Protests Engulf University Campuses
Media Hobbled and Mobile Communications Shut Down
Moussavi and Karroubi Feared Under House Arrest
(7 December 2009) Massive Iranian security and paramilitary forces are tear-gassing, beating, and arresting students on university campuses taking part in National Student Day demonstrations, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported today. The crack-down is taking place as authorities have forbidden international journalists from observing the events, and shut down internet and mobile-telephone communications, in an apparent attempt to suppress the flow of information and to thwart coordination of the protests. Leaders of the reform movement have been prevented from joining protesters.
“Whether or not information is passed to the international community, the Iranian people will know that their fundamental rights, and their traditions, are being desecrated,” stated Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign.
According to information received by the Campaign, university security forces have joined Basiji militiamen in using violence against protesters. In some cases, police entered campuses dressed in plainclothes, and used false student IDs to infiltrate student gatherings.
Protests have taken place at the following institutions in Tehran: Amir Kabir, Tehran, Sharif, Elm va Sanaat, Honar, Tehran Markaz, Sureh, and Tehran Shomal Universities in Tehran. Protests have also taken place at universities in Isfahan, Kermanshah, Shiraz, Mashhad, Tabriz, and Agricultural University of Karaj.
Security forces used plastic bullets to prevent students and protestors outside the Amir Kabir Campus to join one another, as they sought to contain the student gatherings, in effect trapping them inside the campus of the high-level university. Protesters also formed groups on Vanak Square in Tehran, marching toward the National Radio and TV station; the Campaign also received reports of protests in Haft Tir Square and Vali Asr Square in Tehran, which were being attacked with tear gas and batons.Reform politicians Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi have been physically blocked from joining protests, and are feared under house arrest. Zahra Rahnevard, wife of Mir Hussein Mussavi, reportedly joined protestors on the campus of Tehran University.
Also, Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of leading cleric and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, attended protests at the Science College of Azad University, but campus intelligence agents (herasat) detained her and moved her to the Humanities College.“We are deeply worried about the gratuitous use of violence against Iranian citizens whose freedom of expression, assembly, and movement are being thus thwarted,” Rhodes said.
The Campaign called upon the Iranian authorities to allow students and others to express themselves on National Student Day, and to halt violent efforts to suppress them.