In recent weeks, there have been numerous reports of the Iranian regime’s dismissal of professors and suspension or expulsion of protesting students from universities across the country. The regime has been using these tactics to suppress dissent in response to the nationwide protests and uprisings of the Iranian people.
The regime’s actions are a clear violation of human rights and have raised concerns about the state of academic freedom in Iran. Professors who were dismissed were often targeted for exercising their right to free speech and questioning the regime’s policies, including the harsh treatment of protesters, the use of death sentences, and the broadcasting of forced confessions on state television.
The suspended or expelled students are being denied their right to education, and their futures are jeopardized. The regime’s crackdown on universities and their students and faculty represent a grave injustice, and the international community must take action to hold the Iranian regime accountable.
By speaking out against these injustices and supporting those who have been unfairly targeted, we can help to end the oppression and violence that has become all too common in Iran.
Forced retirement and dismissal of professors
The unfortunate practice of forced retirement and dismissal of professors due to security pressures and their association with students’ rights is prevalent in universities.
In a recent instance, 11 guest professors from the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad were fired, including Mahshid Gohari, a prominent literature professor.
Gohari took to her Instagram page to announce her termination after seven years of dedicated teaching alongside several of her colleagues.
The university’s decision to terminate cooperation with six professors from the faculty of literature, three professors from the faculty of law and political science, and two professors from the faculty of mathematics and administrative and economic sciences were due to their support for students’ rights, according to the Iranian student union councils.
Zahra Khoshkjan, Assistant Professor of Political Sociology at the Bahonar University of Kerman, was summoned to the Committee on Faculty Members’ Offenses for supporting student strikes and not holding classes on December 5, 6, and 7, 2022. She was suspended from teaching at the university and banned from entering. Ms. Khoshkjan is a member of the National Elite Foundation of Iran, winner of the Farabi Award, and a member of the World Sociological Association.
Also, there is news about the beginning of the confrontation and dismissal of professors of the technical faculty of Tehran University, and a meeting has been organized to deal with their violations.
The subject of this meeting was the issuance of a statement by the professors of the technical faculty, in which they condemned the incidents of October 29, 2022, in the Amirabad campus, i.e., the entry of plainclothes agents into the campus, the arrest and beating of students, and the damage to the university’s property.
Also, nine professors of the political science faculty of Azad University, Central Tehran branch, including three female professors, received a “compulsory retirement” order. Some sources have referred to this dismissal of professors under the title of “soft cleansing.” (The state-run Rouydad24 website, February 4, 2023)
Expulsion and suspension of university students
As per the Iranian student union councils, three students, including Massoumeh Momeni, a Composing Music undergraduate at the University of Arts, and two students from Tehran University, have received a temporary ban from education by the disciplinary committee. The students have been accused of creating disruptions, and disturbances, participating in illegal gatherings, and not adhering to the Islamic dress code, affecting the university’s affairs and programs. Furthermore, two students studying at the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literature at Tehran University have been sentenced to a six-month temporary ban from studying.
The Disciplinary Committee of the University of Medical Sciences in Bandar Abbas issued extensive disciplinary orders against the protesting students and placed many students in the fields of medicine, nursing, anesthesia, health, and emergency medicine of this university on an executive or conditional suspension from their studies, exile and forced transfer to the university.
On February 5, 2023, the disciplinary committee of Zabul University ordered the expulsion of three students, namely Mojdeh Saadati, an acting student, Shahab Kamali, a civil engineering student, and Sara Jahantigh, a physics student. Siavash Fattahi, an agricultural engineering student, has also been prohibited from studying and utilizing the university’s amenities for two semesters. Sadly, 16 Zabul University students have been expelled so far. The male and female students were subjected to such extreme measures for simply trying to enjoy lunch together at the university’s restaurant.
The university’s unjust actions against these students clearly violate their basic rights.
Purging and firing teachers
The sweeping purges of educational personnel also extend to primary and high school teachers. One such teacher, Mrs. Azam Al-Sadat Jalali, was summoned for reading the story “The Wise Chicken and the Monkey” to her students at a primary school in Arak. She was summoned to the first-instance board for administrative violations by education employees in the Central Province, located in Arak.
The following day, she was summoned to the Department of Education security office and subjected to interrogation. Despite her cooperation, she was asked to report to the General Department of Education. Upon refusing to attend the said office and returning to school, Ms. Jalali was banned from attending the classroom via a phone call.
Earlier, Zeynab Molaei Rad was banned from teaching until further notice.
Zeynab Molaei Rad is the mother of Kian Pirfalak, who died at the age of 9 after security forces opened fire on their car during the protests in Izeh.
On January 21, 2023, Zeynab Molaei Rad was summoned to the Intelligence Police station in Izeh city and informed that she could not go to work until further notice. Ms. Molaei Rad taught at Fatemieh Conservatory in Izeh.