Thursday, November 15, 2007

Three More Arrests, another Prison Sentence
President's Latest Visit to a University
‎President Ahmadinejad's latest visit to a university was - once again - accompanied by new ‎arrests and judicial sentences. At least three student activists were arrested and another was ‎sentenced to 15 months imprisonment following Ahmadinejad's visit to the Iran’s Science and ‎Technology University [Daneshgah Elm va San'at]. Earlier last week, two other students were ‎arrested at the same institution. ‎
The names of the three detained students have not been publicly released, though several ‎websites reported that they were members of the Islamic Student Association at Khaje Nasir and ‎Amir Kabir universities. The student who was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment is Keyvan ‎Rafii, director of the Human Rights Activists organization in Iran. Yesterday, coinciding with ‎President Ahmadinejad's visit to the Science and Technology University, the Revolutionary ‎Court sentenced Rafii to 15 months suspended imprisonment. ‎
Rafii was arrested last summer and has spent more than 17 months in prison. He was charged ‎for his participation in a student demonstration in 2005 and the May Day rally in 2006. ‎
Raffi's sentence was announced yesterday as Ahmadinejad was delivering a speech at the ‎University: "I love students from the bottom of my heart… For me, when I spend time at the ‎university, I feel like a fish that has returned fresh ocean water… They say that SAVAK [Shah's ‎infamous spy agency] installed microphones even on the university trees… We have to thank ‎God that we are here right now." ‎
Ahmadinejad's previous visits to Tehran and Amir Kabir universities were marred by student ‎protests. Once again, even though Basiji students filled the meeting hall from 6am, ‎Ahmadinejad was not able to fully escape criticism from the students. He was interrupted ‎several times during his speech by dissident students. ‎
The state-owned television network broadcasted a censored version of Ahmadinejad's speech, ‎during which Basiji students chanted, "Ahmadinejad, we support you." ‎
However, several students who were able to enter the meeting hall were harassed and beaten by ‎Basiji students when they tried to show placards bearing the names of three detained Amir Kabir ‎University students.‎
According to one student, "No advertising was done for this event and students were not aware ‎of the event. Only Basiji students received special badges to enter the meeting hall." ‎
Another student, who was present at the meeting, told the Norooz website, "From all of the ‎attendees, around 2,000 students, 70 percent were Basijis from other universities, 20 percent ‎were Basijis from the Science and Technology University, and 3 or 4 were independent students, ‎who were assaulted right off the bat and thrown out of the building." ‎
The university's student association and publication editors protested the manner of ‎Ahmadinejad's visit and called on the university president to explain the controversial visit. ‎

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