In a written statement, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says that the United States remains “concerned by the Iranian regime’s continued repression of academic freedom and assault on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”
When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Columbia University in September, he said that universities should be places where freedom of expression can flourish. Since then, says Mr. McCormack, “dozens of Iranian students have been detained, professors replaced, and freedom of expression severely curtailed on university campuses throughout Iran.”
Following demonstrations at universities in several Iranian cities on Student Day, December 7th, there were many arrests. The families of most of the detained men and women have not been allowed to communicate with them. “The U.S calls on the Iranian regime to release the detained students and to guarantee fundamental freedoms for all citizens,” says State Department spokesman McCormack.
There are reports of additional protests by students in Iran, including at the University of Isfahan and the Industrial University of Isfahan. At Bushehr University, the student council is demanding that imprisoned students be freed.
Vice President Dick Cheney commented on the courage of Iranians who insist on their rights in spite of brutal repression by the Iranian government:
“The spirit of freedom is stirring in Iran. The voices of change and peaceful dissent will not be silent.”
“These men and women are more loyal to their country than to the regime,” said Mr. Cheney. “The Iranian people can know that America respects them. . . .and stands firmly on the side of liberty, human dignity and individual rights.”