On April 9, 2023, the disciplinary committee at the University of Medical Sciences in Tabriz suspended sixteen students for between one and two semesters. Eight of the students were also reportedly exiled to other cities.
The university’s disciplinary committee summoned more than forty students after they participated in a peaceful protest on March 7, 2023. The students’ demands focused on a lack of security at schools, after a wave of school girls had fallen sick, apparently from chemical attacks, at schools across Iran. According to the Center for Human Rights Iran, the disciplinary committee subjected the students to fifteen minute hearings during which they were not allowed to defend themselves.
According to a post on Telegram, several graduates working at the university were also summoned after signing a letter in protest of the disciplinary committee’s decisions.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about a higher education institution suspending students for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Higher education authorities should refrain from such disciplinary actions and respect students’ exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, disciplinary actions intended to deter or punish organized student expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.