Since last September, when Iran experienced widespread anti-establishment protests, at least 155 university students have been suspended from their studies, and two others have been expelled from universities, an Iranian rights group has revealed.

The Committee for Follow-Up on the Situation of Detainees, a human rights group focused on dissidents arrested since last September, disclosed these figures on Monday, 7 August, adding that the dismissed students have been identified as Shahyar Shams from the Islamic Azad University and Alireza Baradaran Shoraka, a student at Amirkabir University of Technology.

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the Islamic morality police on 16 September 2022, sparked nationwide demonstrations in Iran, with student activists at the forefront, with thousands of students arrested by the security forces.

The group’s report stated that a total of 16 students from the University of Allameh Tabatabai had been barred from entering the institution for a combined total of 22 semesters. A previous report released on Friday, 4 August, also indicated that 18 students at Tabriz Medical School faced similar penalties.

These suspension orders have been issued by the Disciplinary Committee of Students, established in Iranian higher education institutions after the country’s cultural revolution in 1983. These committees collaborate closely with Iran’s judiciary and security forces.

Student activists argue that the actual number of suspended students is likely higher than the rights group’s disclosed figure, as several students faced pressure from both security forces and the Disciplinary Committee of Students.

A student activist awaiting a decision on their case by a disciplinary committee in the capital, Tehran, told The New Arab that during committee summonses, students are immediately warned that discussing their cases with the media would result in harsher punishments.

“In the session where I was summoned to the committee, they first asked about friends and family who were aware of my summons. I was then informed that the more attention I drew to my case, the more severe the consequences would be,” the university student stated.

The activist provided TNA with the names of suspended students from Shahid Beheshti University, though these were not included in the rights group’s published list.

“The pressures these students face extend beyond security services and universities. I know some students who keep their cases hidden from their families to avoid burdening them with university-related problems. Others fear endangering their families due to their activism,” the student added.

Meanwhile, it was also reported that during the same period, Iran’s judiciary, security forces, and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members were arrested, summoned to court, and incarcerated over 728 university students.

Among these incarcerated students, two have also been sentenced to flogging. They are identified as Fatemh Gorji from Semnan University, sentenced to one year in prison and 74 lashes, and Behzad Ghadiri, a dentistry student at Birjand University, sentenced to three years and three months in prison along with 50 lashes.

An Iranian journalist warned that the government’s intensified crackdown on activists was aimed at suppressing any potential resurgence of protests as the anniversary of the 2022 anti-establishment nationwide demonstrations approaches.

“They are well aware that people will take to the streets again for the anniversary, and the judiciary along with security officials are actively working to reduce the scale and breadth of the protests by spreading fear within society,” she said to TNA.

The journalist, who had previously faced imprisonment for her professional work during the 2009 Green Movement, emphasised that Iranian authorities had employed similar tactics following past uprisings in the country.

“I think that even the return of Gashte Ershad to the streets is a part of this strategy, and it’s a show of power to those gearing up for the anniversary of last year’s demonstrations,” she added, referring to the return of infamous police patrols enforcing the Islamic dress code in the country.

Source » newarab