Nabz Nameh: December 2012

Theme: 

One of the oldest ongoing political movements in Iran, the students' movement and student activists have played a crucial role in many of the country's pivotal moments in modern history. More than 70 student activists were imprisoned during the Green Movement protests of 2009-10, with more than half of them serving sentences in jail today.

Iran's Campaign Against
Students Continues

It was university activism and the student movement that laid the foundations of the modern era; the university and its students helped shape the modern institutions of Iranian society.

- Taghi Rahmani, former political prisoner and Human Rights Watch Hellman-Hammet Winner, December 2012

One of the oldest ongoing political movements in Iran, the students' movement and student activists have played a crucial role in many of the country's pivotal moments in modern history. More than 70 student activists were imprisoned during the Green Movement protests of 2009-10, with more than half of them serving sentences in jail today. For many years, the regime has engaged in a campaign to purge universities of what they call "secular elements," who they believe are advancing a progressive, ideological agenda. They do so by a variety of means, from identifying activists during campus protests and strikes, to interrogating students and coercing them to testify against their peers. Student activists are regularly imprisoned, harassed and put under pressure during the course of their academic career. Students whose activities do not result in imprisonment or expulsion receive a "star" mark next to their names on university records. "Starred" students face difficulties registering for subsequent semesters and/or for graduation, and come under scrutiny by intelligence and security agents who are stationed in each school. Despite immense state resources allocated against students, university activism has maintained its momentum. As the right to access education is a fundamental human right enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the UNESCO Convention Against Discrimination in Education, the Iranian government consistently denies the existence of any student prisoners and "starred" students.

Recent Reports Submitted to Nabz Iran on Rights Violations Against Students

This month in student rights…

On December 6, Nobel peace prize laureate and opposition member in exile Shirin Ebadi issued a joint statement along with the Council Against Discrimination in Education, Amnesty International, and Justice for Iran. In the statement she warns of the dire situation of a number of student activists, and calls upon the Iranian government to cease discrimination in education and the imprisonment of student prisoners. She also criticizes the Iranian government for violating the ICCPR and ICESCR treaties, to which Iran is a signatory.

On December 23, student activist Amin Roghani was sentenced to nine months in prison and expelled from higher education for five months. His home was raided by security forces and he was arrested on March 12, 2011. Since then, he has undergone many hours of interrogation, and was offered a short sentence if he were to cooperate with security forces outside prison. When he rejected this offer, a case was brought forth against him, and two of his university professors were summoned to court to testify against him. He has been convicted of propaganda against the regime and misleading public opinion, a loosely defined crime with which many activists are charged. In a recent statement, Amin stated that he considers his actions legal, that he is a law-abiding reformist, and believes that freedom of speech the first step in improving the situation in the country.

On December 25 Ebrahim Khodaei, head of the Iranian National Evaluation Organization, which conducts university entrance exams across the country, stated that is no such a thing as a "starred students". He stated that some students are not allowed into university because their merit is not approved by "related officials," but did not elaborate on the issue.

Mostafa Nili is a student activist who later became the Editor in Chief of Mehr Magazine. He was arrested during the violent clashes of Tasu'a in 2010, and has since been in prison. On December 25, Mostafa was transferred without notice from the political prisoners ward in Evin Prison to the infamous Rajai Shahr prison, which is designated for dangerous criminals. His transfer resulted in widespread protests across the ward. When he was being taken, prisoners of ward 350 (the section for political prisoners) chanted green movement slogans for seven hours.

Officials have stated that his transfer was due to his efforts to organize prisoners and disrupt the environment, while other prisoners transferred with him were dangerous criminals with a history of troublemaking in prison. Lawyers involved in the case have stated that his transfer is illegal. Mostafa has pledged to begin a hunger strike upon transfer, although no announcements have been made to confirm his hunger strike since the transfer took place.

In commemoration of International Human Rights day on December 10th, Nabz-Iran published a cartoon titled "Just Dreamer" by Cartoonist Kianoush Ramezani

Also in December on Nabz Iran

In December, Nabz Iran received 11 new reports of human rights violations, bringing the total reports in the Nabz database to 271. As the June presiden-tial election approaches, actions against political activists and prisoners have increased, and many of the reports received this month focused on the conditions of political prisoners in Tehran. Additionally, reports of violations of the rights of ethnic minorities in northwest Iran increased, focusing on the mistreatment of Iranians of Kurdish and Turkish descent. Reports included acts of politically motivated detention, denial of fair and public trial, religious and ethnic discrimination, censorship and limitations on freedom of speech.

Have you witnessed a human rights violation in Iran? Are you aware of an unreported violation? Submit a report to Nabz Iran; raise your voice!

In case you missed it: Key reports on Nabz Iran this month:

7th: IRGC General Madhi, alleged undercover agent for Iranian intelligence, taken into detention

11th: 28 people arrested in Tehran; charges: cooperation with satellite television, anti-revolutionary net-works

12th: Human Rights reporter Saeid Haeri returns to prison for two year prison sentence, 74 lashes

12th: University student Hamed Omidi sentenced to 3 years in prison

12th: Wave of Arrests in Tabriz, Northwest Iran; Political Activist Azizollah Pourvali Taken to Prison

13th: First person account: 40th day funeral ceremony for Blogger Sattar Beheshti; mother and sister har-assed, beaten by security forces

14th: Ayatollah Jannati, Secretary of Iran's Security Council, referring to the opposition: "Seditionists should-n't even dream of participating in the elections"

19th: Kurdish teacher Azad Rasoulnejad arrested; charges: Cooperating with Kurdistan political groups

27th: Student Activist Mostafa Nili, political activist Mostafa Tajzadeh transferred from Evin to Rajai Shahr prison

28th: Kurdish political prisoner Behrouz Alkhani in line for execution

Additional Resources: For more information on human rights in Iran, visit www.nabz-iran.com or visit the Nabz resource library at www.nabz-iran.com/en/resource-library.

Resource Library

Resource Library

The Resource Library is a growing database of UN treaties, dec-larations and conventions Iran has signed; legal documents, including the Iranian constitution and relevant Iranian laws; reports from non-governmental organizations (NGOs); fact sheets on the status of Iran's international obligations; and other material related to the human rights situation in Iran.

Nabz-e-Iran is an Iranian-led group effort. Iranians from within Iran and among the diaspora contribute reports on human rights to the site based on personal experience, testimony from other Iranians, and media sources. The site seeks to amplify Iranian voices and draw international attention to their cause. On the site, you can find: a map of rights violations, categorized by women's rights, polititcal rights and human rights, and up-to-date news and analysis on human rights.