05/05/2010, 00.00
IRAN
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Tehran, more arrests of Iranian activists and dissidents

Last weekend the authorities arrested a journalist, a lawyer and a student. She took part in the protests erupted at the university during the surprise visit of President Ahmadinejad. Shrouded in mystery, the fate of the director Jaafar Panahi, Hollywood is mobilized with a letter of protest.

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The regime of the ayatollahs has ordered a new wave of arrests against professors, activists, students and journalists in Iran. The dissident website Rooz Online reports that the recent arrests are an example of the hard line imposed by Tehran against those fighting for democracy and respect for human rights in the Islamic Republic. Meanwhile, the lack of news on the fate of the director Jaafar Panahi has raised concern among family and friends. Even Hollywood is mobilising for his release, with a letter of protest signed by several movie stars.

On May 1 last security forces arrested Maryam Abbasinejad, a student activist and member of the central council of Tehran University Islamic Association. The young woman took part in a staged protests at the surprise visit of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the campus.

Ahmadinejad was speaking at a ceremony commemorating Ayatollah Morteza Motahari, killed in the early years of the Islamic Revolution of '79. He was to make a speech to the faculty of medicine. A group of students sang songs and slogans, including "Death to the dictator", "liberty or death" and "Ya Hossein, Mir. Hossein”.  Maryam Abbasinejad was detained the following night.

On May 2, the authorities imprisoned Mazy Khosro, journalist and director of Ham-Mihan, following a complaint lodged by the legal representative of the University of Tehran, Faculty of Law. The journalist had published a long article about a raid by plainclothes Iranian security forces on the dormitory of the university.

On May 1 Mohammad Olyaifard, lawyer, was arrested.  He is currently detained in Evin prison, north of the capital, to serve a sentence of a year. At first the sentence was suspended.

Meanwhile, there are growing concerns about the film director Jaafar Panahi, whose fate is shrouded in mystery. Friends and family have no news on his health, also a lawyer and close relatives have been denied access to the file opened by the authorities on the dissident director. No judicial officer will answer questions relating to his health conditions.

Sources close to the director, quoted by Rooz, report the interrogation process is over, but he remains imprisoned in the infamous Ward 209, along with three other prisoners. even Hollywood has moved for the release of Jaafar Panahi, with a letter of protest signed by movie stars. Among the signatories Martin Scorsese, Robert Redford, Robert De Niro, Steven Spielberg and Michael Moore.

Finally relatives of Mahdieh Golroo – a student activist - denounce the poor health of the girl being held in Evin prison. The detention regime, they explain, "is a serious threat to her life”. The prison authorities continue to deny permits to medical representatives of the Right to Education Council. The girl suffers from intestinal problems, back pain, injuries to her nose and fever.  

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