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: November 23, 2020

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):University of Tehran

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 23, 2020, Iranian security forces arrested University of Tehran anthropology student, Elham Samimi.

A report published by Iranian Students Trade Union Council stated that Iranian security forces first raided Samimi’s home on October 16, when they confiscated her and her family’s belongings, including laptops and cellphones, and threatened her. On several occasions following the initial raid, the forces summoned Samimi to an undisclosed location and interrogated her.

Samimi refused to return to be interrogated a final time on November 23. However, after security officials threatened Samimi and her family, she answered a summons to appear at Evin Prison, where she was detained upon arrival. As of September 2021, it is unclear whether or not Samimi remains imprisoned, or what, if any, charges were brought against her.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the apparently arbitrary interrogation and detention of a student by state forces. Arbitrary arrests and imprisonments without particularized and reasonable suspicion may violate recognized international human rights standards. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.