Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Iran makes arrests for "illegal" university meeting

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's Intelligence Ministry said on Saturday it had detained several people who were planning an "illegal gathering" at Tehran University, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The ministry said "anti-government groups" had urged those detained, who it said carried fake student ID cards, to hold the rally "to create conflict, disturbances and unrest".

The ministry said it had also confiscated items including "insulting" publications, firecrackers and a large amount of alcohol, which is banned in the Islamic Republic. It gave no further details.

Liberal-minded students and academics have criticised President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for clamping down on dissent on campuses. The president and his government insist they support free speech and welcome constructive opposition.

Last month, a group of students gathered at Tehran University to protest against the detention of three fellow students who were picked up during a small demonstration at another Iranian university a week earlier.

Student protests have been relatively rare in recent years in Iran, which is embroiled in a nuclear row with the United States and is often criticised by Western rights groups for cracking down on dissent at home.

But in October, more than 100 students scuffled with police and hard-line supporters of Ahmadinejad on the campus of Tehran University outside a hall where the president was about to speak.

(Reporting by Reza Derakhshi; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Caroline Drees)

No comments: