Student Activist Jailed for Speaking Out
Majid Tavakkoli may spend more than eight years in prison for simply criticizing the government.
The student leader was arrested and reportedly beaten by authorities on December 7, 2009, after he addressed a crowd at Amir Kabir University of Technology in Tehran.
Amnesty International considers Majid Tavakkoli to be a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.
Majid Tavakkoli, who studied shipbuilding at the university, was a member of the Islamic Students’ Association, which represented students’ interests and concerns. The protest on December 7, 2009 took place on National Student Day. The university rally was one of many anti-government protests that followed the disputed presidential election of June 2009.
After an unfair trial that his lawyer was not permitted to attend, Majid Tavakkoli was convicted of several offenses, including “participating in an illegal gathering,” “propaganda against the system” and “insulting officials.”
From January until the end of May 2010, he was held mainly in solitary confinement.
In June 2010, he was moved to Section 350 of Evin prison, where conditions are said to be very poor. In August 2010, authorities transferred him to Raja’i Shahr prison, which is used to house violent criminals. Majid Tavakkoli is suffering from a respiratory condition that has worsened since his arrest. He needs urgent medical care and his health is likely to deteriorate further if he does not receive specialist medical care.
The day after Majid Tavakkoli’s arrest, a news agency close to the government published photographs of Mr. Tavakkoli wearing women’s clothing, and said he had been wearing them at the time of his arrest to escape detection. Others denied that he was wearing the clothes at the time, and claimed that authorities forced him to wear them afterwards to humiliate him. In response, hundreds of Iranian men protested by posting on the internet photos of themselves wearing head scarves in solidarity with Majid Tavakkoli.