Students and higher education personnel in Iran continue to face routine and pervasive violations of their rights on the basis of their opinions, gender, religion and ethnicity. The Network for Education and Academic Rights, an independent non-governmental organization that monitors academic freedom, documented at least 92 violations of academic rights in Iran in 2011. According to the largest independent student organization in Iran, Daftar-e Tahkim Vahdat, between March 2009 and February 2012, there were at least 396 cases of students banned from further study by the Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology as a result of their peaceful political or other dissent. Additionally, at least 634 students were arrested by security and intelligence organs and 254 students convicted for similar reasons, with the correlated impact on their ability to continue their education. The Ministry of Science, Technology, and Research declared Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat an “illegal” union in 2009, on grounds that it “engaged in activities that endangered national security.”
The Iranian authorities have threatened, suspended, arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced student activists for peaceful criticism of government policies on a regular basis. Officials also have routinely shut down hundreds of student gatherings, publications, and independent organizations. More than 30 students are currently serving long prison sentences in Iran solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly by expressing their opinions, participating in demonstrations, or membership of an independent student organization critical of government policies. Combined, these students have been sentenced to more than 130 years in prison, in some cases up to 15 years.