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Iranian University Students Met with Police Force After Protesting the Violent Death of Mahsa Amini

Mahsa Amini, pictured above, died in police custody following her arrest by Iranian “morality police.” Photo credits: photo credit: IRANWIRE/VIA REUTERS

Following the wrongful death of 22-year-old Iranian Mahsa Amini on September 16th, the reverberations of which have been felt around the world, Iranian citizens, especially women and students, have taken over the streets to protest the oppressive and discriminatory theocratic rule of Iran and the gender apartheid regime it has established. These protests have been met by appalling acts of violence and aggression from the Iranian security and police forces.

Amini, a woman from the city of Saqez, had been arrested on September 13th in Tehran by Iranian “morality police” for displaying too much hair while wearing her hijab. The “morality police,” otherwise known as the Gashte Ershad or guidance patrols, are traditionally tasked with enforcing the Islamic Republic’s dress code to “promote virtue and prevent vice.” Three days after her arrest, Amini died in custody after falling into a coma. Saleh Nikbakht, the Amini family’s lawyer, told reporters that they believe Amini was beaten in custody, contrary to the government’s claim that she suffered from pre-existing conditions. Women who were detained alongside Amini attest to her having been beaten by police.

Iranian university students have joined the Iranian women’s protests, which has significantly increased the size and frequency of the demonstrations. Students have called for strikes and boycotting both in-person and online classes. Professors, too, have joined in these protests. It is estimated that students from over 110 universities have joined the demonstrations.

The police response to the protests has been disproportionately violent, attacking protestors with no concern for human life and dignity. Most egregiously on October 2nd, Iranian security forces violently attacked student protestors at the country’s prestigious Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. Video footage displayed police members shooting rubber bullets, deploying tear gas, beating, and arresting many of the protestors. These horrific events vivify the government’s increased attacks on academic freedom in the wake of Amini’s death. The Center for Human Rights in Iran estimates that as of October 3rd, more than 90 students have been arrested throughout the country and one student has died.

It should be noted that Amini’s tragic case is not a singular, isolated event, but the boiling point of a much larger, structural issue that has come to constitute the gender apartheid regime in Iran. Women in Iran have faced “patriarchal control of women’s bodies and the paternalistic domination of public space,” according to New University in Exile Consortium-hosted scholar, Kian Tajbakhsh, in Public Seminar. These nonviolent protests that have now garnered global attention “did not emerge out of nowhere,” continues Tajbakhsh, but are part and parcel of a larger and ongoing effort to demand meaningful political change.

We at Endangered Scholars Worldwide (ESW) 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 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.

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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