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15 Iranian Reformist Students Beaten and Detained


Fifteen Iranian reformist students and one mother were beaten up by police and plainclothes security agents and detained Monday on the anniversary of a bloody raid on a Tehran university dormitory, student leaders said.

“Six students were attacked, beaten up and then detained by police and plainclothes security agents as they staged a sit-in at the main entrance to Amir Kabir University,” Nariman Mostafavi, a reformist student leader told The Associated Press.

Nine other students and the mother of one of them were also attacked and detained later Monday after police and plainclothes security agents broke windows and forced their way into the offices of the student group in central Tehran, said Mostafavi, a leader of the Office for Fostering Unity, Iran’s largest reformist student group.

There was no immediate confirmation of the arrests from authorities, but the government rarely comments on such arrests.

Iran on Monday had banned street protests to mark the anniversary of July 9, 1999 raid by police and hard-line vigilantes on the Tehran university dormitory that killed one person and injured at least 20 others.

Those attacks triggered six days of nationwide protests, the worst since the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the pro-U.S. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and brought hard-line clerics to power.

Pouya Ifaei, another student leader, said the students organized their sit-in to protest the continued detention of eight students who have been in custody since May on vague charges and to mark the anniversary of the 1999 attack.

Mostafavi said it was not yet clear where the students were taken Monday, and authorities have refused to answer their questions about their whereabouts.

He said the plainclothes agents fired shots in the air when they stormed the building of the Office for Fostering Unity.

“Hard-line agents told people in the streets that they attacked a building used by ruffians and drug traffickers, not students. This is the enemy we are dealing with,” Mostafavi said.

Student groups were the main supporters of former reformist President Mohammad Khatami, but they were routinely confronted and jailed by hard-line unelected bodies including the judiciary.

Students have effectively been silenced after the election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005. Student activists have been banned from attending classes and reformist professors forced to retire as part of a campaign by hard-liners to silence opposition voices.

Students also complain that their families sporadically receive threatening phone calls from unidentified people warning them that the students would be expelled from the university if they continued their pro-democracy activities.

–Associated Press

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