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.