Tuesday, June 18, 2019 11:22

Activists unite to call for student freedom

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The Iranian Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi has joined with Amnesty International, Justice for Iran and the Advocacy Council for the Right to Education to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, including jailed student activists, on the occasion of National Students Day.

The joint statement asks the Islamic Republic to respect students’ freedom of speech and assembly and to end all policies that limit access to education based on any form of discrimination.

National Students Day, which falls on December 7, commemorates the deaths of three Tehran University students killed by security forces during a demonstration in 1953.

Dozens of students have been arrested and many face long jail terms since the 2009 Iranian election. Amnesty International states that students are arrested or summoned to “serve prison sentences for vaguely worded offences" or are banned from pursuing their education, in violation of Iran’s international human rights obligations.

Ann Harrison, the Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International, stressed: “Instead of imprisoning student activists who have used the commemoration of the student killings in 1953 to peacefully protest against current human rights violations, the Iranian authorities should redirect their concerns and end the culture of impunity for violations, which exists in Iran today.”

Among the jailed student activists named in the statement are: Majid Tavakoli, serving a nine-year prison sentence; Bahareh Hedayat, serving a 10-year sentence, and Zia Nabavi, also serving 10 years in Karoun Prison, far away from his family.

Harrison said: “Iran must once and for all halt its ongoing repression of student activists for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.”