Iran: Student editors jailed for allegedly publishing offensive articles
York, May 15, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the recent
arrests of four Iranian student editors of Amirkabir University of Technology in
Tehran following the publication of newsletters carrying articles deemed
insulting to Islam. The students say they had no involvement in the
publications, calling them a fraud designed to disrupt student elections. All of
the university’s student publications were nonetheless banned by the school
administration, according to online reports.
In the run-up to the
Islamic Student Association annual elections at the prestigious polytechnic
institute, newsletters bearing the names and logos of four student publications
were distributed throughout the campus on April 30, according to AUTNews,
the Web site of the Islamic Student Association of Amirkabir University. They
contained three controversial articles and two caricatures deemed critical of
the Iranian regime and insulting to Islam.
One article questions the
infallibility of the Prophet Mohammad, the first Shiite Imam Ali, and Supreme
Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to CPJ sources familiar with the
Persian-language newsletters. Another story criticizes the regime’s crackdown on
modern female clothing, and a third ridicules Islamic women’s attire.
The four arrested editors issued a statement May 3 saying that the
newsletters fraudulently used the names and logos of their publications,
according to AUTNews. The editors claimed that student members of the
Basij—a militia affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, an elite unit under
the supreme leader’s control—reproduced the names and logos in an attempt to
disrupt the elections to the Islamic Student Association, AUTNews said.
Immediately following distribution of the newsletters, the Basij attacked the
publications and their activist leaders, according to online sources.
Islamic Student Associations, which operate on campuses across Iran, are
at the forefront of student political activism. The New York Times
reported that Amirkabir University Chancellor Alireza Rahai had previously
ordered the closure of the association’s offices on campus. All of the arrested
editors are considered pro-democracy activists.
that more than 100 student publications across Iran issued statements of support
for the student publications and condemned those responsible for fabricating the
“We are outraged by the arrest of these four student
editors,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Iranian authorities continue
to crack down on political and pro-democracy activists. These arrests show the
extent the regime is willing to go to silence dissenting voices.”
arrests began in early May, according to AUTNews. Ahmad Ghassaban,
managing editor of Sahar, was arrested May 3, according to international
news reports. On May 7, the first day of the Islamic Student Association
elections, Maghdad Khalilpur, managing editor of Atiyeh, was arrested
while leaving the university campus, the Iranian Student News Agency reported.
Puyan Mahmudian, managing editor of Rivar, and Majid Sheikhpur,
managing editor of Sar Khat, appeared before a Revolutionary Court on
Wednesday, the last day of the student elections, and were ordered detained,
All four are being held at Tehran’s notorious Evin
prison, along with three other members of the Islamic Student Associations
arrested during unrest on campus. About 2,000 Amirkabir students voted in the
elections amid reports of violent obstruction by the Basij and university
security, according to AUTNews and international news reports. Ghassaban
and Sheikhpur were among those who won seats.
Ali Afshari, former
secretary-general of the Islamic Student Association at Amirkabir University of
Technology, told CPJ that he believes the disruption of Islamic Student
Association elections was in retaliation for disruption students had caused
during President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s December 2006 campus speech. The New
York Times reported that during the speech students shouted, “Death to the
dictator,” and burned posters with Ahmadinejad’s image.
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