On Sunday July 28, as more than a thousand university students met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Mostafa Dini, the secretary of the Islamic Association Tehran University, spoke critically about the security-laden atmosphere dominating the institutes of higher learning and the lack of any legal action against the “true perpetrators” of the attacks on Tehran University campus in 1999 and 2009.

Dini told Ayatollah Khamenei that while the two cases have been processed by the judiciary, the actual perpetrators who “violated the rights of the students and defiled the uniform of government service have not been identified to the public.”

In the course of the controversial presidential election of 2009 and the subsequent protests against the vote count, security and plainclothes forces invaded Tehran University. The attack led to five deaths and the beating of scores of students, with many more arrested and subjected to torture in the Ministry of the Interior building.

Ten years earlier, following student protests against the closure of the Salam daily, a similar attack was carried out at the Tehran University campus.

Dini told Ayatollah Khamenei at the Sunday meeting that the students’ insistence on pursuing the matter is not about vengeance but rather it’s an attempt to avoid “the repetition of such catastrophes.”

Dini also pointed to the barring of faculty members and students from universities, saying academic criteria in universities are being compromised by political considerations.

Dini stressed that creating an Islamic atmosphere in the universities requires the nurturing of “an atmosphere of critical thinking, examination, open thinking and theorizing.”

Dini criticized policies of gender and ethnic segregation at the universities, stressing that students should only be evaluated based on their “knowledge, insight and skills.”

He added that “ignoring the rights of half of the members of our society and arbitrary decision-making about the future of our youth is a blatant violation of the rights of women aiming to enter university.”

The recent policies of political cleansing of university faculties, gender segregation and the banning of students based on ethnic or political preferences have been consistently challenged by student groups and progressive organizations in Iran.