Sixty-eight years ago today, the monarchic dictatorship in Iran attacked the famous university of Tehran to quell students’ protest, four months after the Coup against Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, the Prime Minister who nationalized the petroleum industry.
Simultaneous with then-U.S. President Richard Nixon’s trip to Iran, students held demonstrations to voice their protest against the tyranny of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
In response to peaceful protests, security forces and intelligence officers raided the university and murdered three students, including Mostafa Bozorg-Nia, Ahmad Ghandchi, and Mehdi Shari’at Razavi.
Since then, Iranian students, professors, and university staff have annually marked December 7 as the Student Day in honor of the victims’ bravery. This day has also inspired millions of students to protest the current theocratic dictatorship, which murdered thousands of students in the 1980s, particularly during the extrajudicial executions in 1988.
Iranian Authorities Try to Exploit the Student Day
For decades, authorities in Iran have tried to downplay public displeasure against their unelected ruling system. They have time and again attempted to confiscate and exploit this national event. For instance, former President Mohammad Khatami, who is wrongfully known as a reformist and sometimes the father of reformism in Iran, received students’ hatred and vehement slogans during his last participation as President in the University of Tehran.
Notably, Khatami had already ordered Hassan Firouzabadi, the then-chief of Armed Forces staff, to employ the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and carry out a crackdown on protesting students in July 1999.
As mullahs try to exploit the Student Day in #Iran, we should know both reformists and conservatives are cut from the same cloth.
— Iran News Update (@IranNewsUpdate1) December 7, 2021
However, disappointed students cut Khatami’s remarks short and called him a liar in December 2004. “If you are the representatives of the people, we are the enemy of the people,” Khatami said while he had elaborated his opinions as a soldier for the religious dictatorship.
In 2006, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the Amir Kabir University, the Polytechnic. Students slapped him with fiery slogans such as “Death to the dictator.” Furthermore, one of the protesting students raised a banner that read, “Fascist President, the university is not your place,” while another student set Ahmadinejad’s advertising image ablaze in public. Several students also broke one of the cameras belonging to the propaganda apparatus (IRIB).
— Iran News Update (@IranNewsUpdate1) December 7, 2021
Ahmadinejad’s successor Hassan Rouhani refrained from attending the universities despite his vows. “The empty seat of politicians among students, Rouhani did not go to the university despite his promises,” Tasnim news agency, affiliated with the IRGC Quds Force, reported in December 2019.
Raisi Visits the University
This year, state media had acknowledged that President Ebrahim Raisi, who is notoriously known as the butcher of Tehran, would visit the Polytechnic University on December 7. He was supposed to have a “frank, transparent, and student-like” conversation with students, while his lack of classic education raised severe criticism during his presidential campaigns.
— Iran News Update (@IranNewsUpdate1) October 10, 2021
However, this is not the whole story. During his tenure as the deputy prosecutor in the 1980s, particularly the massacre of political prisoners in the summer of 1988, Raisi personally sent hundreds of students to the gallows. The Iran Freedom website has published the name of 25 students at the Polytechnic University who were executed for their support of the opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI) in the 1980s.
“On July 27, 1988, authorities called around 20 prisoners of women’s ward—No. 2, including Ashraf Fadaei, Monir Abedini, Mojgan Sorbi, and Fereshteh Hamidi, for interrogation. They also called several prisoners from the women’s ward—No. 3. Prisoners returned after several hours. ‘They asked the same questions about our positions and sentences,’ prisoners said, adding, ‘Authorities said that they have placed a machinegun in front of the door,’” narrated Mrs. Aqdas Hosseini, a former political prisoner who survived the 1988 massacre.
“At 11:00 pm, authorities called prisoners Maryam Saghari Khodaparast, Zahra Falahatpisheh, Fariba Omoumi, and Homa Radmanesh. IRGC forces hastily took them out. At midnight, interrogators took several other prisoners from solitary confinement. They never came back,” Mrs. Hosseini recalled.
“On Thursday morning, July 28, 1988, several female prisoners were sentenced to death by the ‘Death Commission,’ and they were immediately hanged in Evin Prison. Ebrahim Raisi was one of the four-judge death commission in Evin,” Mrs. Hosseini added.
“Leyla Hajian, Soheila Hamidi, Roya Khosravi, Mehri Derakhshannia, and Soheila Shams were hanged while they were arrested at the age of 16. Soudabeh Rezazadeh, Mahtab Firouzi, Farahnaz Moslehi, and Parvin Bagheri were also hanged in the 1988 massacre while they were 15 when they were detained.”
She also recited 16 other names of the executed prisoners, saying, “The mullahs focused on graduated prisoners and mercilessly killed medical students and doctors in 1988.”
Students Blame Raisi for Constant Failures
Furthermore, Raisi visited the Polytechnic University today according to an invitation by ‘students’ affiliated with Basij paramilitary forces. Through nonsense remarks, Raisi tried to gain students’ support, which resulted in a backfire.
“Changing these circumstances toward appropriate conditions should be carried out based on science and technology. In this respect, noble professors and students hold the prominent role,” Raisi said.
He falsely claimed that his government has attempted to decrease the gap between itself and society within the past 100 days while not only did Raisi’s cabinet increase prices and impose further pressure on millions of citizens, but it has mercilessly cracked down on any lawful protest across the country.
In response, Mohammad-Hossein Bayati, the Students’ Islamic Union secretary-general, blamed Raisi for his flagrant failures. “What has caused the people’s concerns about the future of the economy is the government’s economic plans are unclear,” he said.
“You made enormous promises to resolve people’s dilemmas, improve the economic situation, and manage the markets of capital and foreign currency exchange. You gave several promises so that the people would not tolerate red board of the bourse and exchanging the U.S. dollar per 310,000 rials,” Bayatiwarned.