SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: December 30, 2017

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Tehran

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

From December 30, 2017, to January 1, 2018, police officers and students reportedly clashed violently during protests at the University of Tehran. At least 15 students have reportedly been arrested during the protests.

Starting in late December, a growing number of Iranians began holding demonstrations across the country to protest economic conditions and government corruption. At least 20 people have been killed during the protests, which have frequently been the sites of intense clashes between riot police and demonstrators.

Students held protests at the University of Tehran from December 30, 2017, to January 1, 2018. According to media sources, hundreds of students gathered on campus to protest the government; some of the students reportedly chanted “death to the dictator,” referencing Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Police forces on the scene reportedly deployed tear gas and used violent force in order to quell the protests; some students reportedly threw stones at police in response. Authorities have reportedly arrested at least 15 students who participated in the protests.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent clashes between security forces and students during a campus protest. While authorities have a legitimate interest in maintaining order, they must do so in ways that are proportional to the situation, minimize the risk of physical injury, and otherwise respect academic freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and other applicable human rights. State and university authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with such rights, so long as they are exercised peacefully and responsibility. Likewise, students must peacefully and responsibly exercise their right to freedom of expression and assembly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such actions have a chilling effect on academic freedom and university autonomy, and undermine democratic society generally.