41 Tehran University Students Facing Prosecution For Participating in December 2017 Protests
The Iranian Judiciary has opened cases against 41 students of Tehran University who allegedly participated in protests in the capital city in January 2018, the university’s Deputy Chancellor for Cultural Affairs Majid Sarsangi announced on March 1, 2018.
“What we can do in terms of helping these students with their problem is to have talks with our dear colleagues in the Judiciary so that they may treat them with the highest degree of Islamic mercy, and that’s what’s being done right now,” said Sarsangi.
“We should also keep in mind that for the majority of the detained students, this was the first time they had gotten involved in such incidents and they had clearly lost control of their emotions,” he added. “They were under certain illusions and got taken advantage of by others. We must separate such individuals from the saboteurs, as our great supreme leader said.”
CHRI had previously reported that more than 40 university students had been arrested between December 30, 2017, and January 4, 2018, in Tehran amid protests there and dozens of other Iranian cities against the government’s economic policies and state repression.
Some of the detainees were held in Evin Prison’s Ward 209, which is controlled by the Intelligence Ministry.
On February 28, more than 20 student organizations issued a joint statement condemning the prosecution of their classmates who are now facing the possibility of long prison terms.
“Unfortunately, the criminalization of student activities is a problem that persists at full strength despite being criticized by student activists for many years,” said the statement.
“All the detained students have been released on bail but in recent days a considerable number of them have been summoned to court and informed of serious charges,” it added.
On February 8, Tehran University Chancellor Mahmoud Nili Ahmadabadi said several students were still in detention “even though they were not involved in any political activities on campus.”
“We didn’t have any problems with these students and they didn’t have any problem with the university. We don’t know why they have been detained. I have asked my colleagues to urgently follow up on the cases concerning these student detainees but the security officials are not providing us all the information,” Ahmadabadi told the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency.
The detained students have received support from a large number of lawmakers who called on the Judiciary to release them quickly.
“According to reports given to MPs in a closed parliamentary session on January 7, if recent bitter events are not analyzed and closely dissected, they could harm our national interests,” said a letter from 40 members of the Iranian Parliament to President Hassan Rouhani and Judiciary Chief Sadegh Larijani.
“In order to prevent discontent from spreading, the security and law enforcement forces carried out numerous arrests. While we are thankful for their efforts, it appears that prolonged detentions, especially of the students and particularly the female students, will lead to many problems,” wrote the MPs.
“Therefore, we beseech you to take steps to end the detention of students as soon as possible,” they added.