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 07, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Ferdowsi University of Mashhad

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On December 7, 2022, members of the Basij, a volunteer paramilitary organization that operates as a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and university guards used violent force against students protesting at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad.

The attack occurred during a day of protests across Iran to commemorate Student Day, which marks the anniversary of the killing of three University of Tehran students by Iranian police in 1953. Protests this year were particularly widespread against the backdrop of a nationwide movement sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini while in custody of the “morality police” in September 2022.

At Ferdowsi University, the Basij and uniformed guards attacked students with batons and dragged them away by force. Clashes between the students and security personnel ensued, and a number of protestors were injured. At least one student was reportedly injured badly enough that an ambulance was called for medical treatment.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of force by security personnel on student protesters. While state authorities have the right to take reasonable measures to ensure order, they must also exercise restraint and refrain from disproportionate actions, actions that may result in unnecessary harm, and or actions which encroach on the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly – conduct which is expressly protected by international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a party In addition to harm to the immediate victims, such use of violence undermines academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.

*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)