On Sunday, October 2nd, several universities across the country organized protests and rallies against the government murder of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini. Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, one of Iran’s most high ranking universities, was amongst one of them. What began as a peaceful sit-in ended up in what eyewitnesses describe as a war zone.
Despite serious threats from student Basijis, the students of Sharif University commenced silent sit-ins on the university campus Sunday afternoon. Sources indicate a strong security presence from early moments in the day, including hostile verbal attacks of plainclothes forces towards participating students.
Just before sunset, the students begin a rally. As they begin chanting slogans against the government murder of Mahsa Amini, the environment intensifies and the outnumbered plainclothes officers begin to surround students and respond with chants against them.
The rally escalates into what has been likened to the July 1999 student protests in Iran known as “18th of Tir”, when plainclothes officers violently raided the university campus after a peaceful student demonstration, resulting in an estimated 15 deaths, several injuries, and between 1,000 to 1,500 arrests.
The first videos shared online show plainclothes forces barricading students inside the university campus and the arrival of multiple vans outside the campus premises. According to an eyewitness student report, plainclothes officers began arresting and attacking students with batons, intensifying tensions between the two groups.
Students witnessing the brutal arrests of their friends begin chanting louder when plainclothes officers begin shooting at students with paintballs and shot guns. This atmosphere of fear leads students to escape the premises, to which they discover they have are trapped. Students are unable to find an exit and reports arrive of security forces surrounding the university, awaiting the arrests of students.
The horrific videos circulating online are almost war-like with sounds of gun shots and screaming students trapped in a parking lot, trying to find an exit or hiding place underneath parked cars. Another video shows a half-naked student handcuffed with clothes over his head, sitting in between two officers on a motorcycle who are taking him away. Videos show students screaming and running with backpacks between a tear gas haze and sounds of a choir of horns from cars outside, hopelessly trying to rescue them.
The number of students arrested or injured is yet to be confirmed independently by Zamaneh, however, a student source claims that about 30 to 40 students have been arrested, their whereabouts unknown.
After the nationwide protests in response to the government killing of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, over 100 universities, including Sharif University of Technology have issued statements against the repressive security forces. Since the start of these protests, there has been maximum security presence on many university campuses.
The students at Sharif University of Technology joined a nationwide student strike, announcing that they will not attend classes until all students are released and all repressive security forces are expelled from the university premises.
In a letter written by a group of graduates at the Sharif University of Technology, they state:
Until now, more than 1000 university professors have declared support of the students’ collective call, some even cancelling classes or resigning in protest of the current conditions. Nonetheless, in consideration of the recent events, students in Iran are in great danger. Security forces including plainclothes officers and Basiji troops are well known for their treatment of students as seen in July 1999.