On March 11, 2018, members of Iran’s Basij militia reportedly clashed violently with Amirkabir University of Technology (AKU) students demonstrating against the prosecutions and arrests of student protesters in Iran.
Starting in late December, a growing number of Iranians began holding demonstrations across the country to protest economic conditions and government corruption. At least 22 people have been killed during the protests, which have frequently been the sites of intense clashes between riot police and demonstrators. According to the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), more than 40 Iranian university students were arrested between December 30, 2017 and January 4, 2018.
Students at AKU gathered on March 11, 2018 to demonstrate against measures taken by state authorities against students who had protested in early 2018. The demonstrators reportedly chanted “free all political prisoners” and specifically demanded that detained students Parisa Refiei, Marzieh Amiri and Zahra Ahmadi be released, and that convictions and sentences of other students, including Leila Hosseinzadeh, Sina Rabiei, and Mohsen Hagshenas, be reversed.
Reports indicate that, during the protest, student members of Iran’s Basij militia, wielding clubs, attacked and beat the student protesters. The Basij militia is a paramilitary volunteer force supportive of Iran’s ruling government.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent attacks on students during a campus protest. Students and other members of the university community have a responsibility to respect the right to peaceful expression on campus, and must refrain from violent attacks on other student groups. 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.