Friday , 19 July 2024

Iranian Court Overrules Academic Purge, Reinstates Med School Professors

RFL/RE – Iran’s Court of Administrative Justice has ordered the reinstatement of nearly 40 faculty members of the Tehran University of Medical Sciences who had been either dismissed or pressured into retirement in recent years, a professor at the university said on March 25.

Reza Malekzadeh told Tehran-based Jamaran News that the academics have successfully contested their removal or enforced retirement — part of what appears to be a broader clampdown on members of Iranian academia.

Malekzadeh lamented the loss of experienced staff and mentioned a state of “despair among the youth” and a notable decline in the global ranking of the Tehran University of Medical Sciences.

The clampdown on academia, which began to gain momentum under President Ebrahim Raisi, intensified in the aftermath of the widespread protests triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody in September 2022.

The precise number of academics affected is not known, but it is believed to be significant. Despite government denials of any political motives, numerous professors have voiced concerns that their dismissals were politically motivated, and part of a “cleansing” of universities.

The clampdown and the subsequent deterioration of the quality of university education appears to have prompted a mass exodus of medical professionals, which Malekzadeh said is being driven by “despair.”

Iran has witnessed the departure of approximately 16,000 doctors since 2020, fueled by an economic downturn, challenging working conditions, and constrained social and political freedoms, raising alarm over an impending public health-care crisis.

A report by the Etemad newspaper in September listed 52 professors ousted from Iranian universities since Raisi’s tenure began in 2021, highlighting an intensification of faculty dismissals following the Women, Life, Freedom protests.

Mohammad Reiszadeh, the head of Iran’s Medical System Organization, has described the departure of thousands of health professionals as a “serious crisis” for Iran’s health-care sector.

For decades, Iran’s universities have been at the center of the calls for reform.

In 1999, student demonstrations against the closure of a reformist newspaper were met with a violent raid on Tehran University dormitories, resulting in the death of a student.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda