(23 July 2008) Security and intelligence agents are engaged in an extensive campaign of arbitrary detentions targeting student activists around the country, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.
During the past two weeks, the authorities have detained more than twenty students, seventeen of whom remain in detention. These detentions coincided with the anniversary of massive student protests on 8 July 1999.
"After ten years of repression, the authorities are still not willing to acknowledge the legitimate rights of student activists and their organizations. Recent detentions are evidently orchestrated to silence and intimidate the academic community," the Campaign said.
On 13 July 2008, security agents raided the homes of Bahareh Hedayat and Mohammad Hashemi, two members of the group, Office to Foster Unity. The agents conducted a thorough search of the premises for several hours, confiscating their personal belongings. They were subsequently transferred to section 209 of Evin prison.
On 21 July 2008, the magistrate in charge of their interrogations, Matin Rasekh, announced the charges against Hedayat and Hashemi as "acting against national security." State-controlled media had earlier reported the charges as "communications with anti-revolutionary groups abroad," but Matin Rasekh denied these charges.
In the northern city of Mashad, security forces detained twelve student activists during the past two weeks. Some of these students belong to an ad-hoc committee formed to investigate and report on arbitrary detentions.
"It is ironic that human rights activists trying to follow up on arbitrary detentions are themselves victims of such methods," the Campaign said.
The extent of detentions reaches far beyond Tehran and Mashad and includes universities in Tabriz and Zanjan. The names of the seventeen students in detention are:
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called on the Iranian Judiciary and intelligence apparatus to immediately release all detainees and end the persecution and prosecution of student activists.
"Iranian universities are today in grip of a serious crisis following years of oppressive policies and denial of basic academic rights. The authorities must recognize that their repressive policies will only exacerbate this ongoing crisis. Rather than persecuting innocent students, they should engage with student organizations and let them be partners in solving the problems facing the academic community," the Campaign said.
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