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: June 16, 2023

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Azerbaijan Shahid Madani University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 16, 2023, the disciplinary committee of Azerbaijan Shahid Madani University in Tabriz issued “final verdicts” suspending 20 students for their support for ongoing protests over the female dress code at Tehran University of Art (see report).

The disciplinary committee issued the students sentences that included “suspension from education for half a year” and “temporary deprivation of education.” In total, 80 students were summoned by the disciplinary committee. In addition to the 20 students already sentenced, an additional 25 students are waiting for their verdicts, and another 35 students have been summoned for a hearing.

Madani University reportedly began using disciplinary measures extensively, particularly in the last weeks of the Spring 2023 semester. These measures take place in the context of the ongoing nationwide “Women, Life, Freedom” protests.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by a university suspending students for their support for student protests. 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.