More than 150 professors and other academic staff at an Iranian university are calling on the authorities to allow banned students back to class, amid a fierce state crackdown on nationwide protests that have rocked the country for 2 ½ months.
The academic staff at Gilan University, in the northern city of Rasht, said in an open letter that they “insistently request” the authorities to cancel the academic suspensions “before the end of the current term."
Students have been at the forefront of nationwide protests sparked by the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police.
Security forces have raided university campuses and dormitories to identify and arrest the protesting students amid a bloody state crackdown on the protest movement demanding more freedoms and women's rights. Other students have been banned from entering their universities.
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 brutal crackdown by security forces on the protests -- the biggest challenge to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution – has claimed the lives of more than 440 people, including dozens of children. At least 18,000 others have reportedly been detained.