The Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies expresses its grief over the tragic death of Ms. Mahsa Zhina Amini, age 22, who died in police custody in Tehran on September 16 after having been arrested by the morality police. Following Ms. Amini’s wrongful death, massive protests against the imposition of compulsory hijab and calls for the abolition of the morality police have spread throughout the country. Mass arrests and the deaths of many protestors have resulted from brutal crackdowns by the security forces. We ask the government of Iran to respect the right of its own citizens to peaceful protests and to desist from violent suppression and persecution of demonstrators. We will do our best during the upcoming weeks to offer our platform to scholars for expressing their views and analyses as events unfold in Iran. We sincerely hope that the demands of protesters in Iran be heard by the Iranian government and that they be treated by the security forces with dignity and respect.
Please also read the Association for Iranian Studies Committee on Academic Freedom's statement in solidarity with the Iranian academics’ petition in response to the unfolding events in Iran, available online here: https://associationforiranianstudies.org/about-ais-caf/ais-caf-statements.
Association of Iranian Studies Committee for Academic Freedom (AIS-CAF) statement in solidarity with Iranian academics’ petition in response to the unfolding of events in Iran.
September 20, 2022
In solidarity with the Iranian academics’ petition in response to the unfolding events in Iran
We write on behalf of the Association of Iranian Studies (AIS) and its Committee for Academic Freedom (CAF) to express our solidarity with the Iranian academics who have courageously signed a petition in response to the unfolding events in Iran. The petition strongly condemns the death in custody of Ms. Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman – arrested by the “morality police” of the Islamic Republic of Iran enforcing a government-mandated ultraconservative Islamic dress code – and the brutal response by security forces to ensuing protests, including protests by university students. Ms. Amini’s murder in the hands of the Islamic Republic’s morality police on charges of breaking strict hijab rules is a clear example of the systemic and systematic oppression and exploitation of Iranian women over the past 43 years under the rule of the Islamic Republic.
AIS is a private, non-profit academic society founded in 1967 to support and promote scholarship and research on Iran and the Persianate world at the international level. An independent, non-partisan, non-political, and multidisciplinary international community, the association publishes Iranian Studies, the principal journal in the field. AIS membership includes over 500 scholars, students, and academic and professional researchers. We are committed to encouraging the free exchange of ideas and freedom of speech, both within and beyond the geographical boundaries of Iran. AIS’s CAF has been closely following the tragic news of Ms. Amini’s forceful detention, which led to her death, and the government’s violent crackdown on the protesters, which includes university students, across the country.
On September 13, Ms. Amini was traveling to Tehran to visit relatives. She was accompanied by her brother when she was detained by the “morality police” for failing to meet the country’s strict dress code for women. According to eyewitness reports, during her detention, Ms. Amini was beaten on the head several times and subsequently slipped into a coma at Vozara Detention Center. Her family was notified after she was transferred to Kasra Hospital without vital signs. In an official letter to Dr. Mohammad Raiszadeh, the Head of the Medical Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Hossein Karampour, who heads the Medical Council’s Bandar Abbas branch, also noted that Mahsa Amini’s symptoms were consistent with symptoms of concussion and internal bleeding as a result of blows to the head.
Shortly after Ms. Amini was pronounced dead on September 16, the police released a montage of closed-circuit footage from the police station, which shows the moment Ms. Amini collapsed, in order to argue that she had a pre-existing health condition. Over the past three days, government officials have tried to deny her murder by distorting the reality of her death and stating that she died of natural causes. Ms. Amini’s family have repeatedly denounced such claims and have stated that she was a perfectly healthy, 22-year-old woman with no preexisting health issues. On September 17, Ms. Amini’s body was transferred to her birthplace of Saghez, in the northwestern Kurdistan province where she was laid to rest.
Ms. Amini’s tragic murder has triggered a nationwide and international outcry against the violent treatment of women by the Islamic Republic’s morality police. Over the past few days, the peaceful protesters have chanted: “Woman, Life, Freedom” in streets of the capital and other major cities across the country. The slogan clearly manifests the public demand for the basic human rights of women that have been systematically denied and violated over the past four decades. In response to the peaceful protests, the security forces have opened fire on unarmed protesters and have so far killed at least four people in the Kurdistan province.
We add our voice to those of our colleagues in Iran in condemning this violence. We call on international human rights organizations to investigate the tragic death of Ms. Amini and the government’s violent suppression of protesters. We further call for probes into the illtreatment of Iranian women who, in recent months, have been the targets of a statewide crackdown on “improper” hijab, and have fallen victim through mass arrests and fines, forced confessions, imprisonment, torture, and now, extra-judicial killing.
The Association of Iranian Studies stands in solidarity with the petition signed by the Iranian academics, which stresses the right of Iranian women to freely choose their own dress code; calls for abolishing the morality police; and supports the protection of citizenship rights for all Iranians.
Please find AIS-CAF's statement in support of students at Sharif University of Technology endorsed by AIS and the Middle East Studies Association.
October 3, 2022
We write on behalf of the Association of Iranian Studies (AIS), its Committee for Academic Freedom (CAF), and the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) to condemn in strongest terms the assaults against a peaceful protest by students at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran on October 2nd, 2022. This violent crackdown on one of the top universities of the country was orchestrated and executed by the state security and plainclothes forces. We express our outrage and deep concern over the fate of injured and arrested students and professors who were shot by rubber bullets, detained, and taken to unknown locations.
AIS is a private, non-profit academic society founded in 1967 to support and promote scholarship and research on Iran and the Persianate world at the international level. An independent, non-partisan, non-political, and multidisciplinary international community, the association publishes Iranian Studies, the principal journal in the field. AIS membership includes over 500 scholars, students, and academic and professional researchers. We are committed to encouraging the free exchange of ideas and freedom of speech, both within and beyond the geographical boundaries of Iran. AIS’s CAF has been closely following the tragic news of the government’s violent crackdown on the protesters, including university students across the country. MESA was founded in 1966 to support scholarship and teaching on the
Middle East and North Africa. The preeminent organization in the field, the Association publishes the International Journal of Middle East Studies and has almost 2800 members worldwide. MESA is committed to ensuring academic freedom and freedom of expression, both within the region and in connection with the study of the region in North America and elsewhere.
The peaceful demonstration at Sharif University of Technology was organized in response to the state murder of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini on September 16, 2022, and in solidarity with the nationwide protests including demonstrations in over one hundred universities in the country. The state response to such basic civil rights was brutal: students became subject to hostile physical and verbal attacks by the security and plainclothes forces, some were shot by rubber bullets, and some have been arrested. In their statement, Sharif University students have called October 2nd, 2022 a “Ruz-e Khunin,” – “A Bloody Day” – and announced that they will not attend classes until all students are released and security forces are expelled from the university campuses. As we write this statement, over thirty universities are protesting, many students are arrested, more than six thousand university professors have issued a statement, and some university professors have canceled their classes in solidarity with the students.
The horrific videos on social media showing these attacks are testimonies to the volume of crimes committed against innocent students whose basic civil rights are violated by the state. The number of injuries and arrests remain unknown. However, these attacks may well resemble those against the Student Movement at the University of Tehran in July 1999, in which the university campus was violently raided resulting in death, injuries, and arrests of the students.
The violent crackdown on Sharif University of Technology on October 2nd, 2022, is just the latest example of targeted assaults on the institution of the university in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Since its inception, the state has constantly and systematically assaulted, physically and discursively, the institution of the university – its students and professors, independent knowledge and freedom of expression. This reaches from the so-called 1980s “cultural revolution” to the several waves of purging university professors, the unjust vetting admissions process for students, the failed agenda of so-called “Islamization of Humanities and Social Sciences,” the July 1999 violent attacks at the University of Tehran, and several other incidents over the past four decades.
The Association of Iranian Studies and the Middle East Studies Association expresses its grave concern over the violation of academic rights of university students and professors who are entitled to teach and learn with dignity in a free and safe academic environment. We condemn in strongest terms the attacks on university campuses, and register our outrage and dismay over systematic assaults on the institution of the university and the individuals who shape its community. More importantly, we are extremely worried about the safety of the injured and arrested university students and professors and demand their immediate release. We also call for a full and transparent investigation of these crimes.