A highly regarded professor in Zabol University in southeastern Iran has been sentenced to imprisonment and flogging for posting protests against university administration on Telegram, a cloud-based instant messaging application popular in Iran.
Vaghayeh Etegafhieh daily reports that a member of Zabol University Science Faculty has been sentenced to four years in jail and 75 lashes for protesting against the university’s management. Without identifying the professor the report adds that the accused professor had been recognized earlier as an Exemplary Professor by the university faculty.
Zabol University Science Faculty members have filed several complaints against the university administration. However, the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology which oversees Zabol University has not responded to any of these complaints. The Zabol University faculty has complained about instances of plagiarism, favouritism and the university’s decline in national ranking from 103 to 127.
Nepotism, coercion to sign petitions in support of the university president, threat of dismissal and fabrication of charges against students are also among other complaints cited by Zabol University faculty.
Members of the university’s Science Faculty have written two letters to protest against these problems and have pointed the finger at Moosa Bohlooli the head of the university which was appointed to the position by the Minister of Science, Mohammad Farhadi. They maintain that this appointment “reeks of nepotism”.
The letters also refer to instances of plagiarism and false claim of contributions by well-known scholars in articles published by Moosa Bohlooli. The Rohani administration has not addressed any of the accusations listed in the two letters from Zabol University Science Faculty.
Meanwhile Bohlooli has dismissed all the accusations and has told Vaghayeh Etegaghieh that they are all “nonsense”.
Zabol University regulations stipulate that faculty members have the right to elect the University head themselves through a democratic process.
Having received no response to their letters of complaint, the faculty members reportedly launched a Telegram page entitled “Transparency Watch” to post their complaints against the university administration. The move allegedly triggers fury from the administration which leads them to file charges against the top university professor known as the Exemplary Professor of their institution.
The unnamed individual has been charged with libel, defamation, spreading lies and disturbing public opinion for which the court has passed a sentence of four years in jail and 75 lashes.
Zabol Unversity president Moosa Bohlooli has claimed that the charges filed against this professor are of a personal nature and are not related to the activities of the Telegram page.
Zabol is the capital of the province of Sistan and Baluchestan in southeast Iran and home to Zabol University, the largest university in a province that the Bluchi ethnic minority resides.
The province has been suffering from lack of access to resources and the central government in Tehran often dismisses the needs and the human rights of the Bluch minority. There is constant conflict that often involves suppression of the locals by the intelligence officers or paramilitary Basijis. Many executive and governmental positions in the province are filled by favoritism to non-locals who are chosen by the central government.