Iran is Imprisoning University Students Accused of Attending Protests
The number of students being prosecuted for allegedly joining Iran’s December 2017/January 2018 protests is much higher than earlier estimates according to a well-known reformist lawmaker.
“A list has been put together of the students detained in the December 2017 incidents and they number more than 150,” said Member of Parliament Parvaneh Salahshouri in an interview with the state-funded Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) on July 10, 2018.
“So we’re not talking about just 55 or 90 students,” she added. “Unfortunately, the issue of student detentions is much more extensive.”
Salahshouri, who leads the pro-Rouhani women’s faction in Parliament, also told ILNA that 17 students had so far been sentenced to prison terms.
“The Intelligence Ministry is involved in some of the cases against these students and therefore the government and the ministry itself should explain what’s going on here,” Salahshouri said.
Iran’s Intelligence Ministry operates under President Hassan Rouhani, who appointed Mahmoud Alavi as intelligence minister in August 2013.
The latest sentences were issued on July 10 as the Appeals Court in Tabriz, East Azerbaijan Province, upheld a two-year sentence against Roya Saghiri and a six-month prison term for Ali Ghadiri, according to a student activist who spoke to the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on condition of anonymity.
A student in Tehran has also been sentenced to prison for allegedly participating in a demonstration two years earlier in 2016.
“Fereshteh Tousi, a sociology graduate student at Allameh Tabataba’i University [in Tehran], has been sentenced to a year-and-a-half in prison and banned from political and civil activists for two years. She had been charged with ‘propaganda against the state’ for being present at the Student Day event at Allameh Tabataba’i University on December 17, 2016,” according to the source.
The source noted that a preliminary court also sentenced Sadegh Gheysari, a journalist and student at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, to seven years in prison, 74 lashes and a two-year ban on media activities and traveling abroad because he reported on a clash between Muslim Sufis and the police in Tehran in February 2018.
In June 2018, Sina Darvish Omran and Ali Mozaffari were convicted of the charges of acting against “national security” and waging “propaganda against the state” and sentenced to eight years in prison each for the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security.”
Earlier in March 2018, University of Tehran anthropology student Leila Hosseinzadeh was issued a six-year prison sentence and banned from traveling abroad for two years while theater set design student Mohsen Haghshenas got two years in prison and sociology student Sina Rabiei received a one-year prison sentence and a two-year travel ban.
More than 60 student organizations from universities across Iran sharply criticized President Rouhani for the crackdown on students led by his Intelligence Ministry.
“Dr. Rouhani’s ‘moderate’ government has not only failed to defend the students but evidently his Intelligence Ministry is involved in their arrest and prosecution,” said the student organizations in a joint statement published in July 2018.