Iranian Student Protestors Persist Amidst Brutal Government Crackdowns 40 Days After Amini’s Death
On October 26th, students and citizens across Iran rallied together in coordinated marches and demonstrations as part of their on-going call to demand justice for Mahsa Amini, an Iranian woman who died in detainment after she was arrested by “morality police'' for wearing her hijab “improperly.” The protests on the 26th marked the fortieth day since Amini’s untimely death and were met with egregious police violence that has become part and parcel of the Iranian government’s crackdown on civic unrest.
BBC News reports that at least 300 Iranian students have been detained since Amini’s death, which caused a national and global outcry this past September. The release of these students has become one of the demands of the protestors whose violent repression by Iranian security forces continues to increase. University students who have participated in recent marches and boycotts have not only been arrested by Iranian authorities, but have been taken to mental health institutions against their will, according to CNN. Iran’s Education Minister Yousef Nouri confirmed that students have in fact been booked into “psychological institutions” to supposedly “reform” and “reeducate” them. In addition to legal and psychological detentions, the brutal attacks on the protestors by Iranian military and police forces have taken the lives of hundreds. Iran’s Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) reports that an estimated 222 people have been killed since the protests began, many of which are university students.
These extreme acts of political and physical abuse against Iranian students have also extended to young school children. In mid-October, news outlets reported that a teenage girl, Asra Panahi, died after police confronted a group of protesting girls at a high school in the northern city of Ardebil. Just as in the case of Amini, officials blamed her death on a chronic heart illness and denied any acts of aggression. Amnesty International has also reported that 23 children have died in protests at the hands of the Iranian police since the demonstrations began.
Despite all this, Iranian students persevere in their efforts to coordinate anti-government and anti-establishment protests on behalf of Amini and their fellow detained and killed students. On November 1, HRANA posted images of sit-in strikes (pictured above) led by students at several university campuses in the capital whose signs indicated they were protesting on behalf of “imprisoned students.” University students included those at Sharif University of Technology, Al-Zahra University, and Amir Kabir University of Technology, the former of which was the site of multiple attacks on students by police in early October that included the deployment of rubber bullets, tear gas, and beatings. Some political figures have expressed support for these students who remain under attack by the government and police; "universities should be protected,” tweeted Azar Mansouri, a women's rights activist and head of the pro-reform Union of Islamic Iran People Party. “[They should] be a safe space for students.”
Endangered Scholars Worldwide (ESW) continues to stand by 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 last article on the Iranian protests and police violations for additional coverage.
Please send appeals on behalf of the student protestors to the following:
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 644 11
The Office of the President
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Islamic Republic of Iran
Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Minister’s Office
Imam Khomeini Square
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 66743149
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