The entrance gate of Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran

Iranian University Students Demand End To Repression

Tuesday, 11/14/2023

Tarbiat Modares University students in Tehran ended a two-day strike organized to protest harsh hijab enforcement and other campus restrictions by authorities.

According to the popular Telegram channel of the National Student Unions Council, Tarbiat Modares University students held their strike on Sunday and Monday under the slogan "End the Repression”.

Described as an "occupation" of the university, the document presented by the group details the oppression that the students feel as if it were a form of “martial law”. Since the suppression of protests last year, when security forces killed more than 500 civilians and arrested around 22,000 others, the authorities began cracking down on university students, who played a major role in the "Women, Life, Freedom” movement.

“Protesting and speaking out results in violence, insults, and disciplinary action," it said. "Every day we are harassed by the university security forces; insults, physical attacks, threats, and invasion of privacy are part of our daily lives."

The students believe the regime's behavior is intended to "scare, depress, and isolate” them so that their voices cannot be heard, the union claiming the regime's "goal is to silence us through force”.

A protest rally by Iranian students

Activists say that since the beginning of the new academic year, Iran's universities have been experiencing severe security measures, which include "mass summons from intelligence and security agencies and disciplinary committees" as well as "temporary suspension" and "expulsion" orders issued to students and professors.

In their statement, the students outlined their demands. They stated that since students feel oppressed in the university environment, they propose that security forces stay away from the campus, remain at guard posts, and wear uniforms with their names on them.

Moreover, they want an end to the verbal and physical harassment of students, physical violence, phone calls, and filing of disciplinary complaints for the way students dress.

The students also demanded the overturning of new regulations governing student entry and exit from the university including gender-segregated gates.

Their statement states that the strike was the first step of an ongoing campaign and that they will continue protesting in various forms until their demands are met and university management and security make the necessary changes to make the university environment more conducive to students.

In the aftermath of last year's uprising in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini in morality police custody, the harsh treatment of students has intensified.

A video was released on social media last week showing the head of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Tehran attacking and insulting students, referring to the faculty as a "brothel" and the students as "prostitutes". 

After the incident, students from another university, Tabatabai University Faculty of Social Sciences, issued a statement in support of the students who were insulted and said: "University officials have a fundamental hatred for knowledge and students."

After the backlash, Gholamreza Jamshidiha claimed that male and female students had been "kissing" and "shaking hands".

At the beginning of the current academic year, a joint statement by 12 university trade unions announced that after a year since the people's uprising, the student movement has entered a new phase of activism and resistance which will render the “government's repressive measures ineffective.”

As the new academic year approaches, "with the accumulation of experience and along the path of no return, it is time to reclaim and redefine the university as a place for building the future", it said.

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