Student Day; praising a continuous struggle for freedom

December 7 in Iran is marked as the Student Day. It commemorates the anniversary of three Tehran University students who fall for freedom; Ghandchi, Shariat-Razavi, and Bozorg-Nia, by the Shah’s forces.

During the Iran National Oil Movement, led by Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian students played a significant role in support of the movement. InAugust 1953, Dr. Mossadegh, the legitimate Prime Minister, was ousted by a coup, led by the United States and the United Kingdom. After that gloomy summer of 1953, and with the start of the new academic year, the university students resumed their activities against the coup and the regime of the Shah who had forcefully silenced the opposition forces.

On the eve of Richard Nixon’s visit to Iran, Tehran was under martiallaw, but In spite of the heavy atmosphere of suppression, the students staged their anti-regime demonstration at Tehran University campus. The Shah’s forces opened fire on the crowd, three students were killed and several more were badly wounded.

To praise this struggle and resistance, December 7 became Iran’s Student Day and the universities became the bastion of freedom. This event, December 7, ”Student Day”, sparked the creation of a student movement that has always had a significant effect on the socio-political life of Iran.  Those martyrs paved the way for the pioner organizations which rose from universities, gained popular support and fought for freedom. Their fights and sacrifices encouraged people to stand up and overthrow the Shah.

Although Khomeini hijacked the leadership of the anti-monarchy revolution in 1979, the universities in Iran did not submit. After a year, when Khomeini realized that he could not exercise his hegemony on the universities, he resorted to a plot and under the pretext of “cultural revolution” steeped the universities in blood. In his speech on April 21, 1980, Khomeiniattested that the economic siege and military invasion did not terrify his regime, but they are the colonial universities which threaten it.

Following Khomeini’s speech, the thugs swarmed the universities. By April 22, 1980, seventeen students were killed and another 2180 were wounded. The universities were shut down for three years. Khomeini reopened the universities only when he established his medieval apparatus there, which included inquisition, spying, and suppression. He also allocated 40% of the university quota to the members of the repressive organs of the regime. The regime showed no mercy at the universities and the academics. Many university students and professors were arrested and some of them were executed later. Many other noble professors either stopped working or were forced to leave the country for refusing the reactionary rules and regulations that Khomeini’s regime has imposed on the universities. The regime even tried to usurp theStudent Day and to change its real concept.

 But the students have never given up their struggle for freedom.

A young woman raises her fist aloft as Iranian students clash with riot police in Tehran

July 9, 1999; the unprecedented student uprising

While the regime was enjoying the windfall concessions of the First Gulf War, and showcasing itself as a stable political system with its, the so-called reformist President, Mohammad Khatami, the anger brewing beneath the surface in the society could not long be contained. The world was staggered by the Iranian students’ protests against the suppression.

The protests began on the eve of July 9, 1999, after a peaceful demonstration by a group of students of Tehran University.

On that evening, some 400 plainclothes paramilitaries attacked the students at the dormitory. Several students were thrown off the balconies. Some were killed. More than 300 were wounded, and thousands were detained in the following days.

Both regime’s factions were involved in the bloody crackdown of the students. Iran student protests, in July 1999, unmasked the so-called reformist, Khatami, and proved that reformists and hardliners are alike when it comes to the survival of the theocratic regime. There is no solution from within the regime for the troubled society of Iran.

During the uprising of January 2017 and its continuation in 2018, thousands of students and graduates were arrested.

Indeed, the Universities’ history under both dictatorial regimes of Shah and Velayat-e faqih has been marked by resistance and sacrifice for freedom.

From December 7, 1953 (the Student Day) up to now, the Iranian students have been deeply involved in the battle for freedom. Their motto, they have always cried, is: “Down with the principle of the Velayat-e Faqih”, “students may die, but will not bow down!”

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