Security forces in Iran have unleashed a new wave of repression campaigns in universities, using both verbal and physical assaults to suppress student movements.
Iran International network revealed that harassment in both public and private universities has significantly increased in various cities, raising concerns about the safety of students and freedom of expression within educational institutions in Iran. Student movements played a crucial role in shaping and sustaining last year’s popular protests, which erupted after the police arrested Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old, for not wearing a hijab.
As the anniversary of the protests in September approaches, students and student activists are concerned about the escalating violence by security forces to suppress any new protests in universities before they gain momentum.
A student from Beheshti University in Tehran told Iran International, “Security personnel patrol the campus on motorcycles to terrorize students and warn them about the hijab, using extremely humiliating practices and highly offensive language.”
The network further reported that surveillance cameras captured instances of students being physically assaulted by security personnel at the Allameh Tabataba’i University in Tehran. An increasing number of Iranian female students have chosen not to wear the mandatory hijab, considering it a symbol of the patriarchal society that contradicts their pursuit of gender equality.
Their refusal to comply with government-imposed dress codes serves as evidence of their dissatisfaction with the prevailing Islamic state and its policies.
The network also stated that on June 15, many students at the Faculty of Arts in Tehran suffered serious injuries during protests against stricter hijab rules, inflicted by the head of campus security. Similar assaults have occurred in other cases. While there is no accurate available statistic on the number of female students suspended or barred from universities for not wearing the mandatory hijab, students claim that dozens have been deprived of the opportunity to continue their education for this reason.
Threatening students’ families
A student from Al-Zahra University tweeted that university security guards are in contact with the students’ parents and, through baseless accusations, exert pressure on the students and their families.
The student said, “My family reluctantly agreed to come to Tehran, where the university’s security office canceled my residency last month because of the hijab issue.”
She continued, “The behavior of the security personnel was so disturbing and ugly that I prefer not to talk about it. Essentially, I have no place to stay, and I cannot afford rent and food expenses in Tehran, so I find myself forced to leave my studies and return to my hometown.”
Students stated that the activities of the Hijab and Dress Committee, responsible for ensuring students’ compliance, have expanded during the summer examination period. Security personnel are present in examination halls and issue warnings to students. If they refuse to comply, they will later be prevented from entering the university without prior notice.
Students said that university officials and professors attempted to intervene and allow banned students to take exams, but the security forces did not permit it.