London-based human rights advocacy group Amnesty International and New-York based Human Rights Watch called for the release of student protesters who were arrested five years ago during and after the pro-democracy student uprising. RadioFarda Newsroom - July 8, 2004 – “Five years after the Tehran University protests, it's time for the Iranian government to release the peaceful protesters," Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch said in a statement issued on Thursday, marking the fifth anniversary of the largest pro-democracy uprising since the 1979 revolution.
“This year the level of crackdown is even greater than that of 1999,” HRW’s London-based spokesman Urmi Shaw tells Radio Farda’s broadcaster Golnaz Esfandiari. “The Iranian government is trying to forget the July 9 events. It is threatening any potential protestor with long-term jail sentences and worse,” she adds.
“The government also needs to hold plainclothes militia accountable for the attacks on students that year,” HRW’s statement said, referring to July 8, 1999, when uniformed police and plainclothes security policemen raided Tehran University student dorms, beating the students and trapping many in their rooms. The demonstrations spread to other major cities and lasted for a week, before being crushed by police and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Basij unit.
London-based Amnesty International on Thursday renewed its call for an independent and impartial judicial review of the trials of demonstrators convicted after their arrest during the July 9, 1999 student-led demonstrations. The human rights advocacy organization also called on the Islamic government authorities to investigate allegations of torture ensure that anyone found responsible for torturing detained protestors is brought to justice.
“Immediately release all those found to have been imprisoned solely for the expression of their conscientiously held beliefs,” AI asked the judiciary in a statement complete with a detailed account of the events leading to the uprising, which began with the closing of the morning daily Salam.
Human Rights Watch has issued several reports based on its on-site investigation about the attack, uprising and the crackdown that followed. It accused the Islamic government authorities of torturing many imprisoned students and preventing them from seeing their lawyers.
Of the thousands detained by the police, the IRGC and the intelligence ministry following the uprising, many were released, but “an unknown number of students protesters remain in prison,” HRW said.
“Amnesty International has been campaigning on behalf of students who have been convicted and imprisoned after trials which failed to meet international fair trial standards,” AI’s statement said.
“The anniversary of the beginning of the 1999 protests is usually accompanied by student demonstrations against the country's hard-line authorities, which are controlled by ruling conservative Shiite Muslim clerics,” the Associated Press reports in a dispatch from Cairo. “Subsequent protests marking the 1999 demonstrations, which were the biggest and most violent anti-government action since the 1979 Islamic revolution that installed the Islamic regime, have been met by crackdowns by Iranian authorities.”