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Iran: Over 1,000 Equal Rights Defenders Protest the Recent Arrest of Student Activists


The Women and Mothers of this Land, will Not Remain Silent in the Face of Violence Against our Children

A statement of protest which was issued by women involved in the women’s movement and supported by men who identify themselves as equal rights defenders, strongly objected to the arrest and violent crackdowns against student leaders. This statement which was signed by over 1,000 persons, recounted the most recent wave of arrests which began with the arrest of 6 members of the Central Council of the Office to Foster Unity, the most active student group. The Central Council members, Bahareh Hedayat, Mohammad Hashemi, Ali Niko Nesbati, Mahdi Arabshahi, Hanif Yazdani and Ali Vaghfi, had gathered for a peaceful sit-in in front of Amir Kabir University on the 7th anniversary of the student unrest on 18th of Tir, 1378 (July 1999), which ended in violence and storming of university dormitories and wide-spread arrest of student protesters. The Central Council members staged a sit-in to protest not only in marking of the 18th of Tir, but to demonstrate their objection to continued detention of 8 of their fellow students at Amir Kabir university, Abbas Hakimzadeh, Ali Saberi, Ahmad Ghassaban, Meghdad Khalilpour, Majid Tavakoli, Pooyan Mahmoudian, Majid Sheikhpour, Ehsan Mansouri, who were arrested over 2 months ago based on false allegations of inciting public opinion, printing of inflammatory and derogatory materials and insulting state leaders.

The statement issued by equal rights defenders further objected to the storming of security forces and police of the office of the Alumni Organization of Iran, a leading student organization, closely affiliated with the Office to Foster Unity. Security forces stormed the offices of this human rights and political organization, by firing their guns, and finally arresting members of the organization present in the office, including: Abdollah Momeni, Bahram Fayazi, Morteza Eslahchi, Mojtaba Bayat, Ezat-ollah Ghalandari, Habib Haj Heidari, Massoud Habibi, Saieed Hossein Nia, Arash Khandel and Ashkan Ghisvand. Computers and other equipment were confiscated and the offices of the Alumni Organization of Iran, which was a legally registered entity, were sealed.

The signatories to this statement reminded authorities that the peaceful protesters in front of Amir Kabir were acting within their legal rights as citizens, based on the 27th amendment of the constitution, which allows for peaceful gatherings and protests. They further explained that Iranian women and mothers have worked hard and under difficult circumstances to raise responsible children who care for the well-being of their community at large, and who are willing to take risks to make a better future for all citizens. Addressing decision makers, the statement went further to explain that "the mothers and women of this land, will come face to face with the wave of violence created by the state, and will take whatever means necessary to protect their children and ensure their freedom."

The statement also protested the heavy sentences issued for some women’s rights activists who are also involved in the student movement, such as Delaram Ali, who was sentenced to 2 years and 10 months in prison and 10 lashes, Azadeh Forghani, who was issued a suspended sentence of 2 years and Bahareh Hedayat, who was issued a 2 year suspended sentence.

The statement further expressed special concern for the circumstances of Bahareh Hedayat, who is the only female student arrested in this latest crackdown against student leaders, and as such, must be enduring much more difficult circumstances, than her male counterparts. It should be noted that Bahareh Hedayat serves as the Secretary of the Women’s Commission of the Office to Foster Unity and is an active member of the women’s movement. As mentioned earlier, she has a suspended sentence of 2 years, which with this latest arrest and charges, will in all likelihood have to be served. Abdullah Momeni, spokesman for the Alumni Organization of Iran, also has a suspended sentence, and his colleagues fear that his illegal detention will serve as an excuse to implement the suspended sentence.

Read the statement in Persian

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