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Source: RFE/RL

Mar 5, 2024

Activists Say Iranian Students Remain Under Pressure In Clampdown On Dissent

Student activists say Iran's judiciary has escalated its crackdown against dissent on campus after a student was summoned to commence a 15-year prison sentence, while another faces fresh charges, according to reports from human rights organizations.

Khabat Vaisi, a student at Payame Noor University in Marivan, was transferred to the western city's central prison to serve his term after being convicted by the Marivan Islamic Revolutionary Court of "propaganda against the system" and membership in the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran.

These charges followed his arrest and interrogation in late 2022.Separately, Sheida Saberi, a student at the University of Shiraz, was indicted on charges including disturbing public order and peace, illegal assembly, and propaganda against the Islamic republic.

She posted an image on Instagram of the charges handed down by the seventh branch of the Public and Revolutionary Court of Yasuj against her.

Saberi was detained in September 2022 after she stood in the Haft-e Tir Square in Yasuj and cut her hair off as part of the Women, Freedom, Life protests that erupted across Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody for an alleged hijab infraction.

Student activists have highlighted the increasingly oppressive atmosphere within Iranian universities since the start of the new academic year.

This includes widespread summonses issued by intelligence and security agencies, disciplinary actions, temporary suspensions, and even expulsions of students and faculty members.

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 newspaper, 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.

The activist HRANA news agency says at least 700 university students have been arrested during the nationwide protests sparked by the September 2022 death of the 22-year-old Amini.

Many have faced sentences such as imprisonment and flogging, and dozens of students have been expelled from universities or suspended from their studies, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.

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

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