Despite the heavy presence of the Iranian regime’s security forces at Tehran University today’s Students’ Day commemoration went ahead as planned. Around 500 students and left-wing activists took part in the event – with just 26 being arrested.
The Iranian regime had taken several desperate measures, including attacking the home of a left-wing student activist two days before the protest(!), in the vain attempt to dampen the students’ and left-wing activists’ morale and to prevent the 16 Azar Students’ Day commemoration from taking place. Yet the changing balance of forces in society – where the progressive, left-wing and anti-regime masses are becoming bolder and the regime’s own base is becoming more demoralised – have meant that another memorable day has been recorded in the long history of Iranian students’ struggle against dictatorship and for social justice.
The regime had thought that by arresting over eight of the organisers before the commemoration rally they would frighten, confuse and cower its remaining ranks. The arrests, however, led to an escalation of this confrontation. Left-wing students and activists from several universities issued a warning to the regime that “all universities from Tehran University to the universities in Shiraz, Tabriz, Mashhad and so on, will be turned into a stage for united protests” if their comrades were not released immediately. They said that they would gather all their forces at the main gate of Tehran University.
The protest started at the appointed time today, 4 December 2007, and the security forces were taken by surprise at how hundreds of students had turned up despite all their threats and harassment. Despite the strict security controls and the climate of intimidation an ‘open tribune’, where any speaker can address the crowd, was created. At least two members of the Radical Left students spoke and their manifesto was read out. However, most of the comrades of the Workers’ Left tendency were arrested before they could read out their manifesto.
Fearful of students’ contact with the general public, the security forces used buses from the Vahed Company to create a barrier between the University and surrounding area, almost obscuring the main gate of the University. Although some clashes with the security forces continued during the meeting an eyewitness said: “The University was red today!”. Even after today’s arrests the activists were determined to continue the agreed programme until the end.
Today’s demonstration clearly shows that the radical and revolutionary traditions of the Iranian students’ movement going back to December 1953 are alive and in good health. The crowd chanted many slogans denouncing the recent arrests and the climate of intimidation and the programme came to an end with a rendition of the Internationale.
In all at least 26 activists have been arrested. They include: Anousheh Azadfar, Mehdi Gerayloo, Alnaz Jamshidi, Ehsan Azadfar, Nader Ahsani, Saeed Habibi, Behrooz Karimizadeh, Keyvan Amiri Elyas, Hossein Babaii, Karim Asayesh, Roozbeh Faghihi, Babak Pashajavid, Mohsen Ghamin, Babak Pasha Javid and Mahsa Mohebi.
Support the arrested students and left-wing activists by sending a protest email based on the model letter.
Report by Militaant, journal of revolutionary socialist youth in Iran.