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Iranian students in hi-tech protest

BBC World Service
1/22/01

Students are demanding the release of political prisoners For the first time in the history of the Iranian student movement, a group of students has set up an interactive web site in support of a protest against the detention of political prisoners.

Six members of a prominent pro-reform student group staged a symbolic sit-in outside parliament on Tuesday in support of jailed students and prisoners of conscience.

Demonstrations in Iran require a permit from the Interior Ministry and the students are trying to circumvent this requirement by staging a small sit-in.

The Amir Kabir University akunews web site says it will allow the wider public to demonstrate their support for the student protest via e-mail and the chat room.

Berlin conference

One of the few remaining reformist newspapers in Tehran, Hayat-e Now, said on Tuesday: "For the first time in the history of the student movement, a student association has created the opportunity for dialogue with the people through the internet".

Most reformist newspapers were closed down last year as part of a crackdown by hardliners against supporters of reforms promised by President Mohammad Khatami.

The students said they were protesting against "unjust" prison sentences issued by the Revolutionary Court against activists who had attended a seminar on the future of Iran's reform movement in Berlin last year.

They are also demanding the release of student leader Ali Afshari and veteran politician Ezzatollah Sahabi, who have been transferred from prison to an undisclosed interrogation centre.

Mr Afshari received a five-year sentence and Mr Sahabi four years for attending the Berlin conference.

A report on the Iranian Students News Agency web site said that the sit-in would be continuing "at least until the end of the day" and that the students planned to visit the holy city of Qom south of Tehran in the next few days to convey their protest to senior religious figures.

One message on the akunews web site on Tuesday said: "Today's sit-in by the students of the Central Council is intended to show that the other students will follow up their friends' cases and will not remain silent. It is a good thing to do."

At least ten MPs, including prominent reformers left parliament to meet the student delegation.

A message on the akunews web site said one of the MPs had told the delegation: "If they arrest more reformists the rest of us will carry through the reforms. If they arrest us all, a small number of people will bear the shame of ruling over everyone."

Hayat-e Nou Site: http://www.aria.ws/hayateno
Amir Kabir Student Protest: http://clubs.yahoo.com/clubs/akunews
(for the latter you must register with Yahoo clubs)

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