Increased Pressure on University Professors; Identification of 95 Professors Barred from Teaching

HRANA News Agency – Universities in Iran have witnessed significant changes in higher education policies. Since January 2022, a considerable number of university professors in various cities have been removed from teaching. HRANA has so far identified 95 of these professors who, during this period, have faced dismissal, suspension, non-renewal of contracts, and forced retirement. Additionally, reports have emerged about the removal of tens of thousands of part-time university professors from the Islamic Azad University and several other university professors, whose identities are currently under investigation by HRANA.

According to reports collected by HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists (in Iran), January/February 2022 to the present, the country’s universities have witnessed the dismissal, suspension, non-renewal of contracts, and forced retirement of a large number of their faculty members.

This report, examining the situation of university professors in various Iranian cities, confirms that at least 95 university professors have so far been deprived of their teaching activities for reasons including dismissal, suspension, non-renewal of contracts, and forced retirement. These events, some of which may be due to support for the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests, indicate the increasing pressure being placed on the academic community in Iran.

Furthermore, reports have been received about the elimination of tens of thousands of part-time professors from the Islamic Azad University and several other university professors. These actions, whose exact identities are still under review, in addition to having direct effects on the professional lives of the professors, could have serious consequences on the quality of higher education and the scientific atmosphere of the country.

This wave of changes not only rings alarm bells for academic independence and freedom of expression in university environments but also calls for immediate attention and action by the international community. This report aims to expose these events, paving the way for further investigations and more effective actions in support of the rights of Iranian professors and students.

Below is a list of the names of professors who have been barred from teaching in the past two years, and whose identities have been verified.

1- Professor’s name: Mersedeh Eslami – Educational institution: Ferdowsi University of Mashhad
2- Professor’s name: Mohsen Khalili – Educational institution: Ferdowsi University of Mashhad
3- Professor’s name: Shahram Abbasi – Educational institution: Ferdowsi University of Mashhad
4- Professor’s name: Mehdi Kalahi – Educational institution: Ferdowsi University of Mashhad
5- Professor’s name: Alireza Azad – Educational institution: Ferdowsi University of Mashhad
6- Professor’s name: Mahshid Gohari – Educational institution: Ferdowsi University of Mashhad
7- Professor’s name: Arash Bidollahkhani – Educational institution: Ferdowsi University of Mashhad
8- Professor’s name: Shirzad Azad – Educational institution: Ferdowsi University of Mashhad
9- Professor’s name: Reza Omidi – Educational institution: University of Tehran
10- Professor’s name: Arash Raeisinejad – Educational institution: University of Tehran
11- Professor’s name: Hossein Alaee – Educational institution: University of Tehran
12- Professor’s name: Maham Miqani – Educational institution: University of Tehran
13- Professor’s name: Mohsen Baraheni – Educational institution: University of Tehran
14- Professor’s name: Dariush Rahmanian – Educational institution: University of Tehran
15- Professor’s name: Vahid Eidgah – Educational institution: University of Tehran
16- Professor’s name: Javad Bashari – Educational institution: University of Tehran
17- Professor’s name: Milad Azimi – Educational institution: University of Tehran
18- Professor’s name: Lili Azimi – Educational institution: University of Tehran
19- Professor’s name: Ghasem Azizi – Educational institution: University of Tehran
20- Professor’s name: Hossein Mosbahian – Educational institution: University of Tehran
21- Professor’s name: Azin Movahed – Educational institution: University of Tehran
22- Professor’s name: Seyed Reza Salehi Amiri – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Tehran
23- Professor’s name: Susan Safavardi – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Tehran
24- Professor’s name: Ali Akbar Amini – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Tehran
25- Professor’s name: Alireza Radmehr – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Tehran
26- Professor’s name: Hossein Tafazoli – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Tehran
27- Professor’s name: Dee Dokht Sadeghi – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Tehran
28- Professor’s name: Mohammad Ali Khosravi – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Tehran
29- Professor’s name: Bijan Nayeri – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Tehran
30- Professor’s name: [First name unknown] Sajedi – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Tehran
31- Professor’s name: Farshid Norouzi Roshanavand – Educational institution: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Mazandaran
32- Professor’s name: Hamid Behrami Zadeh – Educational institution: Allameh Tabataba’i University
33- Professor’s name: Zahra Noei – Educational institution: Allameh Tabataba’i University
34- Professor’s name: Elham Tavakoli – Educational institution: Allameh Tabataba’i University
35- Professor’s name: Ali Ahmadi – Educational institution: Allameh Tabataba’i University
36- Professor’s name: Mehdi Khoie – Educational institution: Allameh Tabataba’i University
37- Professor’s name: Mina Matlab Nejad – Educational institution: Babol University of Medical Sciences
38- Professor’s name: Hasan Taheri – Educational institution: Babol University of Medical Sciences
39- Professor’s name: Mohsen Shahlaei – Educational institution: Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences
40- Professor’s name: Mehdi Shahabi – Educational institution: Tehran University of Medical Sciences
41- Professor’s name: Shahriar Nafisi – Educational institution: Tehran University of Medical Sciences
42- Professor’s name: Hasan Razmi – Educational institution: Tehran University of Medical Sciences
43- Professor’s name: Hossein Heidar – Educational institution: Tehran University of Medical Sciences
44- Professor’s name: Mohammad Saeed Sheikh Rezaei – Educational institution: Tehran University of Medical Sciences
45- Professor’s name: Ahmad Soodagar – Educational institution: Tehran University of Medical Sciences
46- Professor’s name: Mohammad Sadegh Ahmad Akhoundi – Educational institution: Tehran University of Medical Sciences
47- Professor’s name: Amirreza Rokn – Educational institution: Tehran University of Medical Sciences
48- Professor’s name: Mohammad Bayat – Educational institution: Tehran University of Medical Sciences
49- Professor’s name: Karamollah Toolabi – Educational institution: Tehran University of Medical Sciences
50- Professor’s name: Zahra Ahmadi Nejad – Educational institution: Tehran University of Medical Sciences
51- Professor’s name: Mohammadreza Motamed – Educational institution: Iran University of Medical Sciences
52- Professor’s name: Morteza Kolahdooz – Educational institution: Iran University of Medical Sciences
53- Professor’s name: Mohammad Rouhani – Educational institution: Iran University of Medical Sciences
54- Professor’s name: Rahleh Alimoradzadeh – Educational institution: Iran University of Medical Sciences
55- Professor’s name: Mohammadreza Abazari – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Qom
56- Professor’s name: Maqsoud Ranjbar – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Qom
57- Professor’s name: Hamed Forouzani – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Qom
58- Professor’s name: Nayeresadat Mobinipour – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Qom
59- Professor’s name: Farzaneh Vahed Dehkordi – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Qom
60- Professor’s name: Nader Haghighi – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Qom
61- Professor’s name: Mohammad Ali Ranjkesh – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Qom
62- Professor’s name: Mohammad Dakhili – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Qom
63- Professor’s name: Majid Zargham – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Qom
64- Professor’s name: Shahram Kiaei – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Qom
65- Professor’s name: Bijan Ghonchepour – Educational institution: Tehran University of Art
66- Professor’s name: Rasoul Akbarlou – Educational institution: Tehran University of Art
67- Professor’s name: Pouya Arianpour – Educational institution: Tehran University of Art
68- Professor’s name: Hamid Shans – Educational institution: Tehran University of Art
69- Professor’s name: Mohammad Hossein – Educational institution: Tehran University of Art
70- Professor’s name: Iman Emad – Educational institution: Tehran University of Art
71- Professor’s name: Masoud Alia – Educational institution: Tehran University of Art
72- Professor’s name: Amir Maziar – Educational institution: Tehran University of Art
73- Professor’s name: Arman Zakeri – Educational institution: Tarbiat Modares University
74- Professor’s name: Somayeh Simet – Educational institution: Tarbiat Modares University
75- Professor’s name: Navid Barzenje – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Parand in Tehran
76- Professor’s name: Ahmad Shakarchi – Educational institution: Shahid Beheshti University
77- Professor’s name: Mostafa Azarkhshi – Educational institution: Shahid Beheshti University
78- Professor’s name: Mohammad Ragheb – Educational institution: Shahid Beheshti University
79- Professor’s name: Ameneh Aali – Educational institution: Shahid Beheshti University
80- Professor’s name: Hamideh Khademi – Educational institution: Shahid Beheshti University
81- Professor’s name: Pantea Vaeznia – Educational institution: Alzahra University
82- Professor’s name: Neda Toulai – Educational institution: Alzahra University
83- Professor’s name: Reham Afghani – Educational institution: Sharif University of Technology
84- Professor’s name: Ali Sharifi Zarchi – Educational institution: Sharif University of Technology
85- Professor’s name: Shamsi Abbas Alizadeh – Educational institution: Tabriz University of Medical Sciences
86- Professor’s name: Keyhan Soleimannejad – Educational institution: Islamic Azad University of Salmas
87- Professor’s name: Behrouz Chaman Ara – Educational institution: University of Kurdistan
88- Professor’s name: Armita Seraj Zahedi – Educational institution: Iran University of Science and Technology
89- Professor’s name: Mohammad Saadati – Educational institution: University of Birjand
90- Professor’s name: Mohammadreza Nazarinejad – Educational institution: University of Gilan
91- Professor’s name: Aziz Nazarinejad – Educational institution: University of Shiraz
92- Professor’s name: Baharak Akhtardanesh – Educational institution: Bahonar University of Kerman
93- Professor’s name: Mohammad Mehdi Oloumi – Educational institution: Bahonar University of Kerman
94- Professor’s name: Mehdi Motiee – Educational institution: Faculty of Theology and Islamic Studies, University of Isfahan
95- Professor’s name: Mohammad Soltani – Educational institution: Faculty of Theology and Islamic Studies, University of Isfahan

Among the professors listed, Navid Barzenje, who held a Ph.D. in Art Philosophy and was a former professor at the Islamic Azad University of Parand in Tehran, committed suicide and died in Dey of this year (Dec 22 – Jan 20) after being dismissed from the university. To better understand the number of professors who have been barred from teaching at various universities, see the statistical chart below, which represents the statistics of education deprivation by institution.

Recent reports published by official Iranian media indicate that the Islamic Azad University has seen a widespread removal of part-time professors from its faculty. Etemad newspaper reported in the current month of Aban that in just twenty days, more than 32,000 part-time professors had been removed from their positions at this university, which has prompted widespread reactions. These actions have been taken in the wake of last year’s protests and amidst a backdrop of political and social tensions. The Ministry of Interior of Iran has accused the dismissed professors of “politicization,” while the Ministry of Science has attributed the dismissal of some of these individuals to “negative responses from inquiries to security institutions and bodies.” Analyses suggest that criticisms and protests against government policies could be among the main reasons for these dismissals.

Reactions to the widespread dismissal of professors extend beyond public opinion and the media to include officials, institutions, and the academic community. Various organizations and entities, including the Iranian Writers’ Association, student syndicates, and university professors’ syndicates, as well as prominent political figures, have condemned these actions and interpreted them as a sign of the intensification of a repressive atmosphere in universities. HRANA news agency, on the eve of the anniversary of the nationwide protests of 1401, had also drawn attention to the increasing pressures on the academic community in Iran by publishing a statistical report.

These reports and reactions raise deep concerns about the trend of dismissal and suspension of university professors in Iran and re-emphasize the importance of supporting academic freedoms and expression in university environments. These events, which have a significant impact on the country’s academic community, necessitate immediate attention and action by the international community to support educational standards and human rights in Iran.

 


For more information please contact Skylar Thompson, Director of Global Advocacy and Accountability at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) skylar[at]hramail.com


 

Student Samaneh Asghari Receives One-Year Prison Sentence on Appeal

The Court of Appeal in Tehran has issued a one-year prison sentence for Samaneh Asghari, a student at Kharazmi University.

In a verdict dated February 10, 2024, Branch 36 of the Tehran Court of Appeal upheld Asghari’s one-year sentence. The initial verdict was issued by Branch 29 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court.

Asghari was detained by security forces at her residence in Tehran on September 14, 2023, and subsequently released on bail from Qarchak Prison in Varamin on October 4, 2023.

It is worth noting that Asghari had previously faced detention in connection with nationwide protests in October 2022, leading to an initial sentence of 18 years and three months. However, she was granted a pardon under the general pardon and commutation directive, resulting in her release from Qarchak Prison in April of the current year.

University Student Hamoon Soleimani Taken into Custody

On January 30, 2024, Hamoon Soleimani, a Master’s student at the University of Science and Technology, was apprehended during his appearance at Evin Courthouse.

Homayoun Soleimani, confirming his brother’s detention, revealed, “Hamoon was summoned to Evin Courthouse and subsequently held in custody. Approximately one hour after his apprehension, he managed to make a phone call, notifying our family of his relocation to Ward 1 of Evin Prison.”

As of now, the specific grounds for Soleimani’s arrest and the charges against him remain undisclosed.

Student Parastoo Faridi Arrested in Tabriz

On November 4, 2023, Parastoo Faridi, a student at the University of Tabriz, was apprehended by security forces and subsequently taken to an undisclosed location.

Faridi was detained at her father’s residence in Tabriz. During the apprehension, intelligence agents conducted a search of their home and seized some of her personal belongings.

Parastoo Faridi is pursuing her studies in industrial engineering at the University of Tabriz.

Students Hasti Amiri and Zia Nabavi Sentenced to One Year in Prison Upheld by Tehran Court of Appeal

The Tehran Court of Appeal upheld a one-year sentence against Hasti Amiri and Zia Nabavi, students at Allameh Tabataba’i University.

Initially, the Tehran Revolutionary Court, with Judge Iman Afshari presiding, had handed down the one-year sentences to both students on charges of “spreading propaganda against the regime.” This decision has now been confirmed by Branch 36 of the Tehran Court of Appeal.

The legal action against Amiri and Nabavi stems from their participation in protests against a series of poison attacks targeting schoolgirls across Iran.

Furthermore, during a protest assembly at Allameh Tabataba’i University on December 7, 2022, more than 30 students were barred from entering the university premises and subsequently faced disciplinary measures. Consequently, The Student Basij of the university sought the involvement of security institutions and the initiation of legal proceedings against Amiri and Nabavi.

Both of these students have a documented history of arrests and convictions due to their involvement in various activist initiatives.

 

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Student Mohammad Navid Badami Sentenced to Prison and Flogging

The Tehran Revolutionary Court has handed down a sentence of one year in prison and 74 lashes to Mohammad Navid Badami, a student at Shahid Beheshti University, with seven months of the prison term being suspended.

Presiding over the court, Judge Ali Mazloum found Badami guilty of “disturbing public order.”

On May 20, 2023, Badami was apprehended by security forces during a student gathering protesting the death sentences issued against three defendants in a case known as “Khaneh e Isfahan (Isfahan House).” He was subsequently released on bail on June 12, 2023.

It is crucial to note that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prohibits flogging as a form of cruel and inhumane punishment.

University Student Farhad Hosseini Arrested in Zanjan

On September 19, Farhad Hosseini, a student at the University of Zanjan, was apprehended within the city and subsequently transported to an undisclosed location.

A source with close ties to Hosseini’s family shared with HRANA that they remain unaware of the exact location where he is being held, causing significant concern. Furthermore, his personal social media profiles have been removed.

The grounds for Hosseini’s arrest and the specific allegations against him remain shrouded in uncertainty at this point.

It’s worth noting that Farhad Hosseini is an Azerbaijani (Turk) activist currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Management at the University of Zanjan.

Students Hasti Amiri and Zia Nabavi Each Sentenced to One-Year Prison Terms

Tehran, August 9, 2023: In a recent development, Hasti Amiri and Zia Nabavi, both students at Allameh Tabataba’i University, have been each handed a one-year prison sentence by the Tehran Revolutionary Court, as reported by Emtedad News.

Presiding Judge Iman Afshari conveyed the verdict to the students, indicating that they have been found guilty of “propaganda against the regime.” This decision was reached during a court session held on July 10, 2023.

The legal action against Amiri and Nabavi stems from their participation in protests against a series of poison attacks targeting schoolgirls across Iran.

Furthermore, during a protest assembly at Allameh Tabataba’i University on December 7, 2022, more than 30 students were barred from entering the university premises and subsequently faced disciplinary measures. As a consequence, The Student Basij of the university sought the involvement of security institutions and the initiation of legal proceedings against Amiri and Nabavi.

Both of these students have a documented history of arrests and convictions due to their involvement in various activist initiatives.

Between late November 2022 and March 7, 2023, at least 290 schools, primarily girls’ schools, were targeted by poison attacks using an unspecified toxic gas, affecting at least 7,068 students in 103 schools. For further details and statistics, please refer to the HRANA report.”

Sepideh Rashnu Faces Arraignment at Evin Courthouse

Sepideh Rashnu, a student who has been vocal about her opposition to compulsory hijab, was arraigned at Evin Courthouse and subsequently released on bail.

Rashnu faces charges of “provoking promiscuity and engaging in propaganda against the regime.” Following her arraignment, she was briefly held in Ward 209 of Evin Prison before being released upon posting a one-billion bail. However, she is now prohibited from leaving Tehran.

Speaking about the accusations, Rashnu clarified, “Merely sharing a few photos of myself without a headscarf on my personal page does not justify their claims of promoting promiscuity and immodesty. Nor does it imply an association with everyone I follow on social media.”

This is not the first instance where Rashnu has encountered legal troubles due to her refusal to comply with hijab rules. She had previously received a two-semester suspension from the university. Furthermore, on July 16, she was arrested by security forces following an altercation on a city bus, during which she was harassed and physically assaulted by a woman who deemed her hijab improper.

Three Student Activists Indicted for Protesting Poison Attacks on Schools

On April 24, 2023, three students from Allameh Tabataba’i University – Hasti Amiri, Fereshteh Toosi, and Zia Nabavi – were indicted in Evin Court House for protesting against serial poison attacks on schools.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Didban News, students Hasti Amiri, Fereshteh Toosi and Zia Nabavi face new legal cases for “propaganda against the regime.” The court has ordered a bond for their pre-trial release.

The students are being prosecuted for protesting against the serial poisoner attacks on schools and the mistreatment of students by university security staff.

On March 7, 2023, over thirty students of Allameh Tabataba’i University were banned from entering the campus and are facing disciplinary action. At the time, the Student Basij unit issued a statement calling for disciplinary punishments against the three indicted students.

This is not the first time these activists have faced legal action for their activism. Fereshteh Toosi and Zia Nabavi have been arrested and prosecuted before, and Hasti Amiri was imprisoned in Evin Prison from July 31, 2022, to February 7, 2023, serving a one-year sentence.