BUCU notes that:
- the recent protests in Iran following the murder of Mahsa Amini -a 22-year old Kurdish Iranian woman- have sparked a new wave of active struggle and hope for change in Iran
- many political prisoners are being incarcerated in the Iranian Evin prison, where eight prisoners died earlier this month following a fire that broke out in the prison
- the Iranian state has imprisoned and harmed those involved in upholding women’s and political prisoners’ rights
- unlike other universities and their VCs (such as, for instance, City University’s VC and Bristol University), VC Adam Tickell and the University of Birmingham’s central departments have been silent on the situation in Iran and the support the University can offer to students and staff in their communications. This is despite the fact that a large group of students and staff at the University of Birmingham are from Iran or have family and friends in Iran. This silence also stands in contrast to the University’s vocal stance on other international events such as (most recently) the war in Ukraine.
- many students and staff have fled students and staff had moved to the UK from Iran
- the University of Birmingham is part of the Council of Academics At Risk (CARA), but it is not part of Universities of Sanctuary.
- the peaceful protests and civil disobedience of students in Iran have been faced down with violence, killings, abductions, and disappearances. University campuses have been forcibly attacked and occupied by the state’s security forces
- workers in the oil and gas sector have been on strike in support of “the people’s struggles against organised and everyday violence against women and against the poverty and hell that dominates society”. This has taken place in the wake of a rise of labour protests in response to declining living standards as Western sanctions bear on the economy
- UCU has published a national statement in support of protesters in Iran.
BUCU believes that:
- women have the right to autonomy over their own bodies and lifestyle choices
- political activity should not be faced with imprisonment and repression
- the University of Birmingham has a duty to support its students and staff who had built their lives in Iran, and/or who have friends and family in Iran
- the University should support other students and higher education staff who are at risk of repression in Iran and wish to move to the UK.
- to stand in solidarity with the activists who are protesting the death of Mahsa Amini and other women murdered in similar circumstances, and with with the political prisoners of Iran
- to condemn the violence perpetrated by the Iranian state against its residents
- to support the call by Iranian academics to establish a grassroots initiative in support of the movement for ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ (www.faculty4wlf.com)
- to demand that the University of Birmingham offers material, funded support to its students and staff whose friends and families are facing repression in Iran through political imprisonment or other forms of violence. Some of the forms of institutional support would be (but are not limited to): extending contracts and implementing mitigating circumstances for performance reviews; supporting staff and students with Visa extensions; offering assignment extensions to students; establishing a hardship fund for staff and students; offering immediate and adequate counselling.
- to demand that the University of Birmingham follows the University of Toronto’s lead in materially supporting students and university workers who have faced or are at risk of facing repression in Iran. The University of Birmingham should release a statement of condemnation of Iranian state violence in the most categorical terms, alongside an action plan of support for current and potential students and staff from Iran.
- to demand that the University of Birmingham management joins Universities of Sanctuary and works with BUCU and the Council of Academics at Risk (CARA) to establish a funded scheme of sanctuary and support for students and higher education workers from Iran who are seeking refugee status or asylum in the UK. This would also require extending the University’s Refugee and Asylum Seeker support scheme for university workers, and the Sanctuary Scholarship scheme for students.
- to demand that the University of Birmingham lobbies UCEA to follow the action plan above.
Motion passed at University of Birmingham branch of UCU, general members’ meeting, 27 October 2022