Monday, December 28, 2009

Iran: Power slipping to streets

From In Defense of Marxism.

Iran: Power slipping to streets
by Babak Kasrayi
Monday, 28 December 2009

Over the last few days, mass demonstrations have erupted again in Iran. Millions are on the streets and there are reports of the people taking control of the streets, burning down police stations and even of police refusing to fire on demonstrators. These could be the last days of the hated IRI regime. If a revolutionary leadership were present, the hours of the Islamic Republic would be counted. We publish this article with lots of eyewitness reports from the ground.

A year ago it would have been impossible to believe or even think about it, but as this article goes to print, the power of Islamic Regime is being eroded in Iran and the power is slipping to streets under the massive pressure of people. The equation is simple: millions of people are on streets and there is just not enough police and military forces to contain them.

December 26 and 27 this year was concurrent with the traditional Shiite days of mourning, Tasoa and Ashoora. Shiite Muslims traditionally mourn on these days to commemorate Imam Hossein, a grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed on “Ashoora”. However, like any other religious tradition it has been generally treated like a street carnival by masses. This year, in the midst of a revolutionary movement that started six months ago and has shook Iranian society to its foundations, people had decided to use it as a day of protests. It was therefore for some time generally acknowledged that December 26 and 27 will be days of massive protest.
Another very important development is some reports that show a number of forces have refused to shoot people, dismissing orders from their commanders. A report from [JRS] (Green Way Movement network), one of the most credible news sources, said:
“ [JRS] correspondent reports that clashes all over Tehran are intensifying and police has lost control of many neighborhoods. Military commanders have asked their forces in central Tehran to use direct shooting to disperse demonstrators. But forces are refusing the command, causing disputes between forces and commanders.”
A [JRS] correspondent present around Enqelab Square clashes says: “After this dispute, one of the guards said: ‘I will never kill the people of my own country’, he was then slapped by his commander who threatened him with martial court.” (Special Guard Forces Refuse to Shoot People).

Read the complete report here ...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Iran: Students Protest with Detainees' Families

Translation of a report from Pezhvak website. Read the original in Persian - plus a list of 19 additional names of the detainees of the Student Day protests - here.

Students Support Protests by Detainees' Families
Pezhvak; Monday, December 14, 2009

According to reports received by Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran, the families of those arrested on 16 Azar / Dec. 7 [Student Day] held a gathering in front of the Revolutionary Court building [in Tehran], to protest the arrests of their loved ones and to demand their immediate and unconditional release.

On Monday, December 14, from 9:00 AM, more than 150 people, families of the detainees, most of whose relatives were arrested on December 7, gathered in protest in front of the Revolution Court to demand that their relatives' legal situations and whereabouts be made clear.

The Ministry of Intelligence, much like years past, in order to fabricate evidence against the students who were arrested before Student Day (Dec. 7) - in assaults by intelligence security forces against them in their homes and dormitories - in all the arrest warrants/papers has recorded their day of arrest as December 8th.

The detainees' families voiced particular protest over this action of the ministry, but the only response given by the Revolution Court's staff was, "This is of no concern to us, and if you have any complaints, take it to the investigating branch to which the files have been transferred," which meant that there was as usual no accounting for anybody. In the arrest papers of all the detainees the charges are indicated as 'acting against national security'.

All the families were outraged over the continued detention and lack of any news from their loved ones, and were cursing Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.

A group of students participated in the gathering in front of the Revolution Court, in solidarity with their arrested friends and in support of the detainees' families. They announced that they would continue their protests alongside the families of the detainees until all those under arrest are freed.
[Source: Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran]

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stop the Execution of Zeinab Jalalian, Kurdish Activist

Dear Human Right Organisations,

My name is Ms Zeinab Jalalian (زینب جلالیان). I am a 27-year old Kurdish female political prisoner, in Iran. My Death sentenced was confirmed by Iranian Supreme Court. I am currently ill because of torture, and I don’t have a lawyer to defend me. I want to tell you that my trial took only a few minutes. The Court told me: “You are God's enemy and you must be hanged very soon.” That was all my court procedures.

I asked the judge to give me permission to hear the voice of my mother and say goodbye to my family before my execution, but he told me "Shut your mouth," and he rejected my request.

Zeinab Jalalian (زینب جلالیان)
اسم من زینب جلالیان می باشد
من دختر 27 ساله‌ی کورد زندانی سیاسی ایران هستم حکم اعدام من از طرف شورای عالی دادگاه‌ انقلاب اسلامی تایید شوده‌ است ، من بخاطر شکنجه‌ی زیاد در حال حاضر مریض ، و هیچ وکیلی ندارم که‌ از من دفاع کند محاکمه‌ی من فقد چند دقیقه‌ طول کشید و ان هم این بود که‌ دادگاه‌ به‌ من گفت تو دوشمن خدا هستی و باید اعدام شوی من از حاکم خواستم که‌ پیش از اعدامم به‌ من اجازه‌ بدهد برای اخرین بار صدای مادرم و فامیلم را بشنوم حاکم از من خواست که‌ دهنم را ببندم و در خواست مرا رد کرد .
26/11/2009 زینب جلالیان
Please Write/Phone/Fax:
Head of Iran's Judiciary: Ayatollah Amoli Larijani: Office of the Head of Judiciary, Pasteur St., Vali Asr Avenue, south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737; Tel: +98 21 8 896 203 Fax: +98 21 879 6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567; Email: /
Minister of Foreign Affairs: Manouchehr Mottaki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Keshk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 390 1999, Email:
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Iran Unrest Persists in Universities

Translation of a report from the website, Rooz. See the original here. (right photo: Majid Tavakoli)

Unrest Persists in Universities
In reaction to the arrests and fabrications against Tavakoli
By Saamnaak Agha'ie (Rooz Online; Dec. 10, 2009)

In the aftermath of the arrest of Majid Tavakoli, member of Islamic Association, in Polytechnique University (Amir Kabir), and the reports by government owned media regarding his arrest 'while dressed as a woman', the universities still have a tense atmosphere and the protests against the government continue.

According to received reports, in addition to protests in Tehran's universities, yesterday also saw student gatherings in state and private universities in Mashhad, Qhazvin, Karaj, Esfahan and Shiraz. Yesterday's university student protests in several different cities followed the lie mongering by the government, and publication on websites connected to the security-intelligence forces of photos related to Majid Tavakoli, a well known student activist. Yesterday's continued [nationwide] student protests were also held in undivided solidarity with that student activist.

In this relation, the Islamic Association of the Polytechnique University, in a statement, emphasized: "Not only Majid Tavakoli, but all students in the dungeons of tyranny, are the pride of the student movement, whether they be dressed in women's clothing or men's."

Majid Tavakoli and a Speech
Majid Tavakoli, who was arrested in the assault by the security forces and the basijis on the Student Day ceremonies in Polytechnique University, is among well known student activists that in recent years has also been imprisoned [...] and has [already] suffered through a fifteen-month sentence under torture. On this year's Student Day/16 Azar, he attended the ceremonies at Polytechnique along with hundreds of other protesting students, and gave a speech for some minutes. In his speech, which was met with great enthusiasm among students, this student activist, pointing to the recent events after the elections, and pointing to the crackdown and all the spilled blood and the rapes in prisons, he emphasized the importance of students' resistance and struggle alongside the people and against the ruling despotism.

[Majid Tavakoli], in another part of his speech reminded that the Student Day is the day of shouting at tyranny, and, addressing the students, said: "In honoring and respecting a people who have risen with peaceful protests against oppression and the blood-letting, and who have today come to our support, it is our duty to be present at the gates of the university and to thank the people present in front of the university, and to strengthen our unity with the people."

Defending Imprisoned Students
Student sources believe that Tavakoli's arrest and the [lie mongering] campaign by websites supporting the coup regime was mainly due to his spirited and moving speech at the students' gathering. Yesterday, after Majid Tavakoli's arrest, [state owned] Fars News Agency initially published a photo of Tavakoli, claiming that he was arrested while dressed as a woman and trying to escape from the university.

In response to the fabrications against an arrested fellow affiliate, the Islamic Association of the Polytechnique University, in a harsh statement said: "Those who cannot stand the freedom seeking surge of the Amir Kabir students, much like in the past, scheme to destroy the dignities of free people. But, they should know that freedom belongs to those people who put themselves in danger for freedom. And in truth, Majid Tavakoli ... is such a free soul, who is always in the hearts of, and subject of talk among, the Amir Kabir University students. Iranian dictatorship must be very angry with Majid Tavakoli's words and criticisms regarding the current dictatorship in the country, since they find themselves being like the king whose nakedness has been revealed by the students. And now, hapless and helpless in understanding the students' clear slogans, they show their revenge and hatred by persecuting Majid Tavakoli. The widespread and glorious resistance of the students across the country has gotten the inept despots so confused that they could not find anything else to do other than to put some fake clothes on Tavakoli and publish the pictures. Little do they know that Majid Tavakoli has been, is and will be the pride of the students' movement, be he dressed in women's clothing or men's."

Widespread Arrests in Mashhad University
Yesterday's student protests in universities in several cities in the country were accompanied with widespread arrests. The gathering at the Ferdowsi University in Mashhad [in the northeast], protesting against the continued arrests of students on December 7th/Student Day, was for the second time faced with an assault by the security forces and the Basijis, resulting in physical beatings by security forces and arrests of at least 70 students in that university.

One of the students, in an interview with Rooz (, said: "This gathering was held with more than 2,000 university students attending, in front of the amphitheater's doors. Students were protesting, holding green flags and symbols, raising slogans like, "Ahoy, irreverent Karroubi, break the big statue-god" (Karroubi-e bot-shekan, bott-e bozorg-o beshkan!), and "Death to dictator!" when a group of some forty Basijis started attacking the students."

The student then continued: "When the Basijis faced resistance and the students fought back, and when the cultural deputy of the university's warnings were ineffective in ending the gathering, a large number of security forces entered the area of the gathering and along with the Basijis proceeded to assault and arrest the students."

In closing, the student pointed to the later release of some of the 70 arrested students, some hours later, and said: "But, in particular, the fate of some 13 -- who are among the more active students of the university -- remains unknown. A large number of students have announced in a statement that, in case the detained are not immediately released, they will continue to assemble and protest tomorrow as well."

Increase in the Number of Arrested Students
While the students in universities in Tehran, Shiraz, Esfahan, and may other cities in the country are determined to continue their protests in universities, news sources are reporting a rise in the numbers of arrested students in the last two days. The increase in the reports of arrested students takes place in a situation that, according to law enforcement officials, in Tehran alone more than 200 students were arrested on 16 Azar/Dec. 7. Until now, no reliable figures have been published regarding detained students in cities such as Tabriz, Hamedan, Ahvaz, Esfahan and Karaj.

In Shiraz, with the arrests of two more students, Sa'id Aganji and Razieh Ja'fari, the number of arrested students in the last two days now stands at 8. Amir Kabir Newsletter, writing about this, said: "On 16 Azar/Student Day, six students activists in Shiraz were arrested, with the following names: Seyed Mohammad Mohsen Moussavi, Sobhan Heydari, Najmaa Ranjbar, Seyed Mohammad Hosseini, Sa'id Lotfi, and Masood Mahdavi-far. In all, since 13 Aban/Nov. 4, more than 30 dissident students have been arrested in Shiraz, about whose fates and conditions no news has been available until now."

In Tehran also, with the continuation of the protests and the arrests of the Student Day, news and human rights sources yesterday reported at least 8 more arrests in the last two days: Farzad Kalb'ali, Taher Dehkhar-Qharnian, Navid Soltanpoor, Mojtaba Hashemi, Niloofar Esbati, Bardia Najaar, Mehdi Belkhari and Meisam Hosseini.

Additionally, local sources in Kurdistan also published the names of 15 students arrested in Tehran and the provinces: Ahmad Esma'ili, Amanj Rahimi, Abdollah Arefi, Pakhshan Azizi, Leyla Mohammadi, Sarveh Veisi, Hazhar Yusefi, Amjad Kordnejad, Nasser Ahmadi, Abas Kaka'ie, Ali-Reza Moradi and Sajad Moradi, are among the students arrested in Tehran University. Also, Edris Moloody in Baaneh, and Sohrab Karami in Ghorveh were detained and sent to prison.

Video of Qhazvin University Students

The banner held by the students reads, "University Is Alive!"

Continued Protests at Tehran and Sharif Universities

From Payvand Iran News.
(poster reads: University Is Alive!)

Protests of students at Tehran and Sharif Universities
Payvand Iran News / Dec. 10, 2009

Protests of students at Tehran and Sharif universities continued for a third day.

Despite the fact that last night, Tehran University issued and distributed an order over the campus and dormitory that banned any protests on December 9th, several students supporting the Green movement held a protest in front of the faculty of engineering.

According to report by Norooz News Agency, the faculty officials who wanted to show peaceful reaction to the extensive protest by the students in front of the office of Kamaree, faculty's dean, opened doors to Shahid Chamran auditorium so that students could state their objections.

After the opening of the session and a 20 minute speech by Kamaree, protesting students who were talking in the form of an open forum, repeatedly demanded resignation of Farhad Rahbar, the university's dean which was objected by Kamaree. This led to objections from the students which resulted in Kamaree leaving the auditorium.

In this session, students chanted slogans against the university security personnel. On December 7 and 8, the university security did not prevent the Basij militia, who were not students, from entering the university and beating the students inside the university, and they even assisted Basij militia to beat protesting students.

Sharif University, December 9th
According to reports, today the students of Sharif University also held a rally and protest. The arrest of at least 7 students of Sharif University and other universities including Tehran University on December 7 and 8 has been announced as the reason for this protest. Sharif University students rallied inside the university, chanted slogans and gathered in front of the university's main entrance.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Khiaban No. 57: Looking back at Student Day 2009

Translation of a lead article from the latest issue of Khiaban newspaper.

You can read all previous issues of Khiaban newspaper

Broken Structures, Failed Repairmen
Khiaban #57 / Tuesday, December 8, 2009

16th Azar/Student Day has passed. With slogans of "Death to Khamenei!" Death to the principle of religious guardianship! "Khamenei the murderer; his guardianship null and void!" (Khamenei qhaateleh, velayatesh baateleh!) "Death to the tyrant, be it shah or the supreme leader!" (Marg bar setamgar, che shah baasheh che rahbar!) "Torture, treason; infamy on this guardianship!" (Shekanjeh, khiaanat; nang bar in velayat!) "Hossein, Hossein is your motto; raping is your peak of pride!" (Hossein, Hossein sho'aareteh, tajaavoz eftekhaareteh!). "Ahmadi has come up short, he's brought out the idiot thugs!" (Ahmadi kam aavordeh, Sha'ban bi-mokh aavordeh!). "Had there been no Basijis, Taraaneh* with us would still be!" (Agar basiji nabood, Taraaneh* peeshe maa bood!)

16th of Azar has passed. With the widespread and courageous presence of the people in the streets. People who, despite the [undeclared] military law and the military occupation of the streets, took to the streets and fought for their presence in public spaces and shouted out their demands.

16th of Azar has passed. With the announcement of the absolute will of the society to continue their movement until a free and equal society is achieved. The Student Day passed so that the society's season may begin.

They [reformists] said, and we heard, 'do not raise slogans against the system'. They said, and we heard, 'do not take to the streets; hold your ceremonies within the universities'. They said, and we heard. We heard it said by all from the reformist wing of the regime to Nehzat Azadi [Freedom Front], to the analysts outside the country, and in numerous media. From this interview and that radio, to this and that green statement.

The people, however, and the university students raised their own voices. Their own slogans. From the people's point of view, a valiye faqih [religious guardian/supreme leader] who has supervised the killings and the torture of the people, and who is the commander in chief, is a criminal. A system based on valiye faqih, which has been placed on earth by some god, and which is not accountable to anybody, cannot be defended, nor has it any room for reform. This constitution and the legal institutions are huge obstacles in the way of the actualization of the free and equal right of self-determination, to determine one's own life. The liquidation of the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij, and all the other fascistic gangs, now constitutes a demand of the people. These structures have long been shattered in the collective consciousness. The destruction of these structures and the creation of new structures that guarantee a free and equal life is now a collective demand, which cannot be silenced by media propaganda.

16th of Azar showed that those who consider themselves the leaders of the movement are not made of the same cloth as the reality of the movement. Those leaders show one strategy, but the people protesting in the streets take other steps. They advertise certain slogans, but the people protesting in the streets shout different slogans. The self-assigned spokespeople of the movement give speeches that are in contradiction to the demands raised by the people protesting.

The time has come for the people, through their own local organizations, to publish and disseminate their own voices and discourse. Issuing of statements -- reflecting demands of particular groups of citizens formed within specific networks of those who are organizing themselves -- can be the voice of the movement's depths, brought to the greater public. We must take the role of spokesman-ship back from fraudulent spokespeople. Slogans are effective but they are not enough. People must [organize to] issue statements in which they express their demands and their proposals.

[*Translator's Note: Taraaneh Mousavi, a woman who was group-raped in detention, and whose body was burned to cover up the crime.]

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Latest from Amir Kabir Newsletter

Below, is a translation of the latest news on Amir Kabir Newsletter. The news item is about he attacks by Basij and Sepah forces against the students in Tehran and Shahid Beheshti universities. See the original here.

Also, you can see where Shahid Beheshti University is located in Tehran (facing the hills that house Evin prison), in this BBC Persian video clip, on some of the events of the Student Day in Tehran:

Revolutionary Guards and Basij Attack Tehran and Shahid Beheshti Universities
Amir Kabir Newsletter / Dec. 8, 2009

Starting this morning (Tuesday, Dec. 8), groups of Sepah (revolutionary guards) and Basijis began attacking university students in Tehran University and Shahid Beheshti University.

According to Amir Kabir Newsletter, the gates to these universities were opened by university security to Basij and Sepah forces outside the campuses, so that they could enter the grounds.

This happened after the students at Tehran University had declared yesterday that, in condemnation of the violence by the plainclothes security forces on Student Day, they would assemble to protest today, Dec. 8.

The security forces, armed with batons, truncheons and pepper sprays, went on an assault against the students. Also, based on reports from Tehran University students, a number of students were arrested and transferred out of the university.

In the meantime, this morning, several bus loads of Basij and plainclothes forces were transferred to Shahid Beheshti University to hold an assembly.

According to Amir Kabir newsletter, these forces started moving in the direction of the Shahid Beheshti University's school of law, in the process forcing the closure of classes, and proceeded to beat the students. Based on latest reports received, there is/was a confrontation between some 200 Basijis and about 300 students, exchanging slogans.

Yesterday, the students at Shahid Beheshti University celebrated and honored Student Day by holding a large and spontaneous assembly. In that assembly, the students raised radical slogans against the ruling authorities, and in front of the hills housing Evin [prison], shouted, "Allah-o Akbar!"

The Ansare Hezbollah forces and the Basijis who were bused in to Shahid Beheshti, along with the Basijis who attend the university, held an assembly in front of the men's cafeteria, and raised slogans, such as, "Moussavi kam Avordeh" (roughly, Moussavi is inept), or, "Marg bar zedde velayate faqih" (death to those opposed to religious rule of one).

In response, the university students gathered in front of women's cafeteria, and raised slogans such as, "Toop, taank, basiji; digar asar nadaarad" (canons, tanks, basijis will no longer suffice!), "Death to dictator!", and, "Get lost, Basiji!"

In view of the violence against the students by basijis and the plainclothes forces, the atmosphere there is still tense.

Free Iran Labor Leader, Pedram Nasrollahi!

Translation of statement issued by a group of labor leaders in Iran, condemning the arrest of Pedram Nasrollahi, a fellow labor leader. Original statement (in Farsi) can be read at the website of Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organization.

UPDATE: On Dec. 7th, Nasrollahi was released on a $30,000 bail, but the charges against him still stand (see the news, in Farsi, here).

Closing Statement of Ceremonies of Coordinating Committee Condemning the Arrest of Pedram Nasrollahi
December 4, 2009

Workers, organizations and institutions defending human rights, honorable and freedom loving people!

A new phase of arrests and detentions of workers and workers' rights activists has started [in Iran]. Workers' representatives of the Haft-Tapeh Sugarcane Co. syndicate were taken to jail for merely defending the workers' demands to meet their needs. The detainees of the May 1st, 2009, from Tehran were called in [by security forces] and Mohammad Ashrafi was sentenced to one year in prison. Pedram Nasrollahi, a member of Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organization, while returning home was assaulted physically, then arrested and transferred to Sanandaj prison. Threats against workers rights activists and their arrests continue. And all these under conditions, where the security and intelligence forces have been suppressing assemblies and gatherings of workers' activists, and while the oppressed and the fed-up, in order to achieve their crushed rights and demands in different social spheres take to street protests, which under the pretexts of 'disturbing the public peace' and 'fighting against national security' get crushed and their activists tried in courts with imaginary charges.

All these problems, of course, are occurring within conditions in which the working classes in Iran are facing innumerable difficulties and tragedies, under pressure from many sides and their rights denied. Capitalists don't pay their wages for months at a time and subject the workers to numerous forms of oppression and severe exploitation. At the moment, countless productive centers are faced with closures and firings and widespread unemployment continue to threaten the livelihoods of workers and their families. Also, the current government plan to supposedly 'rationalize the subsidies' [to phase out almost all subsidies _ trans. note], although not operationalized yet, has already had its psychological impact and the prices of many necessary goods have gone up, something whose pressure will be felt all the more painfully among the workers and the lower layers of the society. The continuation of these conditions will considerably worsen life and work conditions for workers, and the living conditions of the lower classes will face numerous kinds of hardships and tribulations.

It is clear that with all these hardships and restrictions, workers -- who struggle and fight for their obvious and legitimate rights -- cannot take a step backward and stop demanding their elementary and legitimate needs to be met and be given what's theirs. In the midst of all this, threats and arrests of workers and workers' rights activists will have no benefits for this exploiting class other than to expose capital's ruthlessness and to educate the masses all the more regarding the anti-worker nature of the capitalists. Such anti-workers actions and plans will only steel the will and determination of the workers for the continuation of their struggle to pursue their rights and demands in all social spheres.

We the members of Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organization, who participated in these ceremonies in defense of Pedram Nasrollahi, while condemning his arrest, demand that he be set free by the relevant authorities, and in case of the continuation of his incarceration, consider it justified to continue our efforts to free him in any form necessary and possible.

We, the participants in these ceremonies, also demand the suspension of the harassment of workers and demand the freedom of the leaders of the [Tehran] bus drivers' syndicate and the Haft-Tapeh Sugarcane Co. syndicate, and the freedom of all political prisoners.

Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organization
13 Azar, 1388 / Dec. 4, 2009

[See original in Farsi, here]

Monday, December 7, 2009

Iranian Revolution: Act II Continues

In solidarity with the Iranian university students!
Salute to all the heroic students, every one of whom is a leader and a fighter!
In unison with millions of students in Iran, we salute the freedom loving spirit of Shariat Razavi, Ghandchi and Bozorgnia!
People in Iran continue their fight. The state trembles at every one of these anniversaries. As reported on Revolutionary Road, one bus passenger in Tehran could be heard commenting on the cowardice of the regime: "They're afraid of their own shadows," says the passenger while filming the battalions and battalions of different security agencies lining up the streets, in an 'absolute show of force'.
Alas, such is the double-edged sword they wield. The more they have to occupy the streets to maintain control, the more they are not in control.
And the people's moves, when faced with only brutality and nothing else, will only get more radical over time. That, and more organized, plus more creative at times. One of the more creative moments of this round of battles was a new stunt: people were holding out money to Basijis, while chanting, "Maa ahl-e koofeh nisteem, pool begirim be'isteem!" (roughly, 'We're no paid thugs, who get paid to stand for something') (see the first video clip below).
For some of the best live reporting, see Revolutionary Road's live blogs from Tehran.

This is Tehran University:

Many more video clips available on's video page for 16 Azar ceremonies.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bazr: Iran Student Day 2009

Translation of a statement issued by the student publication, Bazr, on the occasion of the 16th Azar (Dec. 7th), or the (University) Student Day, in Iran (see original in Persian, here).

16th Azar: Always Red!
Bazr Student Periodical: On the Occasion of 16 Azar/December 7, 2009

16th of Azar is on the way once again. Any ceremonies planned for this year will be different from those of previous years. This school year started with a different beginning. 13th of Aban (Nov. 4th), which had always been a boring event, this time around was a starting point for this day. 16th of Azar, however, has always been a climax for all the events. From the people's point of view, the university and university students have been symbols of consciousness, knowledge and struggle. After the recent surge forward [by the people], which saw astonishing days and moments, the Student Day can become a turning point. However, a review of this day in history shows us some important points.

The starting point of 16th Azar was in the university student struggles in 1953, in opposition to the Shah's policies and, specifically, to Nixon's trip [as Eisenhower's vice president] to Iran. The demonstrations held for this occasion led to the deaths of three university students [in Tehran] by the names of: Qhandchi, Shari'at Razavi, and Bozorgnia. Since then, 16th Azar of every year has been celebrated as the Student Day, albeit with different degrees of intensity. The point that is evident and clear, however, is that the Islamic Republic has always attempted to confiscate this day in the name of Islam. But, the students' struggle of 1953 was a fight against the ruling oppression and imperialism. The three murdered students belonged to the communist Tudeh Party and to the National Front.

The oppression of that day and today are not different; only its form and appearance have changed, but its class nature is the same as it was. The Islamic Republic, by creating student organizations that were attached to the regime, such as the Daftar Tahkim Vahdat (Office of Consolidation of Unity) and various Islamic associations, has to this day tried to fully expropriate this day and to use it for its own policies.

In recent years, with the presence and regeneration of leftist students in universities, the 16th Azar ceremonies have been held with a different quality. In particular, we can point to the ceremonies held in 2006. Although it was a joint ceremony in conjunction with Daftar Tahkim, with the presence of the radical students the day turned into a radical and oppositional program against the regime. The day after, although an account in the E'temad Meli newspaper (belonging to the reformist faction then, and today's opposition) contained a picture of the ceremonies displaying red placards, the report itself claimed the ceremony to have been organized [only] by Daftar Tahkim Vahdat and reportedly filled with enthusiasm.

In 2007, when the regime could no longer stand the strengthening of the left, in the lead-up to the 16th Azar, it organized a widespread campaign of arrests against leftist activists, and detained nearly 40 individuals and sent them to Evin. Despite that, the Student Day was celebrated, albeit in small crowds, and several of the students were also arrested after the ceremonies. In that year, Daftar Tahkim Vahdat, at ease of mind in the absence of the left, organized the ceremonies. The interesting part was the confiscation of the leftist slogans; something that was repeated in different ceremonies held later by Tahkim Vahdat students. They confiscated both the day and the slogans!

But how will the 16th Azar be this year? This year, everything has changed considerably. In the recent leap made by the people, the presence of the students was very widespread and influential. The Iranian regime, knowing that the universities and their students constitute a major segment in the struggle, attacked the university campus [in Tehran] with vengeful violence, killing many and injuring, arresting and disappearing many more. The final exams were canceled so that the students would return to their hometowns. But, none of these stopped the rage of the people and the university students. The start of the school year, which was accompanied with many 'if's' and 'but's' regarding opening the universities or not, turned out to be a hot beginning. This time, though, the student protests and the struggles spread nationwide. The students have organized/assembled under many different pretexts. None of the regime's representatives have been able to give speeches in any of the universities in Tehran or in other cities, and most such speeches have turned into arenas of radical struggles. Although green symbols and slogans have more or less been present at these protests, the organization of these protests, according to students who attend them, have not been under the leadership of the Daftar Tahkim Vahdat students, and have been mostly spontaneous. In all this, the presence of the first-year and newly arrived students, who had started university having just arrived from a street fight, has been very manifestly positive.

After the 13 Aban/November 4th ceremonies, the Iranian regime, terrified of the 16th Azar, began its attack in many different forms. The execution of Ehsan Fattahian, a Kurdish political activist and 16 others in the same week, the widespread arrests of university students in different universities, suspension of students and banning them from entering universities, and ordering vast numbers to report to disciplinary committees are among such attacks. It is certain that these arrests will not stop the 16th Azar ceremonies from being held. This year, however, an important change has been created. Until now, the Islamic Republic has been trying to confiscate this day, but today the reformist faction of the regime, which sees itself as the opposition, is trying to do the same. But, the reality is that the green faction, today, is part of the ruling system. Not only are their demands not radical, they even try to control people's radical slogans and moves. The greens, who never thought people's protests would materialize like this, have tried to claim ownership over these struggles and have done their utmost to tame and control them. They are riding the wave of people's struggle. But the reality is that they cannot be real leaders of people's fight, since they too seek to consolidate the 30-year long positions and policies of the Islamic Republic, but in a different form. They talk of the return to the constitution; of the real revival of religion, and they talk of the Islamic Republic, not a word more, nor a word less! Haven't such categories been noticed and examined for the last thirty years? The reformist faction which has been a part of the ruling system has been complicit in all matters. But, the fissure that has appeared today among the rulers is over how best to continue and prolong the life of the Islamic Republic. Their class nature and their goals are not different. Their clash is not over the people's interests.

It is therefore necessary that the university students -- as a part of the people with a concentrated presence at the nerve centers of knowledge and consciousness -- must consciously address this issue and prevent the Student Day from being confiscated, this time by the greens. Although the [organization of] Tahkim Vahdat does not enjoy its previous strength, we must remember that the greens, as a part of the regime, still have their own forces, media and platforms. Daftar Tahkim is not only not the representative of 16th Azar, it is even an obstacle to celebrating the Student Day in its true meaning. This organization has annually used this day to push forth the policies of the Islamic Republic, and this year will undoubtedly push forth the policies of the greens.

The Student Day is a day to fight against ruling oppression and imperialism, and this year the message of the 16th Azar, delivered by university students, must be heard by all, all the more gloriously. In the last months, the street has been the scene of people's struggles, and today, on the eve of the 16th Azar, the regime has taken special measures in preparation to limit the events of the day to the university campus. At the same time, we must note that even the green faction is not too enthusiastic about the events spilling beyond the university campus walls. They are well aware of the explosive potentials of the university students, and know that if the students join up with the people and other youth in the streets, the 16th Azar ceremonies will turn untamable. This could lead to big losses for the greens. This year's 16the Azar can become a determining turning point and springboard for the people's movement. It was for good reason then that, from the very first days [of the movement], in order to tame the people's movement, this regime attacked the university, since it knew that students carry a big weight in the movement. The events of the past months have unfolded in such manner that despite the differences between the two factions, their discourse is increasingly similar. Moussavi has been content with issuing conciliatory and pacifying statements, and Karroubi, who they claim is a radical, on the eve of the Student Day has stepped back and remained silent.

The students must use this atmosphere, which contains all the right elements for a radical fight, and must insist on the radical nature of this day as a revolutionary day, a day of anti-oppression and anti-imperialism, and revive the true meaning of this day. The true horizon of the student's struggles must be based on the interests of the majority of the society and against the totality of the regime. We must not allow the greens to confiscate this day in their own name and to put a green stamp on it. We must fight against and expose the crimes committed on the university campus [in Tehran University], we must fight against the arrests, the suspensions and expulsions and putting stars on students and against the recent executions, especially the execution of Ehsan Fattahian. The ruling faction orders the replacement of humanities courses with classes in Islamic studies and the green faction speaks of the correct revival of religion in the society. On this day, we must raise our voices against all such cases and against the dissemination of superstitions - instead of science - in the most essential places of science and knowledge. As opposed to the policies pursued by the greens, who are opposed to slogans targeting the whole political structure [of the regime], on this day we must use radical and revolutionary slogans against religious rule, against compulsory hejab [cover for women], in support of dominated ethnic minorities and against the entirety of the system; and we must avoid raising religious and nationalistic slogans. By creating independent organizations consisting of a radical student body, we must prevent the confiscation of the student protests by regime organizations, such as Tahkim [Vahdat] and Anjoman Eslami (Islamic Association). Do not allow them, after confiscating the slogans of the day, to then also confiscate this day that belongs to the university students. We must take the fight from inside the university campus to the streets. In the recent leap, women and girls have had a noticeable and magnificent presence, and nowadays a major part of the student body consists of women. We must be the voice of the girls and women of the society, and reflect their demands. The voice of those who proved that they have an important role in leading the recent fights.

Let us not allow 16th Azar to turn green! Let us celebrate this day in red, not only in appearance but in form and essence!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Khiaban No. 54: 11th Anniversary of Serial Killings

Translation of a lead article of issue number 54 of Khiaban newspaper.

You can read all previous issues of Khiaban newspaper

Serial Killings: Eleven Years Later
Amir K.
Khiaban #54 / Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009

Eleven years ago, in the month of Azar*, one of the numerous bloody chapters in the history of the Islamic Republic was written. In a short span of time, several writers, intellectuals and political activists were murdered in an organized, pre-planned crime committed by the state. These murders, which were carried out in a horrendous fashion, shocked and traumatized the society. The Intelligence Ministry, in a statement, admitted to the culpability of a group from within the ministry in the killings, and called them a rogue group.

At that time, among the regime's reformist publications, the idea was repeatedly propagated that the real target of the serial killings had been Khatami's government. This claim implicitly meant that the murdered figures themselves did not have any real significance, and other people could have taken their place. In this way, the wrath and rage of the people due to the hideous killings was thus channeled into defending the Khatami government. The supposed relative insignificance of those murdered was also pointed out and emphasized by [the supreme leader] Khamenei. In a speech, he said that he reads and browses all the cultural and literary periodicals in Iran, but that he had never heard the names of the murdered. He stated further that the killings had the goal of muddying up the image of the regime, and the killers were pawns in the hands of foreign powers.

The truth of the matter, however, was that the main targets of the killings were the very murdered people, and not the government that stayed in power for eight years. Daryoosh Foroohar was among a few veteran political figures who still had influence among the nationalists and was living in Iran, and openly talked of the necessity of another revolution in Iran. In perhaps one of his last interviews, in a discussion with a student publication of the Ferdosi University in Mashhad, on the eve of the 1997 presidential elections [that led to Khatami's presidency], Foroohar spoke explicitly of the inability of the regime's structures to be reformed, and stated that only through another revolution can people achieve freedom. By murdering him, the regime could be assured that the elderly well-known political figures from the first provisional [post-revolution] government, would always issue group statements, and in those statements speak of the necessity of step-by-step reforms and reject structurally destructive discourses as something befitting the foreign-residing Iranians.

Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Ja'far Pooyandeh were two prolific leftist writers and translators, whose murders even could not stop the influence of their works in reviving leftist ideas among the young generation. The efforts of these two writers in re-founding the Iranian Writer's Association (Kanoon Nevisandegan Iran) had been observed and taken note of accurately, and the bloody elimination of the left wing of the Association had been an aim of the regime [...] [The murder of] Majid Sharif, Pirooz Davaani and other victims of the serial killings, all pursued particular strategic objectives for the Islamic Republic in its totality, and followed long term goals of the regime.

The point to pay attention to is that many of the personalities, who in ordinary times --when regular citizens are faced with daily lawlessness -- speak not a word of the illegal behavior of the rulers, in times of crisis when the citizens are outraged and want to do something, immediately speak out on the necessity of following the law. At the time when the serial killings had shaken the whole society into a reaction, the necessity of pursuing the killings through the legal channels was proposed. A special commission was set up to investigate and put on trial those responsible for the killings, and it was said that we must let the commission pursue the technical task of the legal investigation. It was clear what the result would be. After eleven years, the elements involved in the killings have not been tried, nor identified. The most famous of the accused, Sa'id Emaami, was suicided and the whole affair was wrapped up.

Today too, when again the crimes of this regime have lost cover and been brought to light, some are speaking of legally pursuing these crimes through lawful channels and judicial commissions. This time, however, it is obvious to the people that commissions composed of members selected by the rulers (read, people's enemies) will shed no light on the truth. The only time we can talk of judicial commissions for legally investigating these crimes is when the investigative judicial commissions have risen from the institutions of people's power. Such legal investigations are meaningful only when the institutions of people's movement are able to elect members of commissions of jurists and legal experts, and only then will investigations lead to the identification and arrest of those who gave the orders and who committed these recent crimes.

[*Approximately, last week of November through first three weeks of December]

Friday, December 4, 2009

11th Anniversary of Serial Killings in Iran

From Payvand Iran News.

Iran's writers' associations to pay homage to assassinated colleagues (12/02/09)- Iran's writers' associations will be paying homage to Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh, on the 11th anniversary of death of these writers, by holding a gathering on Friday December 4th at Emamzadeh Taher cemetery at Mehrshahr in Karaj (see announcement in Persian).

The two writers were killed 11 years ago in what has been dubbed as "serial murders" by Iran's Intelligence Ministry agents as part of a plot to eliminate intellectuals and political personalities. On November 22nd 1998, Darioush and Parvaneh Forouhar were brutally murdered in their home by agents of the Ministry of Information. While the Iranian society was still chocked by the news of this abject crime, two members of Iran's writers' associations, Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh disappeared and were found dead on December 3rd and December 10t, 1998, respectively.

While these criminal acts and the people behind them were exposed by President Khatami's administration, and while some of the agents were tried in court, no one has been punished for them. Saeed Emami, who was identified as the mastermind of the operation, reportedly committed suicide while being held at a prison in Tehran thus burying many of the secrets of the operation.

Families meanwhile continue to demand justice (see Justice Denied: Report to the Nation)

"We stand resolute in our demand to know the whole truth about these crimes against humanity and to have a competent court investigate them. These crimes are still an open wound in the collective conscience of the Iranian society. And each one of us feels responsible to press for justice." Forouhar, Mokhtari, and Pouyandeh families (2008)