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New Report Details Ongoing Violations of Academic Freedom, Unjust Expulsions in Iran

Protestors gather in Iran. Photo credits to Reuters.

As the Women, Life, Freedom revolution in Iran sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death carries on into 2023, the Iranian regime continues to crackdown on academic freedom by expelling and suspending university professors who had expressed dissent against the government’s abuses of student protestors. According to a report released by the International Community of Iranian Academics (ICOIA), 18 professors have been fired since September 2022, many of whom were targeted in retaliation for not disclosing the identities of student protestors to the authorities.

Deutsche Welle reported that one such academic, Farshid Norouzi, a professor of English literature at the University of Mazandaran, was told his contract would not be renewed after he refused to reveal the names of students who had boycotted class during the semester. In another instance, Shamsi Abbasali-Zadeh, an Obstetrics professor at the Medical University of Tabriz, was suspended after a court punished her for attempting to monitor the wellbeing of her students involved in the protests after one of them died during a demonstration.

Three additional professors were also arrested and detained for at least a week over the course of the semester, including Fatemeh Mashadi-Abbas, Mohammad Sadigh Amiri, and Behrooz Chamanara. The latter had been kidnapped by security forces after attending a university meeting intended to combat the challenges the campus was facing surrounding the protests.

The extent of the expulsions and suspensions is yet to be accurately determined as more professors and students continue to report their stories over social media and expose further government breaches of human rights. Part of the report written by ICOIA was made possible only by information leaked by a hacking group called Black Reward.

In addition to academic expulsions, the Iranian regime continues to imprison, kill, torture, and kidnap university students who have coordinated and participated in protests, much of which has been especially targeted towards women and girls. These abuses not only violate international humanitarian law, but have greatly eroded academic freedom and prosperity in Iran. As of January 2023, at least 1000 students have been banned from re-entering universities and more than 700 students have been arrested across 147 universities. ICOIA has also reported that these students have been imprisoned for indeterminate periods of time and have had no access to appropriate medical care, which many need.

Endangered Scholars Worldwide (ESW) forcefully condemns the ongoing expulsion and suspension of Iranian academics who have protested the injustices perpetrated by the Iranian regime in the wake of the Women, Life, Freedom revolution. We continue to support the Iranian protestors, including students, academics, and civilians, who for decades have been living under systematic discrimination, abuse, and oppression by Iran’s Islamic Republican regime. 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 inhumane actions of the Iranian government and security forces; to ask for the unconditional release of all arrested student protestors’ immediate and to demand a halt to all executions; to demand the reinstatement of all unlawfully dismissed Iranian academics; and to support the local protests on behalf of Mahsa Amini and the Iranian students, who continue to advocate for justice and freedom.

Please send appeals 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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