Many people criticize me for saying that I care about my peers in Iran (I do), and simultaneously advocating a militarily hands-off approach by the United States when it comes to the regime oppressing them.

However, here is one reason why any outside military intervention (by any state) would be a bad idea in Iran.

The Iranian government has gotten 54 students involved in pro-democracy activities expelled from their university in Tehran, and is forcing them into the army.

An Iranian student holds a placard, reading:
Iranian youth activists face boot camp

Robert Tait in Tehran
Thursday March 1, 2007

Guardian Unlimited

Students
involved in an angry protest against the Iranian president, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, have been expelled and earmarked for compulsory military
service, in an apparent act of official retribution.

Authorities
at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University, a traditional hotbed of student
protest, have ended the studies of 54 students, ostensibly for
repeatedly failing their exams.

However,
most of the students singled out are political activists who took part
in December’s demonstration at the university at which president
Ahmadinejad was greeted with chants of "death to the dictator". Many
students with equally poor academic records have been allowed to
continue, activists said.

The
demonstration, which sparked violent clashes between protesters and
Basij volunteers loyal to the president, was triggered by student anger
over a campus clampdown by the government.

One
activist displayed a banner reading: "Fascist president, the
polytechnic is not for you." Others held portraits of Mr Ahmadinejad
upside down and set them alight. One student had his nose broken by a
cabinet minister’s aide and a member of Mr Ahmadinejad’s security team
fired a stun grenade to disperse demonstrators.

Several protesters later went into hiding, fearing for their lives after being threatened by the president’s supporters.

Mr
Ahmadinejad later announced that the dissenting students should go
unpunished. Ali Azizi, vice-secretary of the Islamic Students
Committee, said the wave of expulsions broke that pledge.

"Many
of the expelled students are political activists and were present at
the protests … It demonstrates revenge against the students’ protests
… In the past, questions over academic performance have not [been]
considered reason for expulsion. Students with even worse academic
records exist among student organisations supported by the government
but they have not faced expulsion."

The
university chancellor, Ali Reza Rahai, an ally of Mr Ahmadinejad ,
accompanied the expulsion orders by signing eligibility notices
allowing the students to be enlisted into the armed forces.

That
effectively makes good a threat by Mr Ahmadinejad that he would arrange
for students with three stars under the university’s disciplinary code
to be enrolled as army sergeants. This system has been extensively used
to punish those involved in political activities on campus.

The
protest against Mr Ahmadinejad was also related to moves to segregate
female and male students, the closure of campus magazines and the
demolition of buildings belonging to the students committee. Campus
guards were also ordered to refuse admission to women wearing makeup
and "too short" coats.

These students are our peers. We should find some way of showing them peaceful solidarity. Ideas?

Advertisements