Dozens of students at Tehran University have abstained from attending semester tests, protesting the detention of their peers during the widespread anti-establishment uprising late last December and in early January.
Scores of students were arrested in the unprecedented protests that broke out in the Shi’ite holy city of Mashhad and soon spread to more than 100 other cities across Iran.
According to state-run Iran Students News Agency (ISNA), a number of students of Tehran University’s College of Social Sciences assembled on June 18 on their campus to protest their fellow students being detained and a “police state” dominating the university.
“The students will carry on their protests until receiving an acceptable response from the officials of the Science and Higher Education Ministry as well as the authorities responsible for the arrests,” the secretary of the Students Islamic Association at the Social Science College, Mohammad Kazem Parhizgar, said on June 18.
According to Parhizgar, the dean of the college along with several lecturers attended the assembly, talked to students, and urged them to sit the tests.
The dean, Mehdi E’temadi, presented the protesters with a report concerning his efforts toward following up on the detained students’ legal cases.
Earlier, while attending the funeral of sociology professor Mohammad Amin Qane’ei Rad on June 17, dozens of students had held a similar protest demonstration on the campus.
University student activists Sina Darvish Omran and Ali Mozaffari were each sentenced to eight years in prison on June 11 by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran for allegedly joining protests in Tehran earlier in the year.
"The judge issued the maximum sentence of eight years in prison, but when the sentences are combined, only the five-year sentence for 'assembly and collusion against national security' will be applied," a student activist told the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
"The court's verdict was on the basis of reports given by Intelligence Ministry interrogators who forced the suspects to make confessions in the absence of legal counsel," the source added. "The court did not pay attention to statements by the suspects in their defense."
A German language graduate of Tehran University, Omran, and Mozaffari, studying anthropology, are among an unknown number of students’ rights activists arrested by the Intelligence Ministry’s agents during the demonstrations on December 30 and 31.
Meanwhile, Tehran’s representative to the parliament, Fatemeh Sa’eidi, tweeted, “The parties responsible for the arrests had promised us to exempt the detained students from any legal prosecution, but, they did not deliver.”
While President Hassan Rouhani’s Intelligence Ministry is directly responsible for the arrests, his deputy for legal affairs, Shaheendokht Molaverdi, simply said that she was following up the detainees’ cases.
At least 100 students were arrested during the December and January protests across Iran, when tens of thousands of demonstrators chanted vitriolic slogans against the highest authorities of the regime.
An MP, Farid Mousavi, at the time cited Intelligence Ministry officials as describing the arrests as a “preventive measure."
Scores of legal experts immediately rushed to say that none of the laws of the land allows arrests merely on the basis of “preventing a crime."
Nevertheless, Omran and Mozaffar have been convicted of the “vaguely defined” charges of acting against "national security" and waging "propaganda against the state."
A hard-line judge notorious for issuing harsh sentences in cases involving politically motivated charges, Abolqasem Salavati, has also issued a two-year ban that prohibits the students from traveling abroad, participating in political activities, and posting on the internet.
Omran and Mozaffari were held in solitary confinement, interrogated without the presence of their lawyers, and released on bail, said the source, who requested anonymity for security reasons, CHRI reported.
Furthermore, a student of anthropology, Ms. Layla Hassanzadeh, has also been sentenced to six years' prisons and a two-year ban from leaving the country.
Social sciences student Sina Rabiei and theater set designing student Mohsen Haqshenas were also sentenced.