The Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) stands in solidarity with the Iranian people and calls for an immediate cessation of violent suppression of legitimate political grievances. For more than a month, Iranians have been bravely challenging the government’s authoritarian, patriarchal, and ethnocentric rule by organizing mass protests on streets and campuses.

CIES is deeply concerned by the brutal crackdown of the protests, mass incarcerations, and murders following the death of the 22 year-old Jina (Mahsa) Amini. Amini was arrested by Iran’s “morality police” in Tehran, for allegedly not wearing a hijab in accordance with government standards and later died while in police custody. Since then, people in Iran have staged multiple protests and political actions in public spaces, calling for Zan, Zendegi, Azadi (Women, Life, Freedom) – inspired by the original Kurdish feminist slogan Jin, Jiyan, Azadi. The severity of state violence has been particularly pronounced in government responses in regions with a large population of ethnic (Kurdish and Baluch) and religious (Sunni) minorities. As of November 4, 2022 and in the absence of accurate media coverage, at least 300 people have been killed in the protests by security forces as of October 17, 2022, with at least 27 children among those killed including Sarina Esmailzadeh (16 ), Asra Panahi (16), and Nika Shakarami (17).

Educators and students have played a critical role in these and previous popular protests in Iran. Iranian teachers – long active in Iran’s labor movement – have issued public statements and called for strikes to protest the deaths and arrests of students . Iran’s educational institutions, schools and universities, have been primary sites of protest, but also of surveillance, detention, and prosecution. A video of school children taking off their mandatory hijab while calling out and chasing a school administrator shows the courage and critical consciousness of a new generation of students who are fighting for their values and educating their educators. Some of these students have been beaten , while several of the students have been reported by school leaders to be admitted to “centers for re-education” . State security forces have also staged violent raids in schools, imperiling the safety and mental well-being of Iranian children. Universities, too, have seen coordinated state attacks on students, including those at Sharif University of Technology and Tehran University. Reports estimate that more than 170 college students have been arrested. In the past, student protestors have been identified and excluded from educational institutions; others, like Ali Younesi and Amirhossein Moradi, have been imprisoned without proper juridical processes on unjustified accounts of opposition.

In the face of widespread protests, the Iranian government has limited internet connectivity and access to various social media, including Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp. This censorship tactic both limits the ability to document and share the Iranian government’s violent suppression of the protests , and Iranian access to educational resources and global reach and mobility of students and faculty. Inside the country, Iranian students face prosecution if they fight for their rights, and they face extreme difficulties in obtaining a visa and crossing borders when they decide to study abroad.

CIES recognizes the importance of freedoms of speech, assembly, and mobility for all scholars and students across global borders. We recognize the importance of not limiting access to online educational resources and social media, whether by the Iranian government or other countries. We encourage educators, particularly those in higher education institutions, to bring awareness to the issue by discussing the subject in their classrooms and various educational forums and to identify necessary institutional support for their Iranian students and communities. Education, the bodily autonomy of women, and freedom of speech are basic human rights that should be valued and upheld in every society. We condemn the violent suppression of protesting students and faculty and echo the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in urging authorities in Iran to stop all violence against students at all levels. We recognize the courageous acts of resistance from young schoolchildren, university students, and ordinary Iranian citizens. We stand in solidarity with Iranians struggling against gender and sexuality-based violence and state discrimination along ethnic, religious, and political lines.

Additional Resources and Materials

We have collected sources and materials to serve as starting points for CIES members who would like to access up-to-date information and further reading, and encourage their institutions to take further action (particularly for CIES members affiliated with universities).

Woman. Life. Freedom-Resources on Protests in Iran
The Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies has aggregated a list of recent webinars, lectures, and  analyses of the protests and their underlying social and political conditions by leading scholars of Iranian Studies.   

Iran Feminist Protests: Transnational Connections and Solidarities ” (a panel organized by the Toronto Metropolitan University’s Nima Naghibi)

Figuring a Women’s Revolution: Bodies Interacting With their Images ” (an article by an Iranian artist in Iran, translated and published in “Jadaliyya,” Oct. 5, 2022)

“‘Woman, Life, Freedom’: The Origins of Iran’s Rallying Cry ” (“Le Monde,” Oct.10, 2022)

On ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ Movement in Iran and Call for Transnational Feminists Solidarity ” (an interview with an Iranian student activist in the United States with recommendations for educators)

News Sources:

UN Human Rights on Iran

Slingers Collective

Middle East Matters Social Media: Twitter and Instagram

Hengaw Organization for Human Rights

Iran Human Rights