Two Iranian university professors have been suspended from their jobs after they came out in support of nationwide protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody.
Amir Maziar, a member of the Faculty of Theoretical Sciences at the Tehran University of Arts, published his suspension letter on February 7 and wrote that Kurosh Golnari, another member of the faculty of the same university, also received a similar letter.
Maziar added that some of his colleagues are under pressure to sign letters condemning the protesters, "which has happened at universities and other educational institutions as well."
According to Maziar, pressure on professors continues in other ways as well, including instances of forced retirement.
Anger over Amini's death on September 16 has prompted thousands of Iranians to take to the streets to demand more freedoms and women's rights.
Numerous protests have been held at universities, particularly in Tehran, where many students have refused to attend classes. Protesting students have chanted "woman, life, freedom" and "death to the dictator" at the rallies. Some female students have removed and burned their head scarves.
In recent months, the Tehran University of Arts has been a center of creative performances in support of the protests in Iran, including the erection of symbolic tombstones on the university campus in memory of protesters killed by the security forces, which has gone viral on social media.
In most of the protests, students have asked professors to support them, and some university professors and lecturers have expressed solidarity with the protesters.
Universities and students have long been at the forefront of the struggle for greater social and political freedoms in Iran. In 1999, students protested the closure of a reformist daily, prompting a brutal raid on the dorms of Tehran University that left one student dead.
Over the years, the authorities have arrested student activists and leaders, sentencing them to prison and banning them from studying.
The activist HRANA news agency said that, as of January 26, at least 700 university students had been arrested during the recent unrest.
Many have faced sentences such as imprisonment, flogging, and dozens of students have been expelled from universities or suspended from their studies, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.