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 06, 2024

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Loss of Position

Institution(s):Yazd Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 6, 2024, it was reported that Iranian authorities had arrested Mehdi Saadati, a pharmacy student at Yazd Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences for comments that he made on social media criticizing the commemoration of the death of General Qassem Soleimani in early January 2024. Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Science also suspended Saadati pending investigation.

The Yazd prosecutors office ordered Saadati’s arrest. According to the Dodban Legal Education and Counseling Center, Saadati was reportedly accused of supporting Zionism and insulting those who had been killed in explosions that occurred during the commemorations of General Soleimani.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about arbitrary imprisonment and suspension of a student for exercising their right to freedom of expression – 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. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from arbitrary arrests and prosecution of scholars and students for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Higher education officials should respect scholars’ exercise of such rights and refrain from disciplinary actions that punish or deter nonviolent expressive activity. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally.