Student struggle in Iran intensifies
December 6 is Student Day in Iran. This is a day when the students’ struggle often takes on a momentum that can continue up to the end of the academic year and beyond. This academic year in Iran has also been one of high tension between Iranian students and the Islamic regime.
In early December, the regime’s Ministry of Information arrested between 30-50 women and men leftist students who were preparing to commemorate Student Day in Tehran and other cities, including Ahvaz and Mazendaran. While the authorities have released no information concerning the whereabouts of those arrested, it is believed that they are being held in Section 29 of Evin Prison (built for political prisoners during the Shah’s rule and still in use by the Islamic regime). This section is notorious for horrific conditions and torture.
Despite the harsh warning these arrests were intended to deliver, a reign of terror by the security forces and other threats and obstacles from the authorities, thousands of students at Tehran University and others all over Iran (such as Alammeh University in Tehran, Isfahan University, Ahvaz University, BuAli University in Hamadan and many others) held events commemorating Student Day marked by anti-government slogans. At Tehran University, students gathered in front of the Engineering Faculty. A message from “student seekers of equality and freedom lovers” was read. Then speakers discussed the situation of the student movement and the suppression it faces. All demanded the immediate release of the imprisoned students.
During these demonstrations, students expressed their opposition to foreign intervention and war and their support for the workers’ and women’s movements, demanded the release of their arrested comrades from these movements, and called for a boycott of the upcoming parliamentary elections. Many women students covered their faces, not as a sign of piety but as a sarcastic form of protest because it would make them harder to identify. One woman covered herself entirely with a burqa, which is not commonly seen in Iran. …………
In order to hide what was going on at the university in that day, the regime surrounded the campus on all sides with two-storey-high buses.
As news of the torture of the arrested students continues to filter out of the prison, students and other revolutionary masses in Iran and outside the country have been intensifying their protests against this criminal act by the Iranian regime.
European campaign in support of the Iranian students
An international day of action in support of the Iran student movement took place on 22 December. It was organized by the Collective of Iranian Students and Youth Living in Europe, the Left Socialist Party of Belgium and that party’s youth organization, and supported by other groups and personalities in Belgium, elsewhere in Europe, Canada and the U.S. In addition to the central action in Brussels, demonstrations occurred in Germany, Denmark, the UK and elsewhere, some in coordination with the Brussels event.
In Brussels, about 140 people protested in front of the US embassy, condemning American intentions to attack Iran and its aggression throughout the region. They shouted “US go home” as well as “Down with the Islamic Republic of Iran”. A photo exhibition gave passers-by a glimpse of the Iranian student movement. Then the protestors moved on to the embassy of the Islamic republic of Iran. People of different nationalities including, Nepalese, Chileans and ex-Yugoslavians as well as Iranians and people from Belgium took part in both demonstrations, adding an international spirit.
A resolution passed by the demonstrators drew a clear demarcation line with the imperialists and against any imperialist intervention in Iran, and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all the imprisoned students.
The role of the student movement in Iran
The Iranian student movement – both in the country and abroad – has played an important role in the Iranian people’s struggle over the last five or six decades.
On 6 December 1953, a few months after the CIA-sponsored coup that overthrew the nationalist government of Mohammad Mossadeq and brought the Shah (king) to power, Richard Nixon, then the US vice president, was met with vigorous student protests when he came to Iran. Three students were killed in an attack on that demonstration by the Shah’s security forces. Every year during the Shah’s regime, protests marked this date as a symbol of both the student struggle and opposition to foreign intervention.
Many older revolutionaries in Europe, the US, Turkey, India and other countries can remember how in the sixties and seventies, Iranian student activists, mainly belonging to the Confederation of Iranian Students, celebrated 6 December by holding demonstrations and other activities, including the occupation of Iranian embassies and other Iranian institutions, often in a battle with police. These activities exposed the crimes of the Shah and his imperialist backers on a world scale. They also built contacts and cooperation with other revolutionary forces in other countries and trained thousands of committed revolutionaries and communists for the revolutionary movement in Iran. Many later became activists and leaders of the communist and leftist organisations and a great number of them gave their lives for the revolutionary movement in Iran and world.
The Islamic regime that replaced the Shah after the revolution was aware of the power and role of the student movement, and did everything it could to suppress it and wipe 6 December from the memories of the students and the people.
But after the brutal suppression of the revolution and the temporary ebb of the student movement, a new generation of youth began to emerge. Leftist ideas also began to regain force among them. Six December once again took its rightful place within the revolutionary student movement. The re-emergence of the student movement has horrified the Islamic regime of Iran, which fears a new generation of communists. That is the main reason they are going after this movement. But the student movement has shown its potential to withstand such attacks in the past. Many Iranian masses support and dearly love the student movement for the role it played in the revolutionary movement and because they see the students and their movement as their children and as the future of the country.Now that foreign intervention and even a US-led war are threatening Iran, the Islamic regime is trying to suppress the people’s struggles in the name of smashing a conspiracy by the country’s enemies. Minister of Information Mohseni Ezheiy officially accused student and women activists of involvement in this conspiracy.
Unfortunately this position has been shared in one way or another by some leftist trends in the West that call on the Iranian masses, including students and women, to put a stop to their struggles against the regime. But the only path to liberation is to continue to fight this reactionary regime while also opposing any foreign intervention or aggression.