Today, we commemorate the anniversary of a haunting event that scarred our academic community forever. After midnight, on July 9th, the “tragedy of the dormitory” unfolded, etching its horror into our collective memory. The militia forces stormed the sanctity of our dormitories, wielding batons, shockers, and pepper sprays. The place was once a hallowed ground for education and the pursuit of knowledge became a domain of absolute control for these marauders. Doors, once symbols of security, shattered; rooms, once safe havens for students’ dreams and aspirations, were engulfed in flames, and students some held at gunpoint were thrown down the windows and rooftops. In their final moments, the visage of the beasts responsible for this atrocity, chanting in rapture, reveling in the demise of some of the brightest minds within the Iranian scientific community, was imprinted in their anguished minds. The weight of this tragedy lingers, an emotional burden etched upon our hearts. We mourn for all those whose lives were unjustly extinguished and our spirits cry out for justice, fueled by the empathy that binds us as a society. May we never forget the price paid by the brave souls who dared to speak up, and may their memory keep the fervent resistance against such abhorrent acts of oppression alive.
Today also marks the 297th day since the dream once shared by the Iranian students in 1999, brought together many brave people from different backgrounds to fight against the tyranny of the same brutal gender apartheid regime in Iran. In a country where corruption, brutality, and lies prevail, shouting out the truth is the greatest form of defiance. Currently, Iranian protesting citizens are being executed based on coerced confessions at an astronomic rate! Meanwhile, the academic community in Iran is profoundly outraged by these instances of injustice. However, the universities in Iran are shrouded in a cloud of oppression that stifles the expression of intellectual voices within the academic community. Iranian students have broken the barrier of fear and called for the sovereignty of logic and equality in their country. However, the regime has responded with violence, and students are now paying the price for their bravery and conscientiousness. Brave Iranian schoolgirl students who were among the first to defy the hijab are deprived of their right to education through chemical gas attacks. In Iranian universities, the situation is no better, many students are imprisoned, and the rest are robbed of their right to safety and security in their learning environment. In Tehran, Intelligence forces are calling suspected protest participants to secluded private houses around the city for interrogation and forced confessions. To suppress even the most peaceful means of demonstration, eight medical students in Tabriz have recently been subjected to 1 to 2 years of academic suspension and exile to the cities of Ahvaz, Semnan, Kashan, Urmia, and Ardabil by the Central Committee of the Ministry of Health. Many students are facing the same charges and the same fate by the order of the Islamic Republic. On campuses, security forces and plain-clothed intelligence agents are freely roaming and raiding the campuses verbally and physically abusing students suspected of protest participation or defying the mandated oppressive Hijab. Moreover, In a grievous display of misconduct, the security personnel have engaged in the illicit practice of extorting money from students, regardless of their involvement in protests, in exchange for refraining from reporting them as participants in such activities. Students not involved in protests are also not safe as many are losing their opportunity to pursue their future careers due to an arbitrary criminal record based on their social media activity and the exercise of their right to freely express their opinions. The regime is banning these students from leaving the country, further increasing the price of speaking out the truth and supporting freedom in Iran.
As members of academia, we spend our lives seeking the truth and take pride in using it as a beacon to light our way in the darkness. In remembrance and acknowledgment of all those who lost their lives seeking freedom, we ask our colleagues and peers to first acknowledge the ongoing situation in Iran, discuss it, and find solutions. As the crisis intensifies, the scientific community needs to gather around, share opinions, and discuss roadmaps for the current situation by holding talks and panel discussions. Moreover, Universities are asked to uphold their mutual moral commitment to the hardworking devoted admitted students, stand by their prospective students, support them through procedures specific to each university, and raise awareness regarding the students being banned from their right to pursue higher education.
Lastly, this statement embodies the tireless dedication of Iranian students beyond the borders of their homeland to the revolution ignited by their counterparts in Iran and the commemoration of the lives lost through the ages seeking a brighter future for humanity. Our aspirations for the emancipation of our nation and seeking justice for the victims of the regime atrocities, find expression in the poignant words of Mahmoud Darwish, we do what prisoners do, and what the jobless do: we cultivate hope.
Woman, Life, Freedom,
Iranian Scholars for Liberty