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Iranian Human Rights Group Protests Government Crackdowns on University Students

Students from Sharif University of Technology protest in Tehran on Oct. 7. Courtesy of The Washington Post, obtained by the AP.

As the anti-regime protests that started in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s murder by the state enters its tenth week in Iran, Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO), an organization based in Norway, has called on universities around the world to condemn the government crackdown that targets university campuses. According to IHRNGO, the state-sanctioned security forces-led sieges and attacks on higher education institutions is an “outrageous violation” of human rights and university autonomy. This call to action comes after the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported on November 2 that more than 130 Iranian universities have participated in nationwide protests and over 400 university students have been arrested. It is also estimated that at least 277 Iranians have died since the protests first began.

In the call to action, IHRNGO’s Director, Mahmoud Amiry-Moghaddam, asks “universities and academic institutions around the world to support student demands and condemn the outrageous violation of university campuses by Islamic Republic forces.” Amiry-Moghaddam, who also spoke with University World News, reiterated that “it is important to send the message to heads of universities and university management in Iran that they are also responsible for [protecting] the students.” IHRNGO’s full statement is available here.

The protesters have simply demanded to end the gender apartheid regime of the Islamic republic and to guarantee individual and civic rights, including gender equity. As reported in previous ESW articles, Iranian security forces have violently attacked student protestors, committed them to psychological facilities for “reform,” and kidnapped several others from their university dormitories. One student from Guilan University confided that “more and more university guards and later plainclothes forces were sent in camouflage among us. They take photos and videos and spot certain students who seem to be more active and arrest them outside the university.” UN OHCHR also reported cases of physical and sexual violence against women and girls during protests, as an intimidation tactic to frighten the protesters and their families.

Nevertheless, Iranian university students continue to take up their chant “Woman, Life, Freedom” in organized protests, even at the risk of expulsion, assault, and arrest. University cafeterias, in particular, have become “a new front line.” Students are now organizing to eat lunch together in what have typically been gender-segregated dining halls, moving to outdoor protest picnics when faced with retaliation by the university or police authorities. Their resiliency has been a key factor in the movement’s momentum, which is the reason that the government’s crackdowns on university students has been so violent.

Endangered Scholars Worldwide (ESW) fully endorses IHRNGO’s call to action and continues to stand with the protestors who seek to defend the unjust, lost life of Mahsa Amini and commend their efforts to use academic freedom as a tool for solidarity and justice. ESW deplores and condemns the use of force by the Iranian state, which has resulted in multiple deaths and injuries following the murder of Amini. We also condemn the ongoing detention and mistreatment of Iranian protestors who continue to be abused, arrested, and violated by Iranian security and police. We call upon all international organizations, academic and professional associations, and other groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights and academic freedom to strongly protest and condemn the actions of the Iranian government and security forces; to ask for all student protestors’ immediate and unconditional release; and to support the local protests on behalf of Mahsa Amini and the Iranian students, who continue to advocate for their justice and freedom. Please see ESW’s Iran country page for additional coverage.

Please send appeals on behalf of the student protestors to the following:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

The Office of the Supreme Leader

Jomhouri Street


Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 644 11



President Raisi

The Office of the President

Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection


Islamic Republic of Iran

Javad Zarif

Minister of Foreign Affairs

The Minister’s Office

Imam Khomeini Square


Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 66743149



Michelle Bachelet

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Palais des Nations

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland



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