Since the disputed Iranian election of June the 12th 2009, several university campuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran have become the scene of violent attacks of pro-government militias against students. During these assaults many young people have been killed or wounded. Itís now impossible to keep a tally of the students who, because of simply participating in peaceful demonstrations of dissent against the Iranian authorities, have been suspended from their studies, expelled from universities, arrested, sometimes tortured, and frequently sentenced to many years of prison. Also, a number of Professors have been detained or otherwise intimidated.
On the last 4 January, 88 Professors of Tehran University wrote an open letter to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The letter demanded that: the ones who were responsible for the aforementioned attacks be punished; the students now detained be released; the campuses be respected and accordingly treated as places of study and research.
UNIVERSITY4IRAN is an initiative of international mobilization supporting these requests. By signing the following letter, Professors, Lecturers and Researchers from academic institutions across the world will be able to express solidarity with their Iranian colleagues, and to make the chief authorities of the Islamic Republic aware that international scholars will not sit by and abide with the current events in Iranian universities.
To His Excellency,
Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei,
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
We, the undersigned are an international group of researchers and university professors. We are writing to you, in order to add our voice to that of the 88 colleagues at the Faculty of Technology of the University of Tehran who have already expressed their concern to you no less than a few weeks ago. As researchers and teachers we share their apprehension for what has been taking place over the last few months in the universities of the Islamic Republic.
Some of the most prestigious universities in the country, whose excellent reputation is acknowledged well beyond Iranís frontiers, have been the scene of unacceptable episodes of violence against students as well as intimidation of teachers. From the assault on the Tehran University halls of residence last June 15th, during which many students were killed, to the knife and machete squadron attacks at the Islamic Azad University of Mashhad last December 30th, the months following the June 2009 elections have been characterized by episodes that have transformed centers of research and knowledge into centers of repression and violence. Also none of those responsible for these episodes have been either identified or reprimanded.
By contrast, thousands of students, simply for exerting their rights to demonstrate and peacefully express dissent (rights guaranteed by the constitution of the Islamic Republic) have been arrested, beaten, incarcerated and condemned to excessive sentences after trials where - according to numerous human rights organizations Ė their rights to legal defense was not respected. In many cases, it is also alleged that students have been submitted to ill-treatment and abuse while in prison.
We are turning to you, Your Excellency, because we consider you morally and politically responsible for what is happening in Iranian universities and to their students. Those young people are the hope of your great and worthy country, those universities are the places where you build the future of Iran.
As researchers and teachers we can only raise our voice and stand alongside our 88 colleagues from the University of Tehran and appeal to you:
1) to respect the neutrality and inviolability of university campuses,
2) to identify and send to trial those who are responsible for the episodes of violence against students;
3) to free the students who are currently being held in prison;
4) to respect the role of universities as centers of debate and discussion, allowing the free and peaceful exchange of opinions.
Your Excellency, you are in a position to hear our appeals. We are certain that you, as a Supreme Leader of the moral and spiritual affairs of the Republic, would be unwilling to deny the nation and its future generations this act of justice and this sign of hope.