Iran erupts on student day; and workers have their say
YESTERDAY was Student Day in Iran, and though it was supposed to be an officially recognised day commemorating the anniversary of a murder of a student by the Shah’s security forces during President Nixon’s visit in 1953, this year the Islamicist rulers, rightly fearing it would be turned against them, deployed police and so-called "Revolutionary Guards", or Pasdaran, in an attempt to contain the demonstrations on campus, and keep them off the streets.
Foreign reporters were banned, but in these days of mobiles, videos and the internet it proved impossible for the regime to conceal what was happening. Here were some of the scenes:
The resistance to Ahmadinejad's 'victory' last Summer may have seemed to peter out, but if anything the fact that official opposition leaders backed down has strengthened and unleashed the forces for real change, those who want to get rid of the whole regime rather than merely changing figureheads.
According to the Freedom and Equality seeking Students, " Possibly millions of students, youth and workers took to the streets in protests against the regime and the barbaric repression since the rigged June elections. Though hard to confirm, today’s protests could be the biggest since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Protests have taken place in Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad, Arak, Karaj, Orumieh, Kerman, Rasht, Shiraz, Ahvaz, Kermanshah and Hamedan and there have been reports of soldiers protesting at Qom Airbase. Protestors carried Iranian flags that omitted the Allah sign showing that the movement is moving beyond the slogans of the June protests".
"In preperation for these demonstrations the regime formed lines of police, Basij (pro-government militia) and Pasdaran around the universities, squares and monuments in the major cities. The government also attempted to limit internet access with up-to 50% of attempts to connect failing, however, the regime failed to stop the flood of information that is now on hundreds of blogs, twitter and news sites. The mobile phone network was also shut down in central Tehran and limited in other parts of the city. At one point the Basij were scene frantically searching computer rooms at Tehran Polytechnic University in an attempt to stop pictures and videos coming out. Protestors managed to organise the protests and relay information of road blocks etc through the internet and land lines in defiance of the government. Once again the Iranian youth has shown the world that the state cannot keep a lid on protests and unrest.
"On the streets the state repressive forces backed up by militia assaulted and arrested protestors but were met with courage and defiance.
"At Hamedan University two students were thrown from the second floor by Basij scum, reports indicate that both students have sustained severe injuries. There were also heavy clashes between students and security forces here. At the hospitals in Tehran police with dogs prevented injured protestors from entering, arrested and attacking people who looked like protestors. At Amir Kabir University students were savagely beaten by security forces, where a prominent student leader; Majid Tavakoli was arrested. At the Medical College in Tehran Basij thugs attempted to break up a demonstration beating several students, there were reports of some badly injured protestors at this demonstration. At the Polytechnic University students clashed with the police and managed to repel them for a time shouting “Marg Bar Khamanei” (Down with Khamanei!) as the focus of popular anger shifts from Ahmadinejad and onto the Supreme Leader and the entire Islamic Republic. At Razi University in Kermanshah militia and police had a massive presence but failed to stop the student demonstration.
"At Sanati University in Isfahan in Kermanshah student protests were attacked by security forces. Professors at Beheshti University joined with the 2,000 strong protest to scenes of massive cheering and chants of ‘Death to the Dictator’. In Kurdistan students burned images of Khomanei and Khamanei in the University, they were also protesting the murder of socialist fighter Ehsan Fattahian who was executed on the 11th November. There were protests and clashes at Azad Shahrkord University, Elm o Sanat University, Sharif University, Azad University of Mashhad, Azad University of Najafabad, Sanati University in Isfahan, Hormozgan University, University of Zanjan, Yasooj University and others. School students have also taken part in the demonstrations, at a high school for girls in Tehran they gathered and chanted slogans".
On a smaller scale than the student actions, but perhaps of more coming significance, workers too were making their views known:
A Statement by Iran Khodro Car Workers – December 6 2009
Fellow workers and friends,
During the last few days tens of workers, students and grieving mothers [a reference to mothers of young people killed following protest gatherings on December 4] have been arrested and sent to jail. Many of our colleagues and fellow workers are in prison. Tens of students, who are our children and our allies, are incarcerated. Mothers have been held. The government is closing its eyes to reality and arresting anyone they want. The country is under the grip of security forces and people do not even have the right to gather in a public park.
- In which country is it illegal to demand payment of unpaid wages?
- In which country is it forbidden to go to a park or to climb mountains? [The regime has banned students from climbing in case they organise political meetings under the guise of mountain climbing]
- What is the crime of our grieving mothers?
- In which country is it illegal to form workers’ organisations?
Fellow workers, how dare they be so shameless? We must protest! The situation created by the government is unbearable. Freedom is a basic right of all human beings
Long live freedom!
Group of Iran Khodro Workers
Translated and distributed by Hands Off the People of Iran
Thanks to Manchester University student Chris Stafford of HOPI for compiling the students reports, and
to Yassamine for translating the workers' statement.