Iranian Security Forces Have Arrested More Than 40 University Students. These Are Their Names.
Intelligence Ministry Pressures Families to Avoid Interviews
More than 40 Iranian university students, mostly activists, were arrested between December 30, 2017, and January 4, 2018, according to credible information received by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Some of the detainees are being held in Evin Prison’s Ward 209, which is controlled by the Intelligence Ministry and which has threatened some of the detainees’ relatives with arrests.
“Several of my activist friends and myself contacted the families of the detainees to ask about their situation but they all said that the Intelligence Ministry had strictly forbidden them from talking and warned them that publicizing their cases would delay their freedom,” a student activist in Tehran told CHRI.
Requesting anonymity for fear of reprisals, the activist said that most of the detainees are members of university trade unions or work for student publications, but that some have no affiliations.
“Several students called their families and said they were inside Ward 209, which belongs to the Intelligence Ministry,” added the source. “Usually in these situations one security agency takes charge.”
Continued the activist: “Most of these students were echoing the economic demands of the lower classes in society but they had nothing to do with the start of the protests. The authorities are probably worried about the movement growing if students support and join the protests. In fact, when the protests began, there was a lot of commotion in the [Tehran University] dormitory area.”
According to state-run news agencies, at least 22 people have been killed and more than a thousand arrested between December 28, 2017, when the protests began in the city of Mashhad, and January 3, 2018. Officials have avoided blaming security forces for the deaths, but anti-riot police and the semi-official Basij volunteer militia force, which operates under the control of the Revolutionary Guards, have been instructed to quell the protests.
On December 30 and 31, protesting students at Tehran University and the Amirkabir University of Technology were heard shouting slogans such as “Students will die, but won’t take humiliation,” “Students, workers, unite” and “Jobs, bread, freedom.”
On January 1, the University Trade Unions’ Council of Iran (UTUCI) reported that security forces had arrested four members of the council’s branch at Tehran University after they had a meeting with the school’s chancellor.
“After a joint meeting between members of the UTUCI and the chancellor to seek the freedom of students detained during the recent protests, four members of the council were arrested by the security forces as soon as they left the room,” said the UTUCI in a statement.
Speaking to CHRI, the student activist criticized the Iranian president for standing by and doing nothing as security forces arrest peaceful protesters.
“Hassan Rouhani’s government claims to be moderate but his Intelligence Ministry has arrested members of a legal student trade union organization only because they asked where the detained students were being held,” said the student.
“Rouhani promised to make universities safer for students but instead they have turned into military fortresses and more and more students are being arrested every day,” added the source.
Rouhani, who enjoyed widespread support from university students during his May 2017 re-election campaign, promised to de-securitize Iranian universities, which have often served as the focal point of protest movements in Iran.
“I believe it is necessary for me to address the people of Iran, and especially students and academics, and tell them that the government will continue to respect science and educational institutions … and will not back down an inch from respecting students and freedom of thought and expression in universities,” said Rouhani in a speech to Parliament on October 29, 2017.
In an open letter to Science Minister Mansour Gholami on January 3, a coalition of 27 university student unions demanded the release of the detained students.
“Following the popular protests in recent days against economic problems and the high cost of living, there were a number of gatherings at universities by students… who conducted themselves in a purely peaceful fashion, without creating any tensions,” said the statement.
“Based on Article 12 of the Charter on Citizens’ Rights, peaceful student gatherings and protests are allowed,” added the statement. “There is no law against free expression and criticism.”
The charter was signed by President Rouhani in December 2016 but is not legally binding.
Since December 30, relatives of several detainees have gathered in front of Evin Prison peacefully demanding their freedom.
“We know they are being held in Evin Prison but four days after their detention, we still don’t know what kind of situation they are in,” she added.
According to credible information sent to CHRI, the following students have been detained in Iran since anti-government protests began on December 28, 2017:
1- Leila Hosseinzadeh
2- Sina Rabiei
3- Mohsen Haghshenas
4- Mikaeil Gholirad
5- Pedram Pazireh, deputy UTUCI secretary, Tehran University branch
6- Mohammad Mohammedan
7- Ali Mozaffari
8- Mehdi Vahabi-Sani
9- Soheil Movahedan
10- Arash Avari
11- Danial Iman
12- Amir-Hossein Elmtalab
13- Majid Akbari
14- Mohsen Torabi
15- Kasra Nouri
16- Aref Fathi
17- Mohsen Mir-Mohseni
18- Ehsan Mohammadi, former UTUCI member, Tehran University branch
19- Sina Emran
20- Tarokh Maleki Rouzbehani
21- Saha Mortezaei, UTUCI secretary, Tehran University branch
22- Mohammad Ahmadian Heravi
23- Negin Aramesh
24- Mohammad Amin Osanloo
25- Yasaman Mahboubi
26- Hesam Hosseinzadeh
27- Peyman Geravand, former UTUCI member, Tehran University branch
28- Sama Derakhshani
29- Faezeh Abdipour
30- Majid Mosafer
31- Mohammad Khani
32- Siavash Amjadi
33- Mohsen Shahsavan
34- Sina Ghaffari
35- Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam
36- Farshid Tajmiri
37- Nabi Tardast
38- Omid Jamshidi
39- Amin Khosravi
40- Ali Assadi
41- Ali Baratali
42- Soheil Aghazadeh
43- Ali Ghadiri