The students paying the price for Ahmadinejad’s arrogance

Because we haven’t forgotten about the Islamic Republic’s barbarism:

Bahareh Hedayat belongs to another group of Iranians that has been among the most active in the protests, most brave in its defiance, and most repressed by the state’s basij militia and other official thugs: she is a student leader, arrested (as she had been in 2007 and after the June election) on 31 December 2009 and held since in Tehran’s Evin prison. Bahareh is not alone and I write of her merely as an example of many other conscientious activists who have endured staggering hardship in these epic months.

Bahareh… is an elected representative of the traditionally male-dominated Tahkim Vahdat, the national student union formed after a decree issued by Ayatollah Khomeini at the dawn of the 1979 revolution.… It gradually acquired legitimacy by conducting free elections in which Iran’s entire student population voted; it thus evolved into an independent, pro-democracy organisation and one of the state’s most vocal critics.

Bahareh’s interrogation, which had kept her in isolation from her fellow-prisoners, ended in March 2010. But as further punishment she was transferred from Evin’s section 209 (for “political” detainees) to section 350 (a women’s unit); a high-security section which houses those convicted of drug-trafficking…  and murder among other tough crimes.

Iranian prisoners in certain categories qualify for the right to make one three-minute telephone-call per week. For Bahareh, the natural day to make contact with the outside world was 6 April: both her 29th birthday and her wedding anniversary. Her husband Ahmad Aminian, her family and friends and a group of her student-union colleagues gathered in her small flat to wait for the call. Bahareh did call that evening – and was able to talk for as long as she wanted, for her hardened fellow-inmates had turned over to her their own precious allocation.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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