dozens of students have been expelled from universities or suspended from their studies, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.