Students at several universities in Iranian capital Tehran have been protesting harsh verdicts against their fellow students in recent days.
On Saturday, June 23, a group of students gathered at Tabatabaei University in Tehran and demanded the release of their imprisoned colleagues.
The protests started on Monday, June 11, when several students from the school of social sciences of Tehran University refrained from attending their exams as a sign of protest.
At least 100 students were arrested during the country-wide protests in December-January, most of them in Tehran. A dozen students received long-term prison sentences. Farid Mousavi, a member of Iranian parliament announced later that the arrests were a “preventive” measure, indicating that the students had not been necessarily involved in anti-establishment protests, but were arrested merely to prevent the potential expansion of unrest in the country.
Among others, Ali Mozaffari and Sina Darvish Omran are two students of Tehran University who each have received an 8-year prison sentence for propaganda against the regime and insulting the supreme leader. According to the court verdict, both of them are also not allowed to leave the country or engage in political or cyber activities for two years.
Leila Hosseinzadeh, Mohsen Haghshenas, and Sina Rabeii are other students who were sentenced to six, two, and one year in prison respectively.
Students have criticized the government of President Hassan Rouhani and held his Ministry of Intelligence responsible for the arrests. During his election campaign, Rouhani had promised to provide the students more freedom and help the students who have been barred from the university due to political activities to return to class. So far, he has failed to fulfill his promise, the students say.
“How can a student, born in 1996, be sentenced to 8 years in prison for doing propaganda against the regime, but the judge Mortazavi receive only two years for being accessory to murder of four people,” writes an Iranian Twitter user referring to Mozaffari’s verdict and adds that the judge Mortazavi has even received support from some officials who have demanded his release.
Said Mortazavi is Iran's notorious former chief prosecutor and judge who played a major role in sentencing opposition activists from Iran's Green Movement after the disputed 2009 presidential election. Following the death of at least three arrested protestors due to torture and bad conditions at the detention facility, Mortazavi received a very mild sentence of two years in prison. The verdict was issued in 2017 after a prolonged process, a sign of unwillingness of the regime to punish people loyal to it.