Student Activist Cases Supporting the Special Rapporteur’s March 2013 Report
This supplement provides documented cases of detained student activists that served as part of the basis of Dr. Shaheed’s March 2013 report presented to the UN Human Rights Council. The documentation is based on primary interviews and secondary research conducted for the March 2013 report (Click here for the full report supplement).
February 28, 2013
VI. Student Activists
39. Ismaeil Jalilvand was a student and social activist who has been arrested four times and was eventually expelled in 2011 for his activities. He was arrested on 4 February 2009, was charged with “acting against national security”, “disturbing public opinion”, “insulting the Supreme Leader and the President”, and “propagation against the State” within 24 hours of his arrest. He maintained that he spent 11 days in solitary confinement, and was interrogated seven to eight times, for up to six hours each time, while blindfolded. He was eventually fined and released. There was no trial. Mr. Jalilvand was arrested again four months later on 20 June 2009. He reported that he was detained by the Ministry of Intelligence for 30 days, that he didn‘t have access to a lawyer, was blindfolded during the interrogations, and that he was convicted on charges of “insulting Government officials”, “acting against national security”, “propagation against the Islamic Republic”, “disturbing public opinion, and “insulting the Supreme Leader and the President”. He stated that he was asked to defend himself and that his trial lasted one hour. He is currently released from prison and has left the country.
40. On 10 February 2010 Ali Ajami was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence for his involvement in the 2009 post-election protests. He spent five days in solitary confinement at a Revolutionary Guard office without access to a lawyer. He was transferred to Evin Prison, where he spent 40 days in solitary confinement and was officially charged with “publicizing false information,” “acting against national security,” “propagation against the state,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader.” At Evin Prison he was repeatedly interrogated about his student publications and online activities for up to eight hours per day, while blindfolded. During these interrogations he was repeatedly beaten and punched, made to stand for long periods of time, and his family threatened. Mr. Ajami reported that in court the judge denied his request for a lawyer and that he was only able to see a lawyer on the day of his hearing. After an appeal he was sentenced to two years in Rajaei Shahr Prison for “propaganda against the state” and “acting against national security.” During his imprisonment he faced extremely poor prison conditions, including severe abuse by prison officials. The deputy director of the prison allegedly hit Mr. Ajami so severely in the ear that it caused bleeding and a torn eardrum. After eventually being released, Mr. Ajami received a letter from the university stating that he was banned from continuing his education.
41. Amin Riahi is a student activist, and his parents were also politically active in the 80’s and targeted by authorities. He was ﬁrst arrested in 2004 when he was 16 and was beaten and held by ofﬁcials for one day. He has been arrested several times for his involvement in protests and his political activism. He was convicted of “propaganda against the regime”, “insulting the Supreme Leader”, and “participation in opposition groups” in 2008. The liberal journal he was heading at school was shut down and seized, and he was suspended from university for a semester. He reported that during the elections in 2009 he was constantly summoned to court for his suspected political activities. Mr. Riahi stated that during this time, hundreds of students were arrested, including over 100 from his university. He was suspended again from university and reported that he was shown his ﬁle, which contained false grades. At the end of 2010 he maintained that was summoned to court again, and held in hand and ankle cuffs. He was notiﬁed that he had a one-year prison sentence, which was suspended. He has since left the country.
42. The source has been targeted for his political and blogging activities and has a history of arrests. He reported that while working as a photojournalist for a reformist newspaper, he received a verbal warning from the Intelligence Ministry and a written warning from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. In 2001, the source began working with the ofﬁce of a reformist Ayatollah. He reported being arrested and found guilty for distributing CDs of the Ayatollah’s speeches in 2002, and was sentenced to a three year suspended prison term and a ﬁne. He was allegedly arrested without a warrant, denied access to a lawyer, and was not informed of the charges until the court date (“propagating falsehoods against government authorities through the distribution of illegal CDs against authorities”). He organized a student protest at school during the 2009 election protests. On 7 December 2009 he was arrested by his university’s security unit, which is staffed by Ministry of Intelligence ofﬁcials. He was suspended for three terms on the charge of blasphemy. In 2012 the source was arrested without a warrant and taken into solitary conﬁnement. He was interrogated for three days, and alleged that he was beaten during this time. After three days, he was charged by the investigative judge with “propaganda against the regime and supporting enemy political groups”. He reported that he was interrogated daily, with some sessions lasting until 10PM. He was released on US100,000 bail but then summoned back to court soon after and charged with “propagating against the Islamic regime through publishing false news and inviting people to illegal demonstrations” and “assembly and collusion for committing a crime against national and international security through participation in the [election protest] events.” The source stated that he had no lawyer during the trial, or at any other time in detention. He was found guilty of “Propagating Against the Regime” and sentenced to one year in prison, which was then suspended, and was banned from blogging as a condition of release. The Intelligence ofﬁce continued to repeatedly call and contact him after his release. His brother was summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence in March of 2012. He has since left the country.
43. Vahid Abedini is a student activist who is banned from continuing his education at the doctoral level. The source reported that Abedini ranked ﬁrst on the national entrance exam for graduate school. However, when he wanted to register for classes, he was asked by the university administration to a sign pledge that he would no longer continue to be a student activist. The source reported that Abedini never breached the terms of his pledge for the duration of graduate school. The source maintained that after Abedini completed the national entrance exam for his PhD, at his oral interview with Tehran University the professors informed him that he was one of their brightest candidates. However, the source stated that an ofﬁcial from the Gozinesh Committee told him that the Ministry of Intelligence had not clariﬁed his status yet. The source reported that one year later he decided to take the national entrance exam again and to apply to a different university, Tarbiat Modares, but this time the Sanjesh Organization sent him a letter and informed that he had been rejected, even though a professor on the panel told him after his interview that there was a large margin in quality between him and the runner-up. The interviewee reported that when he went to the Sanjesh Organization, the head of the ofﬁce told Abedini that the Ministry of Intelligence had put his name on the list of students unconditionally banned from continuing education [the “starred” list]. The interviewee stated that in 2003, the Press Court charged Abedini with “propagating against the state” and “disturbing public opinion” for writing articles against the death sentence of a university professor, Hashem Aghajari, and that he was sentenced to one year in prison. The interviewee reported that at the Tehran Appeals Court his sentenced was suspended for two years.