Numerous University Professors Face Expulsions and Suspensions Ahead of Mahsa Amini Protests Anniversary

As the anniversary of the 2022 nationwide protests, known as the Mahsa Amini Protests, approaches, Iranian academic circles are witnessing increased pressure from security institutions. A rising number of university professors are being expelled or suspended under various justifications.

Currently, HRANA has documented 22 university professors who have been affected, facing expulsion or suspension.

The roster of professors targeted due to their perceived involvement in supporting last year’s protests is as follows:

  • Mohammad-Reza Nazari-Nejad-expelled
  • Raham Afghani-expelled
  • Ali Sharifi Zarchi-expelled
  • Dariush Rahmanian-expelled
  • Hamideh Khademi-expelled
  • Amaneh Ali-expelled
  • Mehdi Khoyi-expelled
  • Aziz Shafiee Zarghani-expelled
  • Baharak Akhtardanesh-expelled
  • Mohammad-Mehdi Olumi-expelled
  • Raheleh Ali-Moradzadeh-expelled
  • Vahid Eydgah-suspended
  • Javad Bashari-suspended
  • Milad Azimi-suspended
  • Leily Varahram-suspended
  • Ghasem Azizi-suspended
  • Hossein Mesbahian-suspended
  • Arash Bidollah Khani-suspended
  • Shirzad Azad-suspended
  • Azin Movahed-suspended
  • Mehdi Motie-suspended
  • Mohammad Soltani-suspended

Moreover, Safavardi, a former professor of political science at Islamic Azad University, revealed that nine professors have been compelled into early retirement due to reasons such as holding pro-Western opinions and expressing dissent against the Islamic Revolution. He did not, however, mention their names.

Just last month, Sharifi Zarchi, a faculty member at the Sharif University of Technology, exposed the covert infiltration of approximately 15,000 individuals purportedly “aligned with the government” into faculty boards. In protest against these actions targeting Iranian academics, Mohammad-Reza Aref, the head of the Union of University Professors (and a former Vice President of Iran), tendered his resignation.

Two days ago, the Ministry of Interior expressed approval of the Ministry of Science’s decision to dismiss university professors, asserting that this action aligns with legal, administrative criteria, and “the revolutionary duty to sustain the vibrancy of universities’ academic and cultural landscapes”, warranting appreciation. Furthermore, these professors were accused of “politicizing and exploiting their positions for political and partisan gains.”

It is crucial to note that the Iranian regime has a historical record of purging both students and professors, particularly in humanities and arts faculties, who express criticism towards the regime. In a report, Etemad Newspaper has identified 157 university professors who were expelled over the course of the last three administrations.

Background on the 2022 Nationwide Protests

The arrest of Mahsa Amini by Tehran Morality Police for her improper hijab and her suspicious death on September 16 sparked protests sweeping across Iran. Protesters came to the streets with the central slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” in protest against the performance, laws and structure of the regime. During the nationwide protests, thousands of people, including journalists, artists, lawyers, teachers, students and civil rights activists, were arrested.