Iran university suspends classes as Mahsa Amini protests enter third week

Demonstrators are venting anger over treatment of women and wider repression in Iran

Iranian riot police clash with university students

FILE PHOTO: A photo of Mahsa Amini is pictured at a condolence meeting organised by students and activists from Delhi University in support of anti-regime protests in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, in New Delhi, India, September 26, 2022.  REUTERS / Anushree Fadnavis / File Photo
Powered by automated translation

Classes were on Monday suspended and moved online at Iran's leading scientific university after clashes erupted overnight between students and security forces on a Tehran campus, local media said.

"Sharif University of Technology announced that due to recent events and the need to protect students ... all classes will be held virtually from Monday," Mehr news agency reported.

Universities have been a focal point of more than two weeks of nationwide protests sparked by the death of young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, in police custody.

Iran International, a London-based opposition media outlet, published footage on Monday of what it said showed citizens gathering outside the Sharif University to demand the release of students surrounded by security forces inside the campus.

It obtained another video showing what it claimed were several Sharif University students being arrested by plainclothes officers and transferred to white vans on Sunday night.

The National could not independently verify the videos.

Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to protest over the death of Amini after her arrest by morality police in Tehran for allegedly not adhering to Iran’s strict Islamic dress code.

Her family allege she was beaten in custody, while officials claim she died of a heart attack.

Amini was an Iranian Kurd and the protests first erupted in areas with a large Iranian-Kurdish population before spreading to cities across the country.

The protesters have voiced anger over the treatment of women and wider repression in Iran.

The demonstrations rapidly escalated into calls for the overthrow of the clerical establishment that has ruled Iran since its 1979 Islamic revolution.

Explainer: what sparked Iran's new wave of protests?

Explainer: what sparked Iran's new wave of protests?

Nationwide unrest enters third week

Posts on social media showed there were scattered anti-government protests in Tehran and running clashes with security forces in other towns ion Sunday, even as the government has moved to block, partly or entirely, internet connectivity in Iran.

On Saturday, protests continued in several neighbourhoods and witnesses told the Associated Press they saw many girls waving their headscarves above their heads in a gesture of defiance.

A protester near the University of Tehran, 19-year-old Fatemeh, who gave only her first name for fear of repercussions, said she had joined the demonstration “to stop this behaviour by police against younger people, especially girls”.

Abdolali, a teacher, 63, who also declined to give his last name, said he was shot twice in the foot by police.

“I am here to accompany and support my daughter,” he told AP. "I once participated in the 1979 Islamic Revolution that promised justice and freedom; it is time to materialise them."

An additional 41 people died in clashes on Friday in Iran's far south-east, an area bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan, AFP quoted the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group as saying, citing local sources.

Those protests were sparked by accusations that a police chief in the region had raped a teenage girl of the Baluch Sunni minority, it said.

The rights group said at least 92 people have been killed since the start of the protests last month.

Meanwhile, Iran’s parliamentary speaker said on Sunday that the protests were aimed at toppling the government.

Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf told politicians that the current rallies were unlike past demonstrations, such as by teachers and retirees seeking more money.

“The important point of the [past] protests was that they were reform-seeking and not aimed at overthrowing” the system, Mr Qalibaf said in statements reported by Iranian media.

“I ask all who have any [reasons to] protest not to allow their protest to turn into destabilising and toppling” institutions, he said.

He urged security forces to deal harshly with those he claimed were endangering public order in Iran.

The Iranian authorities claimed foreign-based opposition groups were fomenting protests aimed at tearing down the system.

But they have not presented evidence for their allegations of foreign involvement.

People demonstrated in London, Rome, Madrid and other western cities in solidarity with Iranian protesters, holding pictures of Amini.

Updated: June 13, 2023, 8:10 AM