Friday, December 4, 2009

Activist Salman Sima's arbitrary detention, broken ribs: When students become 'threats to national security'

Student activist Salman Sima was arrested outside his home in the early hours of November 4, 2009. Security agents had been lying in wait for the Azad University student who had stayed away from the apartment for several days.

The regime has been rounding up student activists and leaders in a desperate attempt to prevent widespread protests planned for December 7, Student Day in Iran. (NB Student Day in Iran is different from International Student Day which is on November 17. Student Day in Iran is December 7 -- 16th of the Iranian month of Azar -- and, while celebrating student activism in general, it is also a commemoration of the slaying of three Tehran University students by the Shah's police in 1953, shortly after the coup that brought the Shah back to power.)

Salman Sima is a member of the Advareh Tahkimeh Vahdat, the national alumni association. The Advar is an associate organization of the Daftareh Tahkimeh Vahdat, the Office to Consolidate Unity, which is Iran's largest student organization.

Sima spent 34 days in solitary confinement last year and was released on $60,000 bail in early August 2008. He had been arrested in early July 2008, prior to demonstrations marking the 9th anniversary of the student uprising and regime crackdown of July 9, 1999.

Sima graduated with a degree in industrial engineering from the Azad University - South Tehran Branch and is currently a graduate student in energy economics at Azad University - Central Tehran Branch. As an undergraduate student, he published Sokhaneh Tazeh (New Comment) newspaper which was subsequently banned. After organizing a December 7 ceremony in 2006, he was deprived of the right to study for two semesters and was forced to relocate to Azad University - Karaj. But in Karaj, he was instrumental in organizing another December 7 event in 2008, the only such ceremony in a university in Tehran province that year.

Sima's sister was interviewed by the Voice of America on December 2. The following is the video and translation of the interview:

VOA anchor Setareh Derkhshesh:
Over 15 students remain in detention in the days leading up to Student Day on Monday. Salman Sima is one of them. He was arrested because of his activities in Azad University. His family, who finally managed to see him 20 days after his arrest, said that he was beaten in prison to such a degree that his ribs were broken. Arash Sigarchi spoke to Saedeh Sima, his sister, by telephone.

Saedeh Sima:
...November, he was arrested in front of the house. Several people came upstairs with Salman and searched his room for an hour. They took a computer and several CDs. Whet we know, what they told us, is that he is in wing 209 of Evin prison.

Arash Sigarchi:
Why was he arrested?

Saedeh Sima:
There's no particular reason. The warrant cited acts against national security. But I think that Salman, like his friends who are in prison, is simply a freedom-seeker who has been active for the cause of liberty. In a country which is a dictatorship and whose government comes to power through a coup d'├ętat, freedom-seekers and political activists who struggle for freedom have no place but prison. I hope that all political prisoners, particularly these students who have been arrested on the eve of December 7 (NB Student Day), are freed.

Arash Sigarchi:
Have you taken any legal steps and have these been effective?

Saedeh Sima:
Yes, we've taken many steps. We went to the Revolutionary Court... But they haven't given us any proper answers.