Lawyer Dismissed From Faculty Position for Human Rights Work After 25 Years of Teaching
Mohammad Sharif, a lawyer and professor of law at Allameh Tabatabaee University, was dismissed from his faculty position this week. He spoke with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran about the potential reasons for his dismissal. “I think working on human rights cases was the reason for my dismissal, because there was no other incident to cause this. Though I’ve represented numerous individual rights and public freedom cases, I have always tried to remain within the framework of laws I did not believe in, and I never left that framework. I have been a law-abiding lawyer. I seldom gave interviews, and to the extent possible, I avoided talking to foreign media so that I could continue my services,” he told he Campaign.
After the disputed 2009 presidential election, Sharif represented many political and civil activists who were arrested. “It’s interesting. My dismissal letter is signed by Hojjatollah Mansouri, Head of University Administration. He was my student at some point and took two courses with me. He failed both courses. Now he signs my letter of dismissal,” Sharif said.
“The only solution left to me now is to take my problem to the Administrative Justice Court. Though in the past I represented many dismissed professors, such as my Allameh University colleague Professor [Morteza] Mardiha, I was unable to achieve positive results and all of them were banned from teaching on the pretext of ‘general disqualification.’ Even so, I will have to take the same route for myself. I have no choice. Other than this, I don’t know what else to do, and I don’t want to be pessimistic, so we shall see,” he told the Campaign.
“My livelihood came from my university salary. I exclusively worked on human rights cases which don’t generate income. My only income was this salary, which is now cut off. I will face severe problems for my livelihood now,” Sharif said. He added that his 25 years of teaching could have qualified him for retirement, but his dismissal disqualifies him.
Mohammad Sharif’s courses at Allameh Tabatabaee University were cancelled on 21 January, without any explanation. Sharif has represented many political prisoners including Ahmad Zeidabadi, Shiva Nazar Ahari, and Massoud Bastani. A large number of experienced faculty members at various universities in Iran have been dismissed or forced to retire since last year. Among them are Morteza Mardiha, Seyed Ali Asghar Beheshti Shirazi, Mohammad Shahri, Amir Nasser Katouzian, Karim Mojtahedi, Ali Sheikholeslam, Hassan Bashirieh, Mohammad Erfani, Abolghassem Gorji, Jamshid Momtaz, Mohammad Reza Shafiee Kadkani, and Reza Davari.