Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Norooz behind Prison Walls

Students Remain Behind Bars

As the Islamic Republic of Iran refrained from releasing several political prisoners to ‎spend time with their families for Norooz [the annual Persian New Year that falls on the ‎fist day of Spring], the families of detained students spent their new year near the walls of ‎the Evin prison, and began the new year “at the place closest to their children.” ‎

Several political and student activists joined in with the families of imprisoned students I ‎solidarity for their detained peers. ‎

Previously, the website of Amir Kabir University had reported that mothers of eight ‎detained students by the names of Ehsan Mansouri, Ahmad Ghassaban, Majid Tavakkoli, ‎Sabah Nasri, Hedayat Ghazali, Saeed Feizollah, Abolfazl Jahandar, and Saeed ‎Derakhshandi, published an open letter announcing their intention to “celebrate the ‎advent of the new year near the walls of the Evin prison.” ‎

During the last few days of the calendar year, the families of three detained Amir Kabir ‎University students sent an open letter to the head of the country’s judiciary asking for ‎the observance of law and release of their sons. The families of Majid Tavakkoli, Ehsan ‎Mansouri, and Ahmad Ghassaban wrote in their letter to Ayatollah Shahroudi, “While ‎you do release drug traffickers and dangerous criminals on bail from prisons for the ‎Norooz, we find it difficult to come to terms with your decision not to release our student ‎sons even after they posted their bails.” ‎

Meanwhile, the Committee of Student Reporters of Human Rights warned of the ‎‎“worrisome” condition of a political activist. According to the Committee's report, a ‎Kurdish political activist, Farhad Haj Mirzaei, is still held in Evin’s notorious Ward 209, ‎even though more than two months have passed since his arrest. Haj Mirzaei was ‎arrested on 22 Esfand [March 12] in the Kurdish town of Sanandaj during the crackdown ‎on leftist student activists. After spending a night at the Ministry of Intelligence’s ‎detention facility in Sanandaj, he was transferred to Evin’s Ward 209 and was subjected ‎to severe physical and psychological torture. ‎

The protests over the arrests in the country have continued and last week, a number of ‎political, cultural, student and labor activists and journalists sent an open letter to the ‎head of the judiciary, ayatollah Shahroudi, protesting the “rogue arrests” of political and ‎ideological prisoners. ‎

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