Iranian Students Continue Protests Over Campus Bus Crash

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Hundreds of students of Iran’s Azad University have protested for a second day, demanding that university officials resign over a bus crash that killed and injured more than two dozen students.

Borna, the Sports and Youth Ministry’s news agency, reported that protesters on December 30 demanded the resignation of Ali-Akbar Velayati, the chairman of the university’s board of trustees.

Protesters carried photos of victims of the December 25 crash in northwestern Tehran that killed 10 students and injured 27 others.

The bus was carrying 30 students along a mountainous road within the university’s science and research branch campus when it drove off the road and hit a concrete column.

University officials initially blamed the crash on the driver having a stroke. The coroner’s office later denied that claim.

Many students and others have instead pointed to the university’s aging bus fleet and poor maintenance and have demanded new vehicles be purchased.

They also called for an emergency center to be set up on the campus and for guard rails to be erected along the road where the accident occurred.

Several midlevel managers were fired after the accident and some arrests were reported, according to the semiofficial ISNA news agency.

Visiting the protesting students, Prosecutor-General Mohammad-Jafar Montazeri called for calm and vowed to investigate the case personally and punish those responsible, "if they were found guilty."

Iran has one of the world’s highest number of deaths caused by road accidents.

The reimposition of U.S. sanctions has reportedly hampered efforts to modernize Iran’s public-transport fleet.

Foreign companies, including vehicle makers Peugeot and Renault, left the country because of the sanctions.

Iran in 2018 saw many small protests grow into nationwide mass street demonstrations.

In midsummer, growing public anger over high inflation, economic hardship, and widespread led to sporadic street protests in Tehran and other cities, with the demonstrators chanting antigovernment slogans.

With reporting by AFP, IRNA, ISNA, and RFE/RL’s Radio Farda

News – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

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