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Students Protest As Restrictions Tightened On Universities

Tehran university students gathered on campus on Monday, December 4 to protest increasing pressures by authorities

Restrictions on Iranian universities have been tightened ahead of Iranian Students Day on December 7, local media have reported.

Many gatherings planned by student associations have been rejected by the authorities, daily Jame’eye Farda (Tomorrow’s Society) said on December 3.

A number of universities have presented a list of political figures, insisting that only they can attend student gatherings and deliver speeches, Jame’eye Farda noted.

Based on reports received by Radio Farda from student activists in Iran, groups of students gathered on university campuses on Monday to protest various restrictions imposed on students and their events in universities.

They were also protesting raising tuition on some students and also gender discrimination and inequality.

So far, gatherings have been reported in Tehran University and Allameh Tabatabai University also in Tehran.

Radio Farda reported on December 2, that more than a hundred students received stars next to their names and have been barred from registering in this academic year.

During the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the security and intelligence organs started a practice of marking politically suspect students who were then banned from continuing their education. As a result, the term "starred student" was coined in Iranian media and student circles.

Monday's student protests were meant to highlight both the Students Day restrictions and also the banning of "starred" student from education.

For the Students Day, the state-run Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA) published a list of prominent reformist figures who have been banned from delivering speeches at Iranian universities.

Students gathered in Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran on December 4, to protest pressures by judicial and security organs.
Students gathered in Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran on December 4, to protest pressures by judicial and security organs.

​The University of Hamadan’s medical college rejected all student proposals for gatherings on National Students' Day. The cultural department of the college announced that it will officially celebrate the day and invited students to attend.

However, a number of political figures close to reformists, including MP Mahmoud Sadeqi, mid-ranking cleric and lawyer Mohsen Rohami, and former UN ambassador Sadeq Kharrazi have been listed as “licensed” to deliver speeches on the occasion.

In a Radio Farda round-table discussion, a political analyst, Mehdi Mahdavi Azad said, "One of the main goals of the regime is to control of universities, by using various means of pressures...universities present a danger of a political explosion".

Barring reformists from delivering speeches at student assemblies appears to contradict what President Hassan Rouhani said about the necessity of granting students more freedom.

In a speech on December 2 in the city of Zabol in Sistan and Balouchestan Province, southeastern Iran, Rouhani maintained, "We are very happy that our students are now speaking loudly and clearly."

Expressing satisfaction over Students' Day being celebrated across the country, Rouhani affirmed, "Universities must be independent and free, and this was one of the aims of the [Islamic] Revolution."

Rouhani asserted that universities must be free to criticize like seminaries, adding, “Students speak without stammering."

Nevertheless, 92 student associations, 813 staff at student publications, and 8,000 student rights activists wrote letters in recent years protesting the “police state” and “threatening atmosphere” ruling over Iranian universities, as well as annulling student gatherings, illegal and extrajudicial interferences in holding them.

According to daily Jame’eye Farda, many student associations are under backbreaking restrictions but prefer not to publicize or abandon their gatherings.