Widespread protests against harsher regulations to tighten state control over university students have forced Iran’s Deputy President, Laya Joneidi to promise amending the new restrictions.
Hundreds of Iranian university students who have protested the decision believe that the new Disciplinary Rules will lead to police-state dominating higher-learning institutions across Iran.
The new regulations, passed by the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council’s Committee for the Islamization of Universities of Iran on April 21, give the universities a free hand to arbitrarily punish students for their peaceful online activities.
Ex-president Mohammad Khatami's spokesman, Abdollah Ramazanzadeh, students' and women's rights activist, Bahereh Hedayat, and other rights advocates are among those who have protested the regulations on social media.
Ramazanzadeh has called upon the Islamic Republic President Hassan Rouhani to assign his deputy for Legal Affairs to adapt the new regulation with the Civil Rights Charter endorsed by his cabinet.
Meanwhile, the state-run Iran Students News Agency (ISNA) cited Laya Joneidi as promising on Wednesday, October 30, to review the recently "amended" regulations.
Cooperating with the students, the government will eliminate articles inconsistent with the Civil Rights Charter, Joneidi promised. But promises by presidential aides does not mean the regulations will be amended. The final word on such issues is with security organs in Iran.
Earlier on April 26, 2019, director of governmental Academic Affairs Organization, Jamasb Nozari, had told ISNA, "Publishing unethical photos or committing immoral acts in cyberspace and on information-sharing networks will result in disciplinary action against students."
However, the new rules stop short of defining what is or is not "unethical," setting the scene for arbitrary decisions.
"It has been unprecedented in academic disciplinary regulations in the Islamic Republic to refer to terms, such as 'keeping illegal and unlicensed media products’, ‘disregarding dress codes,' and disseminating unethical subjects on cyberspace," a student rights activist and lawyer, Mohammad Ali Kamfirouzi Kamfirouzi has noted.
The new regulations also reveal to what extent security organs intrude into the lives of citizens and prosecute people at will.
Based on the older version of the regulations, the Secretariat of Disciplinary Committee was obliged to inform a student in advance of a disciplinary hearing session about the reason for the summons. The new regulations have done away with that and a student can be caught off guard in a hearing and swiftly found guilty.
The new regulations are currently in place while in his 2013 presidential campaign, Hassan Rouhani had repeatedly promised to end the police state dominating universities across Iran.
On April 29, 2019, the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) documented some cases of students at Iranian universities, historically hotbeds of political activism, being prosecuted for the content of their peaceful online postings.
Earlier on April 13, a university student Mojtaba Dadashi, 23, began serving a three-year prison sentence for sharing a video on social media criticizing the Islamic Republic as "un-Islamic."
Furthermore, three months earlier, on January 15, the disciplinary committee of the Babol Noshirvani University of Technology suspended an unknown number of students for one semester for posting personal photos from a family gathering on their Facebook pages, CHRI reported.