Iranian Group Says More Than 400 Students Sanctioned In Wake Of Protests

An Iranian academic group says more than 400 students have been suspended or expelled in the wake of recent nationwide protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last September while being held for allegedly violating the strict Islamic dress code for women.

The Union Council of Iranian Students said on April 13 that 435 students had been hit with disciplinary measures, which were carried out through an illegal and security-driven process. In recent weeks, there have also been several reports of university professors being fired or suspended for accompanying protesting students.

The council said that, in response to the suspensions and expulsions, students from different universities launched a Twitter campaign on April 7 calling for the reinstatement of their colleagues.

Anger over Amini's death has prompted thousands of Iranians to take to the streets to demand more freedoms and women's rights.

Numerous protests have been held at universities, particularly in Tehran, where many students have refused to attend class. At the rallies, protesting students have chanted "Woman, life, freedom" and "Death to the dictator," a reference to the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Some female students have also removed and burned their head scarves at the demonstrations.

Universities and students have long been at the forefront of the struggle for greater social and political freedoms in Iran. In 1999, students protested the closure of a reformist daily, prompting a brutal raid on the dorms of Tehran University that left one student dead.

Over the years, the authorities have arrested student activists and leaders, sentencing them to prison and banning them from studying.

According to the Human Rights News Agency (HRANA), dating back to the start of the protests, 637 students have been detained among the 144 universities across the country that have participated in the unrest. Some sources within Iran have reported the number of detained students to be over 700.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda