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University In Iran Suspends Students For Gathering To Honor Victims Of Downed Plane

FILE PHOTO: Security officers and Red Crescent workers are seen at the site where the Ukraine International Airlines plane crashed after take-off from Iran's Imam Khomeini airport, on the outskirts of Tehran, Iran January 8, 2020.

A university in Iran has acknowledged that it has reprimanded and suspended students for organizing a memorial gathering for the victims of a Ukrainian airliner shot down over Tehran in January.

Earlier, Ensafnews website in a brief report had said that 20 students were punished for organizing a candle-burning ceremony to honor the victims. The date of the event was not mentioned.

Following this report, the communications office of Mohaqeq Ardebili University issued a letter asking Ensafnews to publish it. The university said in the letter that students did not ask for a permit for the gathering and they should be punished for “disrupting order” on the campus. Therefore, the university reprimanded and suspended 15 students.

The university has asked all those “who respect the law and the rights of universities” to show support for the decision.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard fired two anti-air missiles in the early morning of January 8 at a Ukrainian airliner with 176 passengers and crew on board as it took off from Tehran’s international airport. The plane crashed killing all onboard.

Iran has withheld the flight recorders, refusing to hand them over to the Ukraine or another country for analysis. Its investigation of the incident it called “human error” has remained secret and no clear report has been issued.

After the incident protests took place in several Iranian cities and many were arrested. Some writers and artists also criticized the government’s handling of the case and some were arrested and jailed.

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s laws formally allow protests with permits but in practice no critics or opponents receive permission to organize gatherings and marches.