The Start Of Something Bigger? Iranian Students Protest Against Suppression And Discrimination

For a second day in a row, hundreds of students at several major Iranian universities continued their protests against political suppression, gender discrimination, and higher tuition.

The protests started on Monday at Tehran University, Beheshti, Kharazmi, and Allameh Tabatabaei Universities in the capital and expanded to several other institutions on Tuesday.

They were hundreds of students protesting in each university.

Since 2009 protests against the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the presidential election, hundreds of politically active students have been harassed and arrested by security forces. Their publications have been systematically banned or censored, and some of the students have been even suspended or discharged from the university.

During his election campaign, President Hassan Rouhani had criticized the increasing pressure on students and promised to improve the situation. Students say the president has not fulfilled his promise yet.

(2/2)Students holding up signs, spelling out their demands during the December 5 protests on campuses.

On Monday, Students at Tehran university criticized the government for what they call a “monetization of universities and capitalization of social life” and demanded free education. They accused the ministry of science of conducting “business” and chanted “the loans have made us slaves of the banks.”

Public universities are generally tuition free but students who are admitted to night courses should pay for their education. The tuition for such courses have increased significantly in recent years. In addition to that, universities have started to charge even other students for various reasons, including dropped courses.

On Tuesday, at Qom university, 120 km south of Tehran, students protested gender segregation at a ceremony commemorating the Students Day and walked out of the venue chanting “students die, but do not accept discrimination”.

Iranian government has designated December 7 as Students Day to commemorate the death of three students who were killed in 1953 protesting a visit by the then U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon to Tehran. However, students use the occasion to stage anti-government rallies.


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