Statement of the Max Planck Society on the brutal repression of protests in Iran

The Max Planck Society strongly condemns the violence against students, university staff, and other peaceful protesters in Iran

November 02, 2022

The Max Planck Society expresses its solidarity with the students and scientists in Iran in their desire for more freedom and equal rights. It condemns the brutal actions of the security forces in the strongest possible terms and demands the immediate release of all those arrested in the course of the protests.

For seven weeks now, people across all generations and social backgrounds have been protesting in the Islamic Republic of Iran for protecting Iranian women’s rights. The nationwide demonstrations were ignited by the death of Mahsa Amini on 16 September 2022 in the custody of the country's morality police. The 22-year-old had been arrested and detained for allegedly wearing her headscarf incorrectly. Activists accuse the security forces of mistreating the young woman. The Iranian state's repressive acts are mainly directed against women, who are subject to a strict dress code and other restrictions on participation in public life.

The protests have since been joined mainly by students, but also by academics at many universities throughout the country. They are being suppressed by the Iranian security forces with extreme violence. According to press reports, protests and rallies have been reported from at least twenty cities and more than fifty universities in the past few days. We read disturbing details of how brutal the crackdown is on protesters, as well as large numbers of injuries, arrests, and deaths. Universities are being sealed off, the internet in Iran has been shut down.

"With this, the regime is robbing the citizens of Iran of their voice," one of our Iranian staff members wrote to us. She has asked the Max Planck Society to help be the voice of the Iranian people. We hereby demand the immediate release of all pupils, students, and other faculty members arrested in the course of the protests and their protection from further attacks and arrests. Civil liberties are a valuable asset worthy of protection. Freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of science are also prerequisites for successful international scientific cooperation and scientific dialogue. The Iranian regime is restricting all these rights in an unacceptable manner.

The Max Planck Society would like to maintain the trust built up over decades with its Iranian scientific partners and continue its cooperation even under these very difficult conditions. It is all the more important that we side with those who are fighting for freedom.

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