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Iranian Students Protest Jail Sentences For Classmates

Students protesting at Amir Kabir University today (Courtesy Photo) October 22, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Students at Tehran's Amir Kabir University demonstrated today against the prison sentences handed down to three fellow students for allegedly insulting Islam.

A witness told Radio Farda that attendees also protested the arrest of leading human rights activists Emad Baqi and pro-reform cleric Hadi Ghabel.

Students Ehsan Mansuri, Majid Tavakoli, and Ahmad Ghasaban were sentenced on October 17 to prison terms of up to three years over comments published in a school newsletter. They were charged with "insulting Islam's sanctities and its authorities."

Reformist student groups have rejected the charges as "fabricated" and the sentences as "unfair." They say their classmates are the latest victims of a government crackdown on dissent on university campuses.

One of the students who participated in today's protest told Radio Farda that the speakers included students from other universities -- all of them calling for the release of Mansuri, Ghasaban, and Tavakoli. Nariman Mostafavi said the event took place under tight security and that skirmishes broke out when students insisted on gathering for the protest:

"About 2,000 people took part" in the event today, Mostafavi said. "University officials tried very hard to prevent it from taking place. Beginning this morning, they weren't letting student activists from Amir Kabir enter the university -- they wanted to prevent the event from taking place. Students insisted and there were clashes with the university's security forces, who beat up students. But some students were able to enter the university and the event took place."

It was impossible to confirm Mostafavi's crowd estimate, but photos from the event show at least several hundred young people in attendance.

In recent months, Tehran's Amir Kabir University has been the scene of several rallies to protest government pressure on student activists.

In December, Amir Kabir students protested during a visit by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, including chants suggesting he was a "dictator."

On October 8, dozens of students chanted anti-Ahmadinejad slogans and scuffled with presidential supporters on the campus of Tehran University while Ahmadinejad spoke at the school.

(with material from

RFE/RL Iran Report

RFE/RL Iran Report

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