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Iran student leader held

Tehran, June 26 (AFP): An Iranian student leader, Abdollah Momeni, was seized in Tehran yesterday by unidentified men in plainclothes, another student said today.

Momeni is secretary of the Office to Consolidate Unity (OCU), the main reformist student group, which has been involved in recent protests against the Islamic regime.

“Abdollah Momeni was arrested by men in plainclothes while he was with other students at the entrance to the teacher training college,” the student, who declined to be identified, said. “He was handcuffed and taken away in a white car,” adding that other students were threatened when they tried to intervene. The OCU says scores of students were arrested in the wake of the recent demonstrations, and ahead of the July 9 anniversary of student protests which shook the country in 1999. The latest June 10-20 unrest saw a small protest at Tehran University over government education policy snowball into 10 days of countrywide anti-regime demonstrations and clashes.

Iran’s judiciary, a bastion of hardliners, has asserted that only a tiny proportion of those arrested were students and the majority of detainees were “hooligans”. Deputy higher education minister Gholam Reza Zarifian put the total number of students in the hands of Iranian intelligence at 80, including 32 arrested in Tehran, adding the government was working to secure the release of those who had committed no offences.

Iran’s reformist-controlled parliament has set up a five-member committee to meet students detained, and has called on families to provide the names of any missing students, press reports said yesterday.

On Sunday, student activists staged a sit-in outside the Iranian parliament, demanding the release of classmates held and issuing a stern warning of further tensions if they were ignored by the Islamic republic's clerical leaders.

At least 1,000 people were arrested during the demonstrations, which were marked by the shouting of virulent slogans against Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and clashes between protestors and hardline vigilantes.

But in a bid to ease the tensions, vigilantes were also targetted by police following a string of violent attacks inside Tehran university.

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