Front Line Defenders (FLD) expresses its serious concern over the Iranian authorities’ recent crackdown on student rights defenders. Since the public protests began in December 2017 and January 2018, the Ministry of Intelligence and the Intelligence Protection Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have targeted students with long term prison sentences and restrictions on their rights to travel and political participation for no other reason than the exercise of their legitimate rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression.
According to FLD, multiple student human rights defenders from different universities in the cities of Tehran and Tabriz have received harsh sentences based on charges stemming from their participation in protests. A number of protests organised by Student Unions were held in January 2018, resulting in some 150 university students being arbitrarily detained by the Ministry of Intelligence and the Intelligence Protection Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. While most were later released, many have been charged.
Student Unions are a vital medium of expression for students and student societies as they amplify their voices by organising peaceful protests and raising student complaints with university officials. The protests in question were organised in relation to the privatisation of education and economic corruption affecting students.
FLD said it believes that the unfair sentences given to student rights activists is directly related to their work in the defence of human rights and sees this as part of a continued pattern of harassment against student rights defenders in Iran. Front Line urges the authorities in Iran to immediately release, drop all charges and quash the convictions against all student rights defenders as it is believed that this is solely motivated by their legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights.
It also want to lift the travel and political bans on student rights defenders as it is believed that these measures have been taken against them solely on account of their legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights. It further seeks to cease targeting all human rights defenders in Iran and guarantee in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.