University Campus Violently Attacked
Dozens of Students Beaten and Detained
(25 February 2009) Government forces violently attacked hundreds of protesting students at Amir Kabir University in Tehran and arrested dozens of students on 23 February 2009, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.
The Campaign expressed its serious concerns for the health of the detainees and fears that they may be subjected to torture and ill-treatment. It called on the Iranian government to immediately release all Amir Kabir students and to end its persecution and prosecution of students.
The students were protesting the burial of “unknown martyrs” from the Iran-Iraq war on their campus, as they believed it to be a politically motivated government ploy and considered it an insult to the martyrs to be abused as “political instruments.”
“The government of President Ahmadinejad is desperately trying to silence all independent voices ahead of the upcoming June elections under any conceivable pretext. The university students are being targeted for their outspoken advocacy and defense of freedom of expression,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s spokesperson.
Government forces, backed by members of the Basiji student militia and a mob of outsiders brought to the campus, violently confronted hundreds of protesting students. According to Amir Kabir News, the mob, armed with “knives, pepper sprays, and martial arts weapons” attacked protesting students and beat them.
Security agents detained 70 students and took them to the local police station at Palestine Square for questioning. As of 24 February, the authorities had released 40 detainees, but reportedly transferred the remaining 30 students to Tehran’s Evin Prison.
On the morning of 24 February, security agents attacked the homes of four Amir Kabir students, Ahmad Ghasaban, Nariman Mostafavi, Mehdi Mashayekhi, and Abbas Hakimzadeh and detained them. The four students are former and present members of the university’s Islamic Students Association. The agents refused to provide any information to their families.
Four other Amir Kabir University students, Majid Tavakoli, Hossein Torkashvand, Esmaiel Salmanpour and Kourosh Daneshyar have been in detention at Evin Prison since 5 February and are reportedly on hunger strike.
In a meeting with the families and lawyers for the detained students, Mehdi Karrubi, a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections and former Speaker of the Parliament, opposed the burial of martyrs on university campuses. “They want to repress students under any possible excuse,” Amir Kabir News quoted him as saying.