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 09, 2024

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Azarbaijan Shahid Madani University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 9, 2024, the Azarshahr Revolutionary Court sentenced Armita Paveer, a student of molecular and cellular biology at Azarbaijan Shahid Madani University, to twenty-two months and seventeen days in prison in relation to her participation in “Women, Life, Freedom” protests.

Paveer had been held in Tabriz prison since being arrested in September 2023. While in prison, she reportedly endured mental torture and faced severe restrictions, including coerced confessions. She resorted to multiple hunger strikes to protest against her harsh detention conditions, leading to multiple hospitalizations. In February 2024, Paveer was tried in absentia and deprived of the opportunity to secure legal representation or present a defense. The charges against her include “insulting the leadership” and “propaganda against the regime”.

This marks the third time since the “Woman, Life, Freedom” uprising that Paveer has been arrested and detained.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary imprisonment and prosecution of a student in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and assembly — conduct that 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 the Islamic Republic of Iran is a party. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and harms related higher education values including autonomy and social responsibility.