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 10, 2022

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Al Zahra University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 10, 2022, Iranian security forces dressed in plainclothes arrested Niloofar Mirzaei, a third semester graphics student at Al Zahra University, for her participation in the nationwide protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini while in custody of Iran’s “morality police.”

Mirzaei was held in Evin prison for three months before being called to a hearing in front of the Tehran Revolutionary Court on February 10, 2023. She was prevented from having a lawyer present at the hearing and defended herself. Mirzaei was later released from prison on February 23, 2023. The charges against her are unknown.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary arrest of a student in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and assembly – conduct which is protected by 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 signatory. In addition to harm to the immediate victims, such actions undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.