Monday, July 03, 2006

The Cat and Mouse Game at the Universities

Hassan Zarehzadeh Ardeshir, Rooz Online:
A week after the banning of the Student Association of Amir Kabir University (a major university student organization in Iran) the wide student crackdown has been rising. More student activists have been either detained by officials or summoned, another student association banned and other student groups either harassed or hassled. READ MORE

Protesting this trend four days ago, 652 student activists issued a statement in which its signatories strongly condemned the arrest of students specifically Yashar Qajjar and Abed Tavancheh, calling the acts violations of the principle of freedom of speech, the Charter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and limiting academic freedoms, requesting the release of the detained.

The hardline rulers (of Iran) must be asked that how can students who have engaged in peaceful civil protests because their basic rights such as the right to organize, the right to have a healthy and secure dormitory, the right to have a publication, and the right to express their views have been denied be considered to be preys of foreign states?” the students ask in their statement.

In a related act, university students from the Zanjan province in the south have sent a separate letter to Majlis (Iran’s Parliament) deputies calling on for the release of Qajjar and Tavancheh.

At the same time, members of the Islamic Association of Amir Kabir University Students are on a sit-in strike in protest to the recent crackdown on students of their university. Ali Reza Garagozloo, a member of the central council of the association told ISNA student news agency, explained the reason of the strike to be,The illegal detention of Abed Tavancheh and Yashar Qajjar, the summons that have been sent by the disciplinary committee, the illegal ban on 11 student publications without notice to their managing editors and the banning of the association.”

Two other students in the towns of Zanjan and Ahar were recently detained and are kept at security centers. According to Advar News, Reza Abbasi, a member of organization Advar-e Tahkim Vahdat and a founding member of ASMAK (the committee for the defense of political prisoners in Azarbaijan) who had refrained from responding to the summons issued to him by the provincial Intelligence Bureau was arrested last week.

According to a bulletin of the student committee for the defense of political prisoners, Akram Asadollahi, a student of Tehran University and a political activist in Azarbaijan province was arrested 3 days ago by security agents in his house in Ahar and released 2 days later.

In another event, the Urumieh University Supervisory Board summoned Sajjad Niknam, the head of the Islamic Association for the second time in two months to respond to the complaints of a number of different Urumieh University institutions. A number of students have also been summoned to the university’s disciplinary board for questioning.

At the University of Mazandaran 14 members of the student organization were also summoned to the institution’s disciplinary board.

During the past week, the offices of the Islamic Association of Sistan and Baluchistan University were attacked and some of the members of the association were physically assaulted by an employee of the disciplinary office.

With the arrests of Reza Abbasi last week, and the continuation of the detention of Qajjar and Tavancheh and other students from Tehran University (detained on July 18th), the number of student detainees is rising. But as officials continue their assaults, so do students who continue their activities and demands, particularly those from Amir Kabir University who view the ban on their association to be illegal and challenge it.