College students suspended in Iran for holding memorial for Ukrainian plane victims

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Over a dozen university students were suspended in northwest Iran as punishment for holding a memorial service for the victims of a Ukrainian civilian airliner downed by Iranian missiles over Tehran in January.

The University of Mohaghegh Ardebili said on Wednesday it suspended 15 students for organising a candlelight vigil to honor the victims, saying the students did not have a permit for the event.

The university, located in the city of Ardebil, said another reason why its disciplinary committee decided to punish the students is to “help keep the university’s educational atmosphere healthy.”

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 on January 8, killing all 176 onboard.

Iran admitted to downing the plane after days of denying responsibility and insisting the plane crashed due to a “technical failure.” Following Tehran’s admission, Iranians took to the streets to protest against the regime.

Students in Tehran kicked off the protests by gathering outside their university campuses and chanting against the IRGC and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The Islamic Republic has tried and jailed dozens in connection with the protests. Earlier this month, a court in the city of Mashhad sentenced theatre artist Masoud Hokmabadi to three years in prison.

Hokmabadi was arrested on January 18 after boycotting Iran’s Fajr International Film Festival – an annual state-run festival that takes place on the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution – in protest of the IRGC’s downing of the plane.

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