The Iranian government's closure of a
reformist newspaper triggered student protests on the
In the weeks following the protests, thousands of students were arrested, taken away by the busload, and held in detention centers and prisons. Initially, several students were sentenced to death, but these sentences were later commuted to time in prison. While many of those initially detained were released, an unknown number of student protestors remain in prison.
"Five years after the
On June 7, Human Rights Watch released "Like the Dead in Their Coffins," which documented extensive physical and psychological abuse of political detainees in Iranian prisons. A number of student protestors from the July 1999 protests remain in prison, including Ahmed Batebi, Abbas Fakhravar, Manouchehr Mohammadi, his brother Akbar Mohammadi and Mehrdad Lohrsabi.
Many of the imprisoned students have been brutally tortured in prison, barred from seeing their attorneys, and forced to provide recantations and confessions to the state-controlled media. Many students have suffered permanent physical and psychological injuries while in detention.
In subsequent years, students across the country have commemorated the anniversary of the July 1999 protestors with peaceful demonstrations and public speeches. This year, however, with repression at its highest since 1999, the government's message to students is clear: those who speak out will be detained, punished, and worse.
Ali Taala, the
General Director of Security and Political Affairs at the
"The Iranian government is trying to
sweep the events of July 1999 under the rug," said Whitson. "Instead,
it should allow peaceful commemoration of the
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