This year Iran's clerical regime marked the anniversary of a brutal government attack on university students in familiar fashion. It sent security forces to beat up and arrest student demonstrators.
The original attack took place on July 9th, 1999. Police and government-sanctioned vigilantes raided a dormitory at Tehran University, killing one student and injuring at least twenty more. The attack sparked six days of nation-wide protests. Hundreds of people were arrested. It was the worst unrest in the country since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
This year security forces violently broke up a demonstration at Amir Kabir University in Tehran and arrested six students. They were part of a sit-in marking the July 9th anniversary and protesting the imprisonment of fellow students. Several students were arrested in December 2006 after chanting anti-government slogans during a speech given at the university by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
On July 9th, security forces also broke into the Tehran headquarters of Iran's largest pro-democracy student group, the Office for Fostering Unity, and arrested seven people.
The crackdown on students by the Iranian government is part of an ongoing campaign of repression under President Ahmadinejad. Professors, journalists, women's rights activists, and union leaders have all been targeted in the government's attempt to silence dissent.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack commented on the difficulties faced by the Iranian people:
"They still suffer from the fact that they are not able to freely express their legitimate opinions in a peaceful manner. . . .Rights that are commonplace around the world are regularly trampled upon by this Iranian government. You can see in a variety of different ways some of the discontent of the Iranian people with this situation. You still have protests on a variety of political and economic matters."
Mr. McCormack says that the United States will continue to speak out about the lack of basic rights in Iran.