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Student Talks Of Arrest, Refusal To Issue Written Pledge

Alameh Tabatabai University president Seyed Sadreddin Shariati

Mahdiyeh Golrou was among four students of Tehran's Allameh Tabatabai University who were arrested in late November, accused of acting against national security, and held for eight days, including at the notorious Evin prison. RFE/RL's Radio Farda correspondent Mohammad Zarghami interviewed Golrou the day of her release.

Mahdiyeh Golrou: On Tuesday morning [November 25], we gathered in front of the university gates. University security forces brutally pushed us off campus; in fact, they left us right in front of the police and security forces.

Radio Farda: Were the police waiting outside the university building to arrest you?

Golrou: Yes. It was all coordinated between the university security forces and the police. Since the police have no right to enter the university building, the university security forces pushed us out of the gate. The university security forces are the police's right hand, and always help them.

Radio Farda: Where were you transferred first?

Golrou: I spent the first night in Vozara detention center. My other friends were in other detention centers. The following day, we went to the Revolutionary Court. [Tehran deputy prosecutor Hasan] Haddad knew that we hadn't done anything wrong. We were merely defending our rights to an education under international and Iranian laws. But we are deprived of such rights. On top of being deprived of our rights to an education, we have lost our rights to freedom, too.

Radio Farda: What did Mr. Haddad tell you?

Golrou: He was polite. He wanted us to pledge in writing that we wouldn't organize protests ever again. But my friends and I decided that we were not going to make such promises. We will not give up rights that we have achieved with great difficulties in recent years. Since we didn't sign such written pledges, we were transferred to Evin prison.

Radio Farda: You weren't sent to solitary confinement or the 209th section [which is believed to be controlled by Iranian intelligence and security services].

Golrou: No, but they told us, "You'll be sent to a place that is much worse than solitary confinement." I spent the first two nights among drug addicts. While I was there, I heard about how difficult their lives have been in Iranian society, and what drove them to drug addiction and drug dealing.

Radio Farda: What charges were brought against you?

Golrou: They accused us of acting against national security. But the day we were asked to make those written pledges at the Revolutionary Court, they also told us, "If you don't want to make such pledges, we are going to bring charges against you." They conceded that if there was any problem, such a problem was between the university and us. The Ministry of Intelligence, the Revolutionary Court, and the police -- all have repeatedly said the university involves them in its problems with its students.

Radio Farda: So the complainant in your case was the university?

Golrou: Yes.

Radio Farda: But in an interview we had with the head of the university's security forces, he told us that they had not lodged any complaint against the university students.

Golrou: But my husband and relatives of my friends were told by the court that the head of the university, Mr. Seyed Sadreddin Shariati, personally was one of the complainants. He was even introduced as a legal representative in the case. Our family members found out about it two days after our arrests and they went to meet him. He has met each of the students' relatives separately and, in fact, he has even tried to provoke them against each other, saying, "Your student's problem could be easily resolved, but that other student's problem won't be resolved."

Radio Farda: Despite all of those issues, you were still released from prison. Moreover, you were freed just a few days before 16 Azar [December 6], [which is] Students Day in Iran. Were there any bail or preconditions for your freedom?

Golrou: Since we had already told them that we were not going to make any pledges, they did not repeat that request. They only told us that we would return to the university in February and that until February we should not get involved in any activities at the university. It was decided that we should return to university by lawful means.