Iranian student protesters face expulsion

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Iranians at a human rights demonstration (not the actual demonstration in the article)

Students who protested when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Amirkabir University of Technology (also called Amir Kabir University) on December 11, 2006 have been expelled and eligibility notices, allowing the students to be enlisted into the armed forces, were sent out with the signature of university chancellor Ali Reza Rahai, the Guardian reports.

54 students were expelled and most of them were a part of the protest, which included chants of "Death to the dictator." The official reason for the expulsions is that the students failed multiple tests. Activists, however, claim that other students with similarly poor academic records have been allowed to continue their studies.

Ahmadinejad was cited as saying that dissenting students would go unpunished. "It is my honour to burn for the sake of the nation's ideals and defend the system," he said as protesters burned a picture of him.

To members of the Islamic Students Committee, the expulsions break Ahmadinejad's public pledge that none of them would be harmed for speaking out. Said vice-secretary Ali Azizi, "It demonstrates revenge against the students' protests."

There was a report in February that students who had been expelled were re-admitted. Kyrgyzstan's news agency Adnkronos International (AKI), reported that Abbas Hakimzadeh, said that the re-admission was a "victory of the students' movement."

It remains unclear if the expulsions reported by Robert Tait of Guardian Unlimited is reporting a new expulsion, a re-expulsion, or simply old news.

A "star rating" system has been introduced since Ahmadinejad's presidency began. It supposedly ranks politically active students from one star up to three stars, relative to the perceived threat they pose. Prospective students with one star have been asked to sign a statement that they would not join any political activities. Applicants with two stars are said to have enrollment delayed by months, and applicants with three stars would be barred admission to a university.

Amir Kabir University is one of the universities in Tehran from which the 1979 Islamic Revolution drew much of its support.