Darling, don’t got to worry. You’re locked in tight.

December 9, 2009 at 11:13 am (Human Rights)

The college campus: young people laughing and talking, studying on the grassy quad in front of the library, hustling and bustling between classes and groups meetings, and…teargas?

College campuses are usually thought of as places of free thought, free speech, and self-betterment, a place where students can explore themselves and the world around them. The Iranian government, through its reaction to recent student protests in Tehran, have replaced thoughts, opinions, and constructive criticism with violence and oppression.

Students are protesting the methods used and the outcome of this year’s elections of the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. While students just want their thoughts and opinions heard, the government seeks to use violence to keep them quiet. A Tehran University student detailed his anxiety to the Associated Press on December 7th, stating:

“I shout slogans and demonstrate but try not to provoke any clash with the security. We are worried.”

The response from the government…riot police, batons, teargas, and arrests. Systems of communication were shut down, including cell phone networks and social networking sites such as Facebook.

Amnesty International has condemned the Iranian government’s response to the protests and has called for the release of peaceful protestors who are currently being detained. The organization’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa announced this week:

“All those arrested for simply attending today’s demonstrations should be immediately and unconditionally released. The Iranian authorities continue to treat peaceful dissenters as criminals in violation of Iran’s Constitution.”

Students see rallying and protesting as the only means to get a noticed because criticism of the government is not tolerated in Iran. While the government has declared such methods illegal, there are not many alternatives for bringing concerns to the government’s attention.

Ahmadinejad’s main rival from this year’s elections posed the following question:

“Let’s say you suppressed students and silenced them. What will you do with the social realities?”

The government may be able to silence students for the time being, however the issues at hand are still very real and cannot be silenced. Young people in Iran are especially committed to bring change to the country and its government.

As you walk through campus discussing your unique ideas and opinions, remember those throughout the world who are afraid to speak about their concerns, or better yet, those who are punished for caring about the country in which they live.

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