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: February 13, 2019

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Hakim Sabzevari University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 13, 2019, authorities arrested Hakim Sabzevari University student Mojtaba Dadashi, in apparent retaliation for expression critical of Iran’s government. Following a closed door trial, a court sentenced Dadashi to three years imprisonment and 74 lashes.

Dadashi, a political science student, reportedly posted a video on Twitter and Telegram, a messaging app, on February 4, where he said “this regime is neither Islamic, nor a republic, nor revolutionary” . . .“This regime is ruled by a minority that has sucked the blood out of this country for 40 years.” On February 13, authorities arrested Dadashi on charges of “insulting the supreme leader,” “insulting the heads of the three branches of state,” and “propaganda against the state.” Authorities released Dadashi on bail on February 17.

On March 16, Dadashi appeared in a closed door trial. On April 3, after the trial, the court sentenced Dadashi to three years imprisonment and 74 lashes. Dadashi reportedly refused to appeal the verdict against him, on the theory that doing so would amount to endorsing what he believes to be an unjust judicial process. Dadashi began serving his sentence on April 13.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the imprisonment and prosecution of a student in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from restricting or retaliating against such conduct, so long as it is carried out peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, arbitrary such actions undermine freedom of expression, academic freedom, and democratic society generally.