Iranian Students Launch Sit-In After Violent Clashes With Security Forces Over Weekend

Students at several Iranian universities have launched sit-ins after skirmishes over the weekend where security forces fired tear gas and used live ammunition to disperse protests sparked by the death of a young woman while she was being held in police custody for allegedly violating the country's rules on wearing a head scarf.

Students began the sit-in on October 31 saying school officials must end the suspension of other students who were punished for taking part in protests that have spread across the country since 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died on September 16.

"This action [to suspend students] is illegal because it was done without any explanation of the accusations against them and without them having the right to defend themselves," said a statement from students at the University of Economics of Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran.

The sit-in is likely to heighten tensions already boiling over after clashes over the weekend amid threats from Iran's Revolutionary Guard that October 29 was to be the last day of protests by students.

University campuses have emerged as central hotbeds of opposition, playing a central role in the protests, which the government has blamed on foreign enemies and their agents. Officials have not provided any evidence to back up their claims.

The protests first focused on the state-mandated hijab, or head scarf, for women after Amini's death but quickly broadened to include calls for the downfall of Iran's theocratic leadership itself.

The rights group HRANA said that as of October 28 at least 272 people had been killed and nearly 14,000 arrested in the protests.