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: January 31, 2024

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment


Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 31, 2024, the family of Sepehr Shirani, an 18-year-old student of Baluch origin, received news that their son had died under suspicious circumstances while in custody of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

IRGC forces arrested Shirani in Zahedan on January 28, three days prior to his death, for his alleged online protest activities. Prior to his arrest, security forces had reportedly warned Shariani against his involvement in protests online and in person.

Authorities have yet to provide a clear explanation for the cause of Shirani’s death. At the time of writing, his body remained in the possession of the IRGC.

Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about the arrest and death in custody of a student, in apparent connection with his nonviolent exercise of the right to academic freedom and freedom of association — 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. SAR offers condolences to his family, friends, and classmates. State authorities have a responsibility to protect the right to nonviolent academic activity and association, and to ensure a prompt, independent, and transparent investigation of Sepehr Shirani’s death.