Iranian armed forces arrested dozens of protesting university students in a mainly Kurdish city last week, amid a hardening of the authorities' response to nationwide demonstrations.
Security and intelligence agencies raided a dormitory of the University of Razi in the western city of Kermanshah, and beat up students before taking them away, sources told IranWire on November 22.
"Security forces, accompanied by university guards, entered the Ashrafi dormitory on the evening of November 14. Students were beaten, their phones were taken, and they were handcuffed and taken to security vehicles outside the university," one source said.
"Our estimate was that around 70 to 80 students were arrested, but a university staff said that a list of 120 arrested students had been given to the education department of the university," the source added.
Footage showed the armed agents forcing blindfolded students to sing a song praising Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
No information was available about the whereabouts of those arrested. Students at the university have staged protests and sit-ins demanding their release.
Students have been at the forefront of protests sparked by the September death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of Tehran’s morality police. She had been arrested for allegedly breaching the Islamic republic's strict dress code for women.
In defiance of authorities' warnings, many students have refused to attend classes. They are demanding the unconditional release of all arrested students, the prohibition of arrest warrants for the released students, the lifting of recent academic suspensions and the withdrawal of the security forces from campuses.
Social media footage showed male and female students on campuses across Iran eating together, often outside the gender-segregated dining halls that were closed after students tore down the walls dividing men and women.
The widespread demonstrations -- the biggest challenge to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution -- have been met with a brutal crackdown by security forces.
At least 378 people have been killed, including 47 children, according to one human rights organization. Thousands of people have been arrested and five of them have so far been sentenced to death.
A spokesperson for UN human rights chief Volker Turk on November 22 described the situation in Iran as "critical," citing “the rising number of deaths from protests” and “the hardening of the response by security forces.”
Speaking at a Geneva press briefing, spokesperson Jeremy Lawrence voiced particular concern about the situation in mainly Kurdish cities, where the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has reports of over 40 people killed by security forces over the past week.