Friday, June 20, 2008

Jailed Iranian students thank Rome mayor street-name proposal

Rome -Jun 20, 2008

Seven students imprisoned in Iran have sent a letter to Rome's Mayor Gianni Alemanno, thanking him for his proposal to rename a street in the Italian capital in honour of Iranian student activists.

The letter was sent to Alemanno through Rome-based news agency, Adnkronos International (AKI), which published the contents on Friday.

It refers to a statement made by Alemanno last week, welcoming a proposal, made by an Italian Jewish youth group, to rename the street where Iran's embassy in Rome is located: 'July 9th'.

On July 9, 1999 thousands of Iranian students took to the streets to protest the closure of a reformist newspaper, Salam, and battled with riot police and pro-government vigilantes. Many of the students were badly beaten while hundreds were taken into custody.

The letter's co-signatories include, Majid Tavakkoli and Ehsan Mansouri, who are serving sentences of 30 and 22 months respectively, for leading protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he visited a Tehran university in December 2006.

Both say they have been tortured in Tehran's Evin prison which is where the others students, some of them campaigners for Iran's Kurdish minority, are also being held.

In their letter to Alemanno, the students refer to July 9, 1999, as a 'turning point in history for the fight for freedom and against the repression of the Iranian student movement.'

They said the decision to rename the Rome street 'would give new life to those who fight for democracy in Iran.'

'We consider this generous gesture an important step. We hope that this noble gesture can be replicated by other world capitals,' the letter said. (M&C)

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