Iran General NewsThe Role of Students and Universities in Iran’s Nationwide...

The Role of Students and Universities in Iran’s Nationwide Uprising


In the national uprising of the people of Iran, which started in mid-September this year, the students played a significant role in the continuation and promotion of the protests. Indeed, tyrannical regimes see universities and students as a challenge to their authority.

In 1953, hundreds of students sounded their protests against then-Shah Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi’s coup against Dr. Mohammad Mosadeq the sole democratic government in Iran’s history.

In response, Shah’s security forces opened fire at protesting students at Tehran University on December 7, killing three students and injuring more. Since then, students annually mark the day as National Student Day.

Due to its nature, the religious dictatorship fears the radicalization of the universities; Therefore, with all kinds of methods, from threatening and arresting to attacking universities it has tried to prevent the students to join the protests and taking the lead.

After the death of Mahsa Amini, killed by the regime’s morality police, protests by students began on September 18, 2022. The first gathering was formed with a mass sit-in by the students of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Tehran University. Finally, on September 29, universities in other cities joined the protests. So far, the number of protesting universities has reached 143 cities.

The methods of these protests were marches, gatherings, sit-ins, refusing to attend classrooms, and chanting slogans against the heads of the regime. Primarily slogans targeted the regime’s supreme leader, which was a significant change in the demands of the students, that is the overthrow of the regime.

Some of the main slogans are ‘death to the dictator’, ‘death to Khamenei’, ‘freedom, freedom, freedom’, and ‘death to the oppressor, be it the shah or the [supreme leader].

In these protests, many students were arrested by the security forces. Many were also banned from entering the university to prevent the expansion of protests. Despite the arrest and ban of students, these protests continued daily without interruption.

The student movement in Iran during the mullahs’ era has always gone through ups and downs. During the years after the attack on the Tehran University campus on July 9, 1999, part of the student movement faded away because of the heavy repressions. Many of the students were arrested and faced forced disappearance, and many of them were forced to leave the country.

At that time, to take control over the universities, the regime filled them with students from its paramilitary force the Basij.

In the scandalous regime’s presidential election of 2009, once again the students along with other strata took to the streets and joined the nationwide protests, which showed the regime’s failure to change the structure of the country’s universities in its own favor.

And in the November 2019 protests, the students were at the forefront of the protests. Now with the formation of nationwide protests, a new flow of student movements is formed.

Closing universities

On September 23, 2022, which is the beginning of the new school year in Iran the regime decided to close the universities.

Simultaneously with the spread of protests, all face-to-face classes at Tehran universities and other large universities were closed and replaced by virtual education. The regime’s excuse for the closure was ‘students’ traffic problems’ and ‘a 2-day holiday in the calendar.’

Closure of the University of Sistan and Baluchistan: After the clashes on September 30 in Zahedan, which became known as Black Friday of Zahedan, all classes of the University of Sistan and Baluchistan were closed until October 7.

Closure of Sharif University: Following the attack on Sharif University of Technology, all classes of this university were closed, and it was announced that they will be held virtually from October 3. With the continuation of protests in this university, on October 25, it was announced again that the classes of new incoming students will continue to be held virtually until further notice.

Closure of Kurdistan universities: By the order of the governor of Kurdistan, all universities in this province were closed on October 26. The regime’s excuse was an ‘influenza outbreak’. This day coincided with the 40th day of Mehsa Amini’s death.

Changing the disciplinary code of students

Simultaneously with the increase of student protests, the ‘Student Disciplinary Code of Conduct’ was changed in November 2022 and was notified to universities from November 22

This code included: Intensification of punishments related to the rules of covering and hijab, removal of the right to see the documents of the case by students, requiring permission for social groups of more than 100 people, making it legal to inform the family about the details of the case, changes in political violations and the intensification of their punishments were among the most important of these changes.

And concurrent with the change of the disciplinary code of students, the regime’s MP formulated a plan on November 22, so that, if approved, protesting students will be banned from traveling abroad for ten years.

Ban students from entering the university

Banning students from entering the university is one of the methods of suppressing the strike and protests, where several protesting students are widely prevented from entering the universities and they are called ‘banned’. This is a ruling that is issued without holding a disciplinary committee and without a legal background.

The Sharif University of Technology banned 80 students. 30 students at Shiraz University Faculty of Law and Political Science were banned from entering the university. 41 students at the University of Science and Technology in Tehran were banned from entering the university. 60 students at Isfahan University. Also, all theater and music students at Tehran University have been banned from entering their university.

Arrested Students

Due to the continuation of the protests and the regime’s arrests, there are still no accurate statistics about the arrested. According to human rights activists so far, from September 17 to December 2, 584 students were arrested.

Killed Students

During the protests many students very killed. There is no accurate number of those who were killed. The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) has published so far, the names of some of these students.

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