Thursday, October 15, 2009

Interviews with Student Activists

  • Basij Loss of Power and Confusion of Authorities

Following student protests at Tehran and Sanati Sharif universities, the oppression of students has become more intense. The latest instance is the arrest of 17 student activists at Jamshidieh Park. Even though 15 of them were released the next day two remain in custody and have been transferred to Ward 209 of Evin prison. We review this incident in an interview with Mehdi Arabshahi, Bahareh Hedayat and the brother of Ahmad Ahmadian, now in Ward 209.

  • 10 Hours of Interrogation within 24 Hours

Mehdi Arabshahi, student activist who was arrested on Friday with 16 other activists, in an interview with “Rooz” explained:

"On Friday we gathered at Jamshidieh Park with other members of Tehran universities associations, to discuss latest news and issues and also to spend some time together at the end of the week. I arrived late, 10 minutes hadn’t passed when some 40 officers raided, arresting us and and taking us to the Information Ministry."

According to the secretary of Tahkime Vahdat organization, the arrested students were interrogated more than 10 times in 24 hours. Mr Arabshahi said: "They interrogated us for more than 10 hours with regard to Friday’s meeting, the organizations activities during the past few months and student gatherings at Tehran and Sanati Sharif universities. They then they gave us a statement and told us we must sign it. It read: 'We promise that we will not undertake any illegal activities' when we do not have any such activities. I crossed out the parts where it stated 'I promise not to repeat what I have done.' and then signed it. After signing these statements they released 15 of us, but assured us that we would be summoned again.

According to Mehdi Arabshahi, Ezat Torbati and Ahmad Ahmadian two other members of Tahkime Vahdat are still being detained in connection with recent demonstrations and were transferred to Ward 209 of Evin prison.

  • Students Detained in Evin’s Ward 209

The brother of Ahmad Ahmadian the student activist arrested on Friday told “Rooz”:

"Ahmad hasn’t contacted the family yet and our follow-up has led nowhere. We went to the Ministry of Information twice, but they told us that my brother and Mr Torbati had been transferred to Ward 209 of Evin prison and that from now on we would have to take matters up with the Revolutionary Court."

Mr Ahmadian stated that his brother is being charged with attempts against national security. With regards to his follow-up with the court stated: "Unfortunately we had no response from the court and we still don’t know to which branch of this court my brother’s case has been transferred."

In response to the question: What is the reason for not releasing these two student activists among the 17 originally arrested, Mr Ahmadian stated: "We are still not informed. But last Tuesday, my brother who was a resident of a student dormitory, was prevented from staying there. His food allowance and dormitory accommodation was voided without explanation and he was told that they would turn him in to the police if he returned to the dorm.

Finally, Mr Ahmadian hoped that the country's authorities will consider the tense atmosphere at universities, without further comment.

  • Haste of Government Intelligence

Bahareh Hedayat believes the increase of pressure on student activists is due to haste and confusion of the country's information authorities. Ms Hedayat, who is an activist emphasized: "Government authorities and all those who have been following the green movement knew that once schools and universities were open fresh blood would be injected into this movement along with the pursuit of new goals, which can be a threat to government authorities.

Referring to student activist summons, threats and denial of education by the disciplinary committees and information offices, Ms Hedayat said: "The authorities planned a series of actions in an attempt to prevent any movement and disperse student activities, months before the re-opening. These attempts began with Khamenei’s statement regarding the study of humanities and without legitimate excuse ended in the summoning and arrest of student activists once again. This clearly shows the confusion and chaos of the information authorities.

According to Ms Hedayat, the broadcasting of a so-called confession of Abdollah Moemeni, a well-known figure of Iranian students, on TV and summoning more than 20 student activists from different universities to disciplinary committees and information offices, is to intimidate and frustrate the student activists.

She added: "This method has continued and now resulted in students' being deprived of the use of university dorms. About 400 students in Tehran have been denied their dormitory residence for chanting Allah Akbar (God is Great) from their rooms.

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