The student protests of July 1999
By Ali Akbar Mahdi
July 3, 2000
Ali Akbar Mahdi's "The Student Movement in
the Islamic Republic of Iran" published in the Journal
of Iranian Research and Analysis (November 1999). Mahdi is an associate
professor of sociology at Ohio Wesleyan University. He is the author of
Irani, J'ame'eh-ye Madani, va Daghdaghe-ye Demokr'asi ("Iranian
Culture, Civil Society, and Concern for Democracy, " 1998, Javan Publishing
Co., Toronto). See summarized article here.
2. The Student Movement during the Pahlavi Period
3. The Student Movement during Khomeini's Rule
.....3.1. Prior to the Cultural
.....3.2. The Student Movement
and the Cultural Revolution
.....3.3. Student Organizations
as the Arm of the State
.....3.4. The Daftar-e Tahkim-e
Vahdat [The DTV]
.....3.5. The Tabarzadi Group
or the EEADD
.....3.6. Student Apathy and
4. The Student Movement during Rafsanjani's Presidency
5. The Student Movement during Khatami's Presidency
.....5.1. Structural Changes
in the Iranian Universities and Society
.....5.2. Rebirth of Student
Activism and the Conservative Reaction
6. The July Protests
.....6.1. Politics of Protest
.....6.2. Developments Leading
to the Attack
.....6.3. The Attack on the
.....6.4. The Crackdown: Cutting
the Losses and Going on an Offensive
.....6.5. The Blame Game, Continued
Arrests, and Closed Door Trials
.....6.6. Organization and Demands
7. Where to from Here?
Writing about current affairs is a risky adventure. One may not be sure
whether his/her finger is truly on the pulse of events or only on a flutter
resulting from turbulent storms in distant waters. Though many of the facts
about the July student protests in Iranian universities is still to be
sorted out, there are missing pieces in the puzzle whose future discovery
will help us develop a better and more accurate picture of what happened
in those crucial six days. The more one reads about the July events in
Iran, the more it becomes clear that much of what is being written is filled
with either wishful thinking or calculated reporting. Much of what has
been published in Iran during the past three months is either calculated
reporting by different political factions or self-censored reporting by
a press in constant fear of attack by the conservative courts and vigilantes,
known as the Ansar-e Hezbollah [hereafter the Ansar]. The official reports
of this event can best be described as topsy-turvy. They represent an intentional
inversion of facts in order to hide clues as to the real perpetrators of
the raid on student dormitories and subsequent events. They are engineered
in order to withhold damaging information, generate a sense of stability,
blame the trouble on the targeted enemies, and cover up wrong doings by
security forces and groups associated with both government factions.
Outside of Iran, reports and analyses of these events, by both Iranians
and non-Iranians, are free of censorship but are filled with premature
conclusions and romanticization of the student movement in Iran. A respected
foreign magazine went so far as to characterize these events as another
revolution. (1) Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near Eastern
Policy spoke of "the beginning of the end" of the Islamic Republic
and Hammed Shahidian, an Iranian activist scholar in the United States,
wrote an article in Persian, titled "The beginning of the End."
(2) The wide and sudden burst of these accounts may explain the desires
for a serious change in Iran among Iranians living abroad. However, it
fails to explain why we have heard nothing about the Iranian student movement
for the past two decades of the Islamic Republic's rule. In fact, several
experts have spoken of the silent and difficult period of Iranian student
movement during the past two decades. (3) The issue became so serious that
on the anniversary of the occupation of the American Embassy, in 1994,
Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei warned of indifference among students. Later,
the official student magazine associated with his representative at Amir
Kabir Technical University warned that this condition would negatively
affect the revolution. (4)
Aside from the optimistic and sympathetic features of these accounts,
they characterize the student movement in Iran as an organized, independent,
democratic, and secular movement bent on replacing the Islamic government
with a democratic one. Many of the writings about the student movement
in Iran are based on a romantic view of student activism and a desire to
overthrow the Islamic Republic. The current student movement in Iran is
quite different from the movement that developed during the Pahlavi regime.
The revolution and subsequent developments have had qualitative effects
on the organization, leadership, ideology, and direction of this movement.
The current student movement is significantly more complex and demanding
than ever before. It is increasingly connected to the political demands
of the Iranian civil society, as well as the factional politics and structural
crises of the IRI. In the following paragraphs, I will briefly review the
student movement during the Pahlavi Period, and then move on to discuss
in more detail the ebb and flow of student activism which led to the July
protests. The purpose is to show the characteristics of the student movement
in each period, demonstrate the nature of energy channeled into the July
protests, and show both the engineered and spontaneous phases of these
2. The Student Movement during the Pahlavi Period
Up until the revolution, the student movement was one of the most active
elements of the suppressed Iranian civil society. The University of Tehran
was established in 1934 but it is not until the departure of Reza Shah
from Iran in 1944 that we can speak of a student movement in Iran. The
most visible and eventful aspects of this movement can be found in its
activities during the three decades of Mohammad Reza Shah's rule. These
activities began early during the struggle for the nationalization of the
oil industry and events that resulted in the overthrow of Mossadeq's government
and the return of the Shah. In the absence of political parties in much
of this period, the movement became the political spokesman for ideological
and political trends in society and a vanguard of socio-political protest
in Iran. (5) It was the most outspoken force against the state. It also
had a diverse ideological character reflecting the ideologies of political
opposition. In fact, it was a movement closely tied to political opposition
and ideological movements outside of the campuses.
Despite its ideological diversity, organizationally speaking the movement
consisted of two groups: Islamic and non-Islamic. The secular or non-Islamic
associations, which were the strongest and largest associations, often
had ties to the guerrilla movement operating outside of universities and
served as a recruiting ground for them.(6) That is why all members of the
guerrilla movement were university students.(7) The Islamic associations
made up a small segment of the student movement and often had loose contacts
with Ayatollah Khomeini and the Nehzat-e Azaadi-ye Iran [The Freedom Movement
of Iran, hereafter NAI]. Both sets of associations worked with each other
against the Pahlavi dictatorship. Given the prevalence of political suppression
and the common opposition to the Shah, there were few clashes between these
associations. At most, disagreements between them would result in non-cooperation
Though Iranian students always identified with Third World independence
movements, especially Palestinian and Vietnamese causes, their focus remained
on Iran. Rarely did these associations advocate reformist goals. If there
were any reformist attitude, it was found mostly during the premierships
of Mohammad Mossadeq and later Ali Amini. The slogan "reforms yes,
dictatorship no", advocated by the Jebhe Melli Iran [the Iran National
Front hereafter JMI] in early 1962, had some following among its student
branches. The dominant features of the movement during the Pahlavi period
were political radicalism, intellectual idealism, anti-dictatorship, anti-imperialism,
anti-Americanism, and nationalism. When concerning themselves with educational
issues affecting the daily aspects of teaching and learning in universities,
the matter would invariably become political and turn into a concern against
the state. In short, the focus of the movement was political; the scope
of its activities national, and the state was always the target.
In the last years of the Pahlavi regime, it was students who again initiated
the process that later culminated in revolution. Student poetry readings,
which began in Tehran, were an early catalyst in a chain of events that
crippled the old regime. In 1977, when demonstrations against the Shah
had become widespread, the student associations recruited many new members
and organized numerous protest rallies in major cities.(8) The Islamic
associations also became extremely active, collaborating more closely with
forces supporting Ayatollah Khomeini's call for the departure of the Shah.
3. The Student Movement during Khomeini's Rule
3.1. Prior to the Cultural Revolution: During early days of the
revolution, students expanded their activities, joined revolutionary forces,
and engaged in the takeover and occupation of numerous residential properties
left behind by the fleeing high members of the old regime.(9) Political
ideologies of general movements outside of the university began to have
a great impact on the student associations and their activities. By the
time the Shah left the country and Ayatollah Khomeini returned, the student
associations had become a major arm of their respective political groups
in universities. As recruitment ground, these student associations had
turned universities into de facto headquarters for their respective political
groups and battlegrounds for much of their ideological scuffles. Many faculty
members followed students in organizing for collective action, such as
the Sazemaan-e Melli Daaneshgaahi-yaane Iran (the National Organization
for University Professors = NOUP). (10) During early days of the revolution
when the clerical establishment had begun purging universities and appointing
loyal staffs to university positions, the NOUP issued a statement calling
for the democratic management and student participation in the university
affairs. (11) In the chaotic days of the revolution, when the new regime
was struggling to gain control of situations, these demands added to problems
of managing universities, the government, and the society. Faced with the
tasks of institution and state building, Mehdi Bazargan's Provisional Government
was disturbed by the constant political agitations and demands put to it
by political groups, including student and faculty organizations. Working
with the clerics, the Islamic Student Organizations also agitated against
the so-called liberal policies followed by the Provisional Government.
On November 4, 1979, following an earlier attempt by the Sazmaane Fedaa'
iyaan-e Iran [the Organization of Devotees, a Marxist organization] in
February 1979, a group of Muslim students calling themselves "Daaneshjooyaane
Mosalmaane Payro Khat-e Emaam" [the Muslim Students Following the
Imam's Path, hereafter MSFIL] took initiative and engaged in the boldest,
most radical, and most consequential action by any student group in the
history of student activism in Iran: the seizure of the US Embassy and
the holding of American diplomats as hostages for 444 days.
Ayatollah Khomeini supported the takeover and the MSFIL's cause, thus
using the Embassy takeover for undermining various elements of opposition
to his newly established theocracy. The first victim was the Provisional
Government, which fell apart two days after the takeover. Soon after, the
MSFIL began to piece together and release shredded documents from the US
Embassy, charging various individuals and groups with collaboration with
the American government. Tough most targets were anti-clerical groups or
secular intelligentsia, religious opposition, then led by Grand Ayatollah
Shariatmadari, was not spared.(12) The clerical establishment efficiently
used these students and the hostages for subjugating dissent and consolidating
their power. However, they could neither allow this level of radicalism
to spread to other social arenas nor to continue for long. Later resolution
of the hostage crisis and the engagement in a war with Iraq required more
control over various forms of activism outside of the government institutions.(13)
3.2. The Student Movement and the Cultural Revolution: After
the election of Abolhassan Banisadr as the first president of the IR, universities
continued to be a hotbed of activism. Being young, active, energetic, and
mostly influenced by the secular groups, especially the leftist organizations,
students, as well as their Western educated teachers, were a major obstacle
in the way of consolidation of power by the clerics. Being able to establish
an Islamic government, clerics felt the need to neutralize the influence
of secular currents and their respective student supporters in universities.
On February 27, 1980, the Ministry of Interior issued an order banning
"activities of all political groups in universities" and demanding
that "cultural activities by students" must conform to the government
and university regulations. On March 21,1980, Ayatollah Khomeini criticized
universities for giving refuge to professors and students "who were
dependent on the East and West, and opposed the Islamization of universities."
A week after his speech, the Technical University of Tehran was forced
to close by the Islamic Student Association in that university. On April
18, 1980, after a Friday Prayer speech against universities by then Hojatoleslam
Khamenei, Hezbollahi elements, shouting slogans against "the West-
and East-stricken professors," rallied toward three universities:
the Polytechnic, Science and Technology, and Teacher Training. The Revolutionary
Council issued a warning to students and political groups asking them to
close their offices in universities within three days. On April 19, 1980,
several universities were taken over by the Islamic Student Associations.
Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani ordered the Pasdaaraan [the Guardians Corps] and
Forces of Revolutionary Committees to enter universities. Fights broke
out among Hezbollahi elements and students and many students were injured.
On April 21, Ayatollah Khomeini demanded the "leftist" groups
to stop "opposing the Islamic purge [Paaksaazi-ye Eslaami],"
otherwise he would utter "the last word." Resisting occupation
and closedown of universities, hundreds of students were injured and several
were killed in clashes. On April 22, supporting attacks on student groups,
President Abolhassan Banisadr declared "the birth of Government Sovereignty"
[velaadate haakemiyate dolat] and termed these developments "a Cultural
Revolution." On April 24, protesting the mounting death and injuries
in universities, the Managing Council of Tehran University resigned. Four
days later, the Revolutionary Council ordered universities to close starting
on June 5, 1980.
Students resisted both the order and attacks on universities. For more
than two weeks, there were bloody clashes among Hezbollahi elements and
students of different political persuasions. Islamic associations were
used to identify, report, attack, and help arrest non-Islamic students
and sabotage their organized political and cultural activities.(14) This
was the first time in the history of the Iranian student movement that
a part of the movement was used against itself. On May 12, 1980, an entity
at the time called the Edaareh-ye Tahkim va Vahdat-e Anjoman-haaye Eslaami
[The Office of Consolidation and Unity of Islamic Associations] announced
that their attacks on universities were in line with the orders from Imam
Khomeini. On June 5, all universities were shut down. Two days later, Ayatollah
Khomeini argued that universities should not open until they were purged
of un-Islamic elements and grounds were laid for an Islamic education.
(15) On June 12, Ayatollah Khomeini established the Shoraaye Enqelaabe
Farhangi [The Council for Cultural Revolution, hereafter CCR] for preparing
for the Islamization of universities.
Universities remained closed for over two years. During this period,
the CCR engaged in a review of all programs in universities. Committees,
including Islamic students, were established to review faculty and students'
activities and beliefs. Many activist students and faculty members were
fired and/or arrested for their affiliations with political groups. This
was the end of the independent student movement in Iran. In 1983, some
members of the ruling clerics believed that "politics is for the clergy
and students should be followers." (16) Ayatollah Khomeini opposed
this view and maintained that students should remain politically active,
but within an Islamic framework and at the service of the revolution.
3. 3. Student Organizations as the Arm of the State: When universities
re-opened in 1982, they were purged of leftist, nationalist, secular, and
opposition students and faculties. Female students were barred from studying
certain disciplines, like agriculture, engineering and the law. (17) New
criteria for student admission and faculty recruitment were added. In addition
to meeting educational criteria, students had to be committed to the Islamic
values and have a letter of recommendation from their local mosque or a
respected and known religious member of their communities. New faculty
members were required to take an ideological test before being hired. Up
until the death of Ayatollah Khomeini on June 3, 1989, these restrictions
remained in force, though both students and the faculty had devised mechanisms
of neutralization and resistance to them.
During this period, numerous Islamic student associations were established
within colleges. New quotas were established for admission of members of
Basij [Mobilization Forces] and Paasdaaraan units, and high-ranking government
officials whose educational degrees were far below the level traditionally
required for the positions they occupied. In later years, war veterans
and their family members also received special quotas. Students admitted
through this policy began to fill in the Islamic Associations in universities.
These associations helped government officials recruit students not only
for participation in the war with Iraq, but also for various newly established
revolutionary institutions such as Sepaah Paasdaaraan and Jahaad-e Saazandegi
(Construction Corps).(18) They also prepared students to participate in
government rallies, report on anti-government activities of students and
criticisms of Islam and the state ideology by faculty members, and implement
state gender policies by monitoring male-female interactions among students.
Offices like "Islamic Associations, "Paayegaah-e Moqaavemat-e
Eslaami" [Forces of Islamic Resistance], "Jahaad-e Daaneshgaahi"
[University Holy War], and "Student Basij" were all working together
to maintain a tight grip on the pulse of student deeds and thoughts on
It is at this historical juncture that the student movement, formerly
an active, independent, creative, and anti-establishment force, was transformed
into a watchdog of the state whose main task was to mobilize support for,
and suppress the opposition to, the state. This transformation did not
go unnoticed even by Islamic activists. In 1991, Abdolkarim Soroush complained
of lack of intellectual and ideological creativity and activism among Muslim
students in universities.(19) In the past two years, Abbas Abdi, Seyed
Hashem Aghajari, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, all active members of these Islamic
associations, have begun testifying to the historical damage to the student
movement as a result of this close affiliation with the state. (20)
3.4. The Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat [The DTV]: On September 10,
1979, the representatives of Islamic Student Associations held a national
seminar whose participants included the following students: Ebrahim Asgharzadeh,
Mohsen Mirdamadi, and Abbas Abdi. These students proposed and approved
the establishment of the "Etehaadiyeh Anjoman-haaye Eslaami Daaneshjooyaan
va Saayer-e Maraakez-e 'Amoozesh-e 'Ali-ye digar" [the Union of Islamic
Associations of University Students and Other Higher Educational Centers],
in order to strengthen Islamic student associations and help the development
of the Islamic revolution. In order to abbreviate and convey the mission
of the new organization, it was called "Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat"
[The Office for Consolidation and Unity, hereafter DTV]. The DTV has been
the largest and most active umbrella student organization in Iran since
the revolution. It includes a number of students from the MSFIL and has
become the most influential group after the takeover of the US Embassy.
In the first decade of the revolution, the DTV was closely affiliated
with the radical clerics and many of its members occupied government positions.
It participated in parliamentary and presidential elections of 1983 and
1987 by presenting its own list of candidates. Currently, it has 50 voting
member associations representing state universities and 30 non-voting associations
representing Islamic Azaad universities (which has branches in major cities
in the country). Islamic associations in the latter universities, numbering
70 according to its Chancellor, do not have the same level of freedom enjoyed
by students in state universities. Student organizations in the Islamic
Azaad universities are controlled tightly by the conservative clerics in
the IR, and the university leadership uses heavy-handed disciplinary measures
against students engaged in any protest, political or non-political. (21)
In all universities, lack of freedom of expression remains a consistent
student complaint. The Komiteh Enzebaati [Disciplinary Committee] in universities
has become a major source of censorship and suppression of freethinking.
Students who raise undesirable issues in class or among themselves will
be called in later for the violation of unwritten speech codes. (22)
Concerned about the radical influence and left-leaning tendencies of
the DTV, the Jame'eh-ye Roohaaniyat-e Mobaarez (The Militant Clergy Association,
hereafter as JRM) and its conservative ally, the Jamiyat-e Motalefeh Eslaami
(the Society of Islamic Coalition, hereafter JME) felt the need to influence
developments in universities and gain support for their programs among
students. In 1979, with the encouragement from Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
and Seyed Ali Khamenei, a student named Heshmatollah Tabarzadi and a number
of his friends, who had earlier worked in the Markaze Shohadaaye Haftaado-dutan
[The Cultural Center for 72 Martyrs] and had close ties to them, joined
the DTV's Central Council. (23) Within the Council, Tabarzadi promoted
policies countering the leftist students. Soon the DTV had two unannounced
factions: Khate Emaami-ha [The Line of Imam Students], associated with
the leftist faction, and the more conservative and smaller faction supporting
the JRM. Tabarzadi represented the latter faction. This faction started
its own separate activities in 1983.(24)
After 1988, when the JRM broke into two factions during the third parliamentary
elections and the Majma-e Roohaaniyoon-e Mobaarez-e Tehran (Tehran Militant
Clerics League, hereafter MRMT) was created, the DTV moved closer to the
MRMT. With the decline of the leftist faction's fortune during 1989-1996,
the DTV lost its influence within the government - an issue I will discuss
later. Many of its influential members began careers in political journalism
and joined the leftist papers such as Salaam and Asr-e Maa. Some joined
followers of Abdolkarim Soroush in the monthly Kiyaan.
3.5. The Tabarzadi Group or the EEADD: In 1987, Heshmatollah
Tabarzadi broke rank with the DTV. He established the Ettehaadiyeh Eslaami-ye
Anjoman-haaye Daaneshjooyaan-e Daaneshgaah-haa va Maraakez-e 'Amoozesh-e
'Ali [Islamic Union of Associations of University Students and Higher Educational
Centers, known as Tabarzadi Group] and himself became its first General
Secretary. When he graduated from the university, Tabarzadi changed the
name of the association to Ettehaadiyeh Eslaami-ye Anjoman-haaye Daaneshjooyaan
va Daanesh-'amookhtegaan-e Daaneshgaah-haa va Maraakez-e 'Amoozesh-e 'Ali
[the Islamic Union of Islamic Associations of Students and Alumni of Universities
and Other Higher Educational Centers, hereafter EEADD], thus enabling it
to remain in operation.
Although the EEADD sounded like a student organization, it was not.
Article 12 of its constitution stipulated that "the organization consists
of members from the following six groups: university students, teachers,
educated [Farhangiyaan], university alumni [Daanesh-'amookhtegaan], workers,
and civil servants."(25) The EEADD's strength was in its vocal, ambitious,
astute character of its secretary, not in its small following, which did
not even compare with the DTV. In 1988, it published its first magazine,
Naameh-ye Payaam-e Daaneshjoo-ye Basiji.
3.6. Student Apathy and Alienation: A general characteristic
of student movements is their criticism of the establishment. These movements
are often critical of conditions harmful to freedom of thinking, growth
of knowledge, and the development of society. When a student movement loses
this criticality and becomes associated with the establishment, it no longer
attracts students' attention. One of the reasons we see no sign of a lively
student movement during 1981-1989 in Iran is that student activism became
a part of the government structure. When the structure of universities
and their curriculum are controlled by the state, it is no surprise that
there are no independent student movements.
In the decade and a half after the Cultural Revolution, the student
movement was an "official movement" in which student organizations
were part of the government structures. Their members were screened for
their ideological loyalty and were mobilized for official causes.(26) This
resulted in alienation of the majority of students from these bodies. Rampant
fear of members of Islamic student associations as spies for government
and the heavy presence of government agents on campuses resulted in widespread
apathy and political disenchantment. These associations had lost their
appeal as organizations in which genuine student concerns were to be addressed
and issues were to be analyzed critically and creatively - functions usually
associated with student organizations around the world. (27)
4. The Student Movement during Rafsanjani's Presidency
Up until now, the political tendencies and conflicts within the ruling
clergy coexisted without any open confrontation. Ayatollah Khomeini was
able to skillfully mediate or suppress them, if necessary. Also, all political
factions and influential leaders in the IRI courted Islamic Student Associations,
even though there were efforts to exploit these organizations for factional
causes. With Khomeini's death in June 1989, these conflicts and tendencies
erupted. Factionalism began to shape the events of the next decade. Universities
did not remain unaffected by this development. Islamic Associations in
universities began to reflect these political tendencies more clearly.
There were two visible trends among the student organizations. Students
following the first trend viewed and supported the clergy as the true representative
of Islamic ideals and saw their task as acting in the interest of the state.(28)
Students following the second trend believed that they were revolutionary
vanguards who should remain vigilant against the penetrating forces of
the enemies, as well as uphold the original values of the revolution. (29)
The former was under the influence of the JRM and the latter was close
to the MRMT and the MSFIL. The former group was also receiving support
and encouragement from the JME. At this juncture, Tabarzadi's EEADD was
supportive of Rafsanjani and worked closely with the rightist faction (which
included both the JME and the JRM).
Prior to his death, Khomeini had ordered a revision of the constitution,
thus preparing the ground for his political absence. Immediately after
his death, the revised constitution was approved, Khamenei was promoted
to the rank of Ayatollah and appointed as the Leader, and Rafsanjani was
elected as the new President. At this time, Khamenei and Rafsanjani felt
that they had to do away with the unpredictability and instability of the
earlier revolutionary policies, which were effective at destroying the
old structures but detrimental to normalization of the status of the IR
in the world scene. Rafsanjani gathered a coalition of technocrats interested
in reconstructing the war economy by privatizing industries, attracting
foreign capital, reorganizing earlier labor-management relationships, and
reversing the declining standard of living. To achieve these objectives,
the IR also had to warm up to the West by toning down the revolutionary
rhetoric in its foreign policy and normalizing its relationships with the
conservative Arab countries in the region.
The most visible characteristic of new developments was a departure
from the past revolutionary policies and a return to normalcy. Radical
individuals who had served in high-ranking positions during Khomeini's
rule were isolated and pushed out of the mainstream. Meritocracy and specialization
were to replace mere revolutionary commitment and loyalty to clergy as
criteria for appointment to government positions. Student radicalism was
also to be controlled. Starting on November 4, 1991, the government brought
the anniversary of the Embassy takeover under its own control, thus signaling
the end to the radicalism of the DTV.
These policies and changes did not sit well with the conservative clerics
in the JRM and merchants affiliated with the JME. Though their slogan during
the fifth parliamentary election was "Follow the Imam, obey the Leadership,
and support Hashemi," they did not appreciate Rafsanjani's cultural
openness and reliance on technocratic solutions to economic matters. Even
during the election the hard-liners discovered that their tactical alliance
might not work well for them. They changed their slogan to "social
justice and extension of popular participation and supervision."(30)
These developments impacted Islamic associations and their memberships.
While radical students in the DTV questioned the political aspects of some
of these policies, others were concerned with their resultant economic
displacement among social groups. In general, radical students began to
feel divorced from the rightist faction. They complained of corruption
by government officials both inside and outside of universities and argued
for protection of the poor in the face of the newly adopted economic liberalization.
These complaints were expressed through writing and lecturing.
Students affiliated with the JRM, who were originally supporters of
Rafsanjani and had helped him and Khamenei to isolate the leftist faction
in the fourth parliamentary elections in 1991, expressed concerns about
cultural laxity and financial corruption among Rafsanjani allies in the
government. In 1994, the EEADD engaged in the most daring political challenge
to the Kaargozaaraan-e Saazandegi [Executives of Construction].(31) They
made a series of allegations against Rafsanjani family, his associates,
and the Bonyaad Mostazafaan va Jaanbaazaan [Foundation of the Oppressed
and War Veterans, hereafter BMJ] in the Naameh-ye Payaam-e Daaneshjoo-ye
Basiji. The right began to fight back. After an early complaint, Tabarzadi
had to drop the word "Basiji" from the title of the weekly. Later,
it was warned that it should stop "telling lies and defaming public
officials." Continuing its revelations, the EEADD was forced to vacate
its office because it was owned by the BMJ. In June 1995, the Ansar ransacked
their office and several members were injured. No one was arrested. In
1996, the Daftar-e Rahbari [The Office of Leadership] informed Tabarzadi
that "his work was no longer satisfactory to them," (32) thus
cutting any relationship that had existed up to that point. Two weeks later,
Naameh-ye Payaam-e Daaneshjoo was banned and Tabarzadi was barred from
serving as an editor for five years.
5. The Student Movement during Khatami's Presidency
5.1. Structural Changes in the Iranian universities and Society:
Khatami's election in 1997 was a turning point in the life of the student
movement in the IRI. The Iran of 1997 was no longer the same country inherited
by Khomeini in 1979 or by Khamenei and Rafsanjani in 1989. The number of
students in universities and higher education institutions, which originally
declined from 140,000 before the revolution to 117,148 after the cultural
revolution (1982-83 academic year), began to have an annual growth rate
of 13 percent for the decade of 1980s. After the war with Iraq, the student
body increased at a higher rate. Prior to Khatami's election [5/23/1997],
there were 1,150,000 students in Iranian universities and higher education
institutions.(33) Facing increasing unemployment, high inflation, and bleak
economic outlook, many students had lost hope in being able to secure a
decent future.(34) Alienation, disillusion, frustration, depression, and
deviance among youth of all ages had increased considerably. Iranian journals
were full of reports of despair, anomie, and hopelessness among the youth.(35)
Social problems were aggravated by vigilantes' constant intrusion into
the lives of the youth and women, who were forced to comply with strict
Islamic codes of dress and behavior. With the doubling in size of the population
between 1978 and 1996, the number of institutions of higher education increased
as well. Since the revolution, the composition of the student body in universities
has changed dramatically. During the Pahlavi era, most students entering
the Iranian universities were males from urban centers. In the early years
of the monarchy, most of these students were from upper middle and upper
classes. After the Shah's White Revolution , more middle class and
few bright lower class students found their way to universities. The oil
boom of the 1970s opened universities to many more lower and lower-middle
In the early 1980s, many secular students and those affiliated with
non-Islamic political organizations were purged from universities. A significant
number of upper and upper-middle class families sent their sons and daughters
to universities abroad. As a result of this and other government policies,
the number of rural and lower class students in state universities increased
tremendously. The emphasis on moral admission standards, as well as the
admission quotas for war veteran family members, Basijis, Paasdaars, and
other favored groups, changed the character of the student body both qualitatively
and quantitatively. Poorer but more traditional students entered these
universities. Middle and upper middle class students failing to make it
to state universities found it easier to pay higher tuition for the Islamic
Azaad universities. In the second decade of the IR rule, another trend
in the university admission emerged: increasing female admission to universities
and in varied fields.(36) In 1999, for the first time in the history of
the Iranian higher education, the number of female students admitted to
universities surpassed the number of admitted male students by a figure
of about 20,000. (37) This represents four percent higher admission rate
for female students than that of male students.
5.2. Rebirth of Student Activism and the Conservative Reaction: The
election of Mohammad Khatami as president was the result of an unprecedented
coalition of several forces in the Iranian society: disenchanted and angry
masses of youth and women, politically isolated and angry supporters of
the Islamic left (the DTV, the MRMT, and the Saazemaan-e Mojaahedin-e Enqelaab-e
Eslaami [the Islamic Revolution Holy Warriors Organization, hereafter SMEE]),
the Kaargozaaraan-e Saazandegi, the NAI, and a large segment of the Iranian
public variably dissatisfied with the policies of the IR. Khatami's election
gave rise to an unprecedented new form of student activism in universities.
In fact, student participation in the election and support for Khatami
were crucial in bringing him to power.
The movement that brought Khatami to power reshaped the landscape of
student organizations. Since Tabarzadi was no longer a student and had
lost his membership in the DTV, he began to encourage the development of
a series of parallel student organizations outside of the EEADD. Though
he was hoping to push his agenda through these organizations, the newly
established organizations took on a life of their own and became major
players in the events of July 1999. These organizations included the Jebhe-ye
Mottahede-ye Daaneshjoo-i" [the United Student Front], the Anjoman-e
Defaa az Zendaaniyaane Siyaasi [Society for Defense of Political Prisoners,
hereafter ADZS] and the Anjoman-e Daaneshjooyaan-e Roushanfekr [Society
of Intellectual Students, hereafter ADR] - all three members of the EEADD.
Manouchehr Mohammadi organized the latter two. Mohammadi was a Basiji student
who had entered the university through the quota system allocated for Basij.
He was one of the founders of a student organization originally supported
by the conservative faction in the IR: the Jaame'eh-ye Eslaami-ye Daaneshjooyaan-e
Daaneshkadeh-ye Eqtesaad-e Daaneshgaah-e Tehran [Society of Islamic Students
in the College of Economics, Tehran University]. Mohammadi failed to pass
several of his courses and was first put under probation and then expelled
from the university. (38)
The conservatives viewed these developments with alarm and surprise.
In reaction to widespread support for Khatami in universities, the conservative
members of the Majles introduced a new bill for establishing a Basij unit
in each university in order "to defend the achievements of the Islamic
Revolution and advance Basiji thinking." The measure was meant to
keep the activities of the DTV and other student groups under control.
On October 4, 1998, the bill was approved. To supervise the implementation
of these units, the "Shoraaye 'Ali-ye Hamaahangi va Hemaayat az Basij-e
Daaneshjoo-i" [the High Council for Coordination and Support of Student
Basij] was established. (39) A major task of these units, in addition to
encouraging student participation in "educational plans," was
to engage in "disciplinary activities" in universities. The DTV
opposed the new measure. Referring to a measure approved by the Council
for Cultural Revolution in 1990, according to which the Basiji could recruit
members in universities, the DTV questioned the motivation behind the new
bill. According to the DTV's statement, the new measure was to help conservatives
to "monopolize universities."(40) In response, the political
officer of the Student Basij in Tehran University indicated that the earlier
measure did not allow it "to play its role in a desired manner."(41)
These new Basiji unites became a major source of grievance for students
on campuses because their activities were interruptive, suppressive, and
Despite these measures, the conservatives could not lose sight of the
great danger re-emergence of student activities posed for the regime. A
month after the establishment of these units, Hojatoleslam Irandoust argued
that their existence was necessary for "Islamization of universities."
He warned: "student organizations in universities are like a two-edged
sword. If the management in the university does not pay adequate attention,
they can become a major obstacle in the implementation of [Basij] units.
Political organizations are necessary but the danger and damages of non-Islamic
organizations are grave."(42)
To counter Khatami's liberalization policies and dampen any hope of
revitalization of the opposition to the regime, a group of intelligence
officers intensified their earlier policy of physical elimination of intellectual
and political opposition to the IR. On November 22, 1998, a group of agents
brutally murdered Daryoush Forouhar, the leader of the Hezbe Mellate Iran
[the Nation Party of Iran], and his wife Parvaneh Eskandari. A few weeks
later, several Iranian intellectuals, Majid Sharif, Mohammad Jafar Pooyandeh,
and Mohammad Mokhtari were abducted and murdered. These murders, and the
manner, in which they were carried out, shocked the nation. The revelation
that agents from the Ministry of Intelligence were responsible for these
murders added to the public demands for accountability in the government
and security for citizens. Public protests during the funeral services
of these personalities added fuel to the burning desires of the nation
for political freedom and punishment of the perpetrators. Students became
an important element of these protests. These events brought various students
groups closer to one another and fueled their nationalist sentiments. Tabarzadi's
EEADD, some elements of the DTV, and many other students started to develop
a sympathetic attitude toward nationalist, secular, and leftist opposition.(43)
Pictures of Mossadeq, a national hero shunned by the conservatives, were
displayed in student rallies, even in rallies by the DTV.
These events, and the repressive measures taken by the conservative
forces in the judiciary, security forces, and the Ministry of Intelligence,
resulted in further radicalization of the students in universities. The
DTV became an active supporter of Khatami's reform measures and engaged
in numerous protests opposing conservative attacks on his policies. Whenever
there was a confrontation between Khatami's supporters and conservatives,
students were quick to defend socio-political freedom, human rights, and
democratic change. Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, the leader of the EEADD, became
a Khatami supporter and increased his political activities. He also had
a change of heart regarding the Velaayate Faqih [the rule of supreme jurisprudence]
- something he had supported and worked for in the past. In several demonstrations
he issued resolutions calling for an election and limitation on the tenure
of the Leadership, i.e. the Vali-ye Faqih. In April, 1999, he began a new
paper called Hoviyat-e Khish, in which he continued to attack "political
despotism" in the IR and explained how the ruling groups had abused
religious sentiments for political gains. The paper was banned after three
issues and Tabarzadi and Hossein Kashani, its editor, were arrested in
6. The July Protests
6.1. Politics of Protest in Universities: The emergence of popular
protest against the IR government in Iran is not new. Since the death of
Ayatollah Khomeini, the IRI has experienced several mass protests.(44)
Many of these protests have been economic in nature. The economic hardships
resulting from the war, mismanagement, corruption, and decline in industrial
production, and increasing migration of the rural population to cities
have eroded the aspirations of the disadvantaged Iranians who bought into
the popular promises of the revolution. This latest student protest, though
not motivated by economic factors, is the last in the list of uprisings
in the IRI. Though this latest uprising has a lot to do with political
developments in the country, it represents the strongest manifestation
of the structural crises unsettling the IRI.
To understand the complicated nature of the latest protests and how
they evolved, it is important to make some distinctions between different
kinds of student protests in the IRI. Grievances provoking student reactions
have been of two kinds: political and non-political. Non-political grievances
include lack of resources, teachers, adequate housing, quality food, and
mistreatment of students. The government has always been sensitive to any
collective action by students, even non-political ones. Therefore, even
non-political demands have been treated as political, and student rallies
for such grievances have often been quickly dispersed or crushed brutally
in cases of non-compliance. While Ayatollah Khomeini was alive, there were
no serious student collective actions against the IR government. Most student
rallies were orchestrated by the government and in support of its causes.
Student rallies against state policies began during Rafsanjani administration.
Again, as indicated above, many of these rallies were factional in nature
and involved students from the DTV. However, in the early 1990s we begin
to see independent student rallies against university policies affecting
student lives. Iranian universities began to experience two sets of protest
distinguishable by their factional nature. Non-factional protests are those
not motivated or supported by any of the political factions among the ruling
clerics. They may or may not be political, but are treated as political
and are more threatening to the IR than the factional ones. If not controlled
quickly, they have a tendency to tap into the general frustrations generated
by the political and economic policies of the IR. The state is very keen
to thwart these sources of dissatisfaction and not allow them to surface.
These types of rallies were usually spontaneous and in response to problems
affecting students' academic or physical well being. They were often small,
involving 50-500 students, and took place in most universities around the
country. For instance, in 1997 there were sit-ins against food poisoning,
water poisoning, and lack of teachers, laboratories, and classrooms in
many universities. (45) The two biggest non-political grievances causing
serious difficulties for the regime were the housing issue in the Shahid
Beheshti University and the quality of food in Tehran University in January
1997. When hard-line vigilantes intervened and attacked students, the protests
turned violent. Students were beaten, windows were broken, and food was
thrown on the floor. (46) The last two years have seen numerous rallies
and sit-ins in universities, especially in the Islamic Azaad universities.
A major cause of these is the non-responsiveness of the officials to students'
concerns. Just prior to the July unrest in Tehran University, there were
several public protests by students in the Islamic Azaad universities in
Lar, Qum, Tehran, Qa-emshahr, and Mash-had.(47)
Factional protests are often prompted by political disputes outside
of universities. Student organizations, especially the DTV, which is a
supporter of leftist faction, have been dragged into the fight, thus engaging
in building pressure against the conservatives. For instance, this year
students held numerous rallies, issued several statements, and passed many
resolutions against various conservative policies initiated by the Judiciary
and the Majles for preventing the reformist from gaining power. These policies
include the Guardian Council's Nezaarat-e Esteswaabi [Approbatory Supervision,
based on which the Council can disqualify any candidate deemed undesirable
without any explanation], the proposed Bill for Revision of the Press Laws,
and the arrest of Hojatoleslam Kadivar and Tehran Mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi.(48)
The strategy of the reformists, as formulated by Said Hajarian, one of
the closest allies and advisors to President Khatami, is "to build
up pressure at the bottom but negotiate at the top."(49) As I will
discuss in the next section, the July events started as a factional protest,
went through a non-factional phase, and ended by a factional coalition.
Though they began as a spontaneous reaction to the brutal attack on student
hostels, parts of events were factionally engineered.(50)
6.2. Developments Leading to the Attack: Conservative forces
had been discussing the idea of a massive intervention in order to intimidate
the enemies of the Valet-e Faqih, with a justification religiously known
as "Nosrat-e belra'b" [victory by using fear], for sometimes.
(51) During the months May and June 1999, their newspapers published numerous
complaints against student activities violating the sanctities of Islam
and the IR. These complaints often carried a warning that if the Khatami
administration did not stop these student demonstrations, "people,"
"families of martyrs," and "devotees of Islam and the revolution"
would intervene and take the matters in their own hands. On May 5, 1999,
Abrar, a newspaper affiliated with the conservative faction, went further
and predicted that these "refuses of the World Arrogance" [a
reference to the United States] would be purged from the student scene
"in an appropriate time" or "even maybe soon." There
were countless hints in other conservative papers that things in the student
quarters, especially regarding the DTV and student groups organized outside
of universities - like groups affiliated with Heshmatollah Tabarzadi and
Manouchehr Mohammadi - were getting out of hand and an intervention was
On July 7, 1999, the Majles approved the outlines of a tough new press
law. The day before, Salaam, a radical newspaper run by leftist cleric
Ayatollah Mohammad Mousavi-Khoeiniha, had published a letter written by
Said Emami, the intelligent officer who had masterminded the serial murders
and allegedly killed himself in prison. The letter basically argued against
the freedom of the press and for tougher press laws. Following an intelligence
ministry complaint for publishing a "top secret" document, Salaam
was ordered closed.
6.3. The Attack on the Student Dormitory: At 9:30 P.M. on July
8, 1999, some 200 students, mostly affiliated with the DTV, staged a peaceful
protest in front of their dormitories at the Koo-ye Daaneshgaah-e Tehran
in Amiraabaad. Students left their compound and moved their rallies into
Jalal Al-Ahmad Avenue. Local security forces intervened and demanded students
return to their hostels. The students ended their demonstration and returned
to the campus. A few students remained in front of the dormitory and continued
their conversations. Around 00:45 A.M. on July 9, the Acting Chief of Tehran
Police arrived on the scene in plain clothes. With him, large groups of
security forces also arrived. He engaged in a discussion with the students.
The director of the dormitory complex also arrived and attempted to persuade
the Acting Chief to move his forces away. The dormitory was surrounded
by security forces [Niroohaaye Entezaami], the anti-riot police [yegaan-e
Vizheh], and some plain-clothed individuals, whom were thought to be the
Ansar. Both groups were engaged in shouting slogans for and against political
freedom, student movement, and Khatami's reforms. The situation was tense
and a serious confrontation was imminent. Fear spread among the students
and many began to join the crowd outside of the compound.
Having learned about a planned attack that would "finish the matter
once and for all,"(53) several officials from Khatami administration
rushed to the scene in the hope of defusing the situation.(54) The Interior
Minister ordered the security forces to leave the scene but they refused.
With the intervention of Mostafa Tajzadeh, the Political and Security Deputy
of Interior Ministry, students returned to their dormitories assured that
there would not be any attack or retaliation. Convinced that there would
be no attack anymore, government officials also left the scene. However,
the security forces and the plain clothed forces remained.
By 3:30 A.M., "an organized force of some 400 men - wearing uniforms
of black trousers and white shirts and carrying distinctive blue batons
- broke into the dormitories, systematically ransacked student rooms, and
assaulted students indiscriminately. They beat them with the blue batons
and threw some of them out of windows. They also took many students into
detention." (55) In words of a lawyer and Human Rights Watch researcher,
the attackers were "not the irregular mob of zealots known as the
Ansar-e Hezbollah," as was perceived and reported by most media. This
"was an altogether more disciplined and more sinister force that was
bused to the student dormitories for a specific task, carried it out with
ruthless efficiency, and then withdrew as stealthily as it had appeared,
taking with it dozens of students who have not been seen since."(56)
All newspaper accounts refer to this group as "pressure groups"
or the Ansar-e Hezbollah. A clue to their identity is found in the Report
issued by the Investigative Committee of the Supreme National Security
Council [hereafter SNSC]. The report speaks of two kinds of "plain-clothed
individuals" at the scene, a group affiliated with the security forces
and another "from the known groups." The report also refers to
"some other individuals" and to the acronym "NOPO"
and the presence of its commander.(57) As we learn from a short note in
Iran Farda magazine, NOPO stands for Niroo-haaye Vizheh-ye Payro-e Velaayat
[Special Forces Following the Supreme Leader]. This is a secretly trained
force for special operations.(58)
The attacks were massive, damages vast, and casualties high. Students
themselves were not the only targets. Rooms were searched, personal properties
were destroyed, cash found in the rooms was taken, and pictures and books
were torn and/or burned. Ten buildings and 800 rooms were damaged. Windows
of some houses and cars parked in Kargar Shomaali Avenue were also broken.
The injured were taken to Shariati and Imam Khomeini hospitals. According
to an official in Shariati Hospital, most injured were transferred to Security
Forces' Hospital immediately.(59) Iranian newspapers reported five people
killed and dozens more wounded.(60) Security forces denied the killing
and claimed one death and three injured.
These attacks were so severe and the damages were so extensive that
they could neither be covered up nor left without a response. Government
officials and religious leaders began to offer their apologies to the students
for what had taken place. The Minister of Culture and Higher Education
and the chancellor of Tehran University as well as the heads of 18 colleges
offered their resignation in protest. Khatami condemned the deadly raid
and asked for calm. The news of the attack brought thousands of students
together in protest, first in Tehran University, and later in universities
in eight other cities. Events in Tabriz also had turned violent and claimed
a life. However, they did not receive national attention until days after
the unrest ended.
The Islamic Student Association of the University of Tehran condemned
the attack and called for a sit-in protest on campus at 11:00 A.M.(61)
Students began to differ on how to proceed. The DTV wanted to stay on campus
and press for their demands. A group of students, referred to by a report
as "populists," wanted to expand the protest and involve the
public.(62) While the former group stayed on campus and continued its protest,
the latter group took to the streets. Thousands of students took to the
streets to demand the dismissal of police chief Hedayat Lotfian, the man
behind most crackdowns of student protests in Tehran.(63) The government
said it had arrested a Tehran police commander and his deputy, and a third
officer had already been disciplined over the bloody incident. However,
it refused to meet students' other demands, especially removal of Lotfian.
Numerous Khatami supporters went to student rallies and tried to convince
them to remain calm and not allow "saboteurs" and "infiltrators"
take advantage of their cause.
Student demands kept changing with the developments. Their original
protest prior to the raid was against the new press law and the closure
of Salaam. After the raid, their demands centered around the return of
victim's bodies, removal of the head of security forces, identification
and punishment of plain clothed individuals involved in the raid, the accountability
for the attack by the Leader, an apology to students for insults they were
subjected to during the raid, medical and psychological attention for the
injured, compensation for damages, and so on. In the subsequent days, as
the government remained slow in responding to their demands, the students
became bolder and more frustrated, thus using more critical and radical
slogans. With the increasing violence from the security forces and vigilantes,
student slogans also became more violent in both expression and content.
On July 12, Ayatollah Khamenei addressed a select group of students,
condemning the use of force by police as "unacceptable and warning
the students of plots by foreign enemies. He also asked the Basij and security
forces to deal with "agitators" and "seditious elements"
who had penetrated the student ranks vigorously. The government announced
a ban on demonstrations to quell the unrest. Up to this point, student
demonstrations were spontaneous reaction to the attack. However, from this
point on, the events enter into a different mode.
6.4. The Crackdown: Cutting the Losses and Going on an Offensive:
The conservative forces had planned to punish students and teach them
a lesson so that there would be no more student protests. They made three
costly mistakes. First, they assumed that it was the end of the semester
and final exams had finished. True, it was the end of the semester but
for some reasons final exams had been postponed for a week, and students
were still preparing for exams. Second, they assumed that an attack on
students would go un-noticed by the public and there would be no major
reaction, as was the case with previous raids. Events turned out to be
different. On that night, people in Amiraabaad area came to the protection
of the students, joined them in their protest, and gave refuge to students
running from police attacks. Third, up until now the Khatami administration
had refused to intervene in various operations by the Ansar and security
forces. The conservative thought that this time would not be any different.
In fact, it was. Knowing that a plot was in the work, Khatami administration's
officials showed up on the scene and attempted to avert the raid. This
intervention, plus active exposure given to the events by the reformist
newspapers like Neshat, Khordad, and Sob-he Emrooz, publicized and exposed
the nature of the operation. The depth of brutality applied, the identity
of the forces involved, and the deterioration of the relationships between
the two major political factions within the IR were also exposed.(64) In
the words of an anonymous university professor in Tehran, quoted by a reporter,
''now Khatami is the hero again, the reformist students the martyrs and
the traditionalists (conservatives) the bad guys and the big losers,''(65)
Having lost the battle in the first round, the conservatives pulled
their act and forces together and put a damage control mechanism into place.
They saw to it that the public sympathy toward students be transformed
into antipathy by creating the image of imminent political chaos and social
instability. On July 13, when thousands of students gathered outside Tehran
University defying the ban on demonstrations, the club-wielding Ansars
provoked student rallies into violence. Anti-riot police interrupted sit-ins
rallies, attacked students, and arrested as many as they could. While the
DTV attempted to keep students calm and inside the campus, some students
responded to the Ansar, Basijis, and security forces. Violence broke out
and the situation got out of control. Students barricaded themselves inside
the campus and neighboring streets. Police sealed off the area. Armed with
batons and tear gas, riot police, Basiji force, and the Ansar battled with
students in the streets surrounding Tehran University. A cinema and several
banks were vandalized, and a dozen cars were set on fire. Protests spread
to other cities despite appeals for calm by the clerical, religious-nationalist,
and DTV leaders. Soon, the IR government whose Secretary of the Expediency
Council, Mohsen Rezaie, had characterized as "one in which there is
zero possibility of violence" just a month earlier, was engulfed in
the most massive violent protest since its inception. (66)
Khatami supporters, the DTV, and many professional and cultural associations
defending reforms planned a demonstration supporting students for Tuesday,
July 13. The security forces and conservatives lost no time in hijacking
this event. They announced a larger and wider demonstration in support
of the "system" for Wednesday, July 14, and all other demonstrations
were banned. The Khatami administration, his reformist supporters, and
even the DTV felt bounded to support the call. Tens of thousands of Khamenei
supporters and government functionaries were bussed to Tehran. The demonstration
was meant to be a show of force and determination by the conservative forces
and support for the Leader. Many Khatami supporters who showed up at the
rally were identified and beaten up. Khatami's pictures were taken down
and no slogan un-supportive of Ayatollah Khamenei was allowed to be displayed.
On July 19, Kayhan published the text of a letter written to President
Khatami by 24 senior officers in the Sepaah-e Paasdaaraan four days after
the attack. The letter denounced the President for policies that were heading
the IR toward anarchy. Warning that they could not "stand by idly
watching" the ruins, Paasdaaraan warned the President that they might
have to take matters into their own hands because their "reservoir
of patience" was "running low." Two weeks later, the Ansar
official paper, Ya Lessarsat al-Hossein, suggested "arming the Ansar
for a better defense of the revolution" - a suggestion which had been
made to the SNSC a decade ago.(68) A week later, re-affirmiting their commitment
to the "Imam" and the "system," 50,000 Basijis gathered
in a military camp in Tehran and engaged in exercises in preparation for
fighting the enemies of the revolution. (69)
6.5. The Blame Game, Continued Arrests, and Closed Door Trials: In
the subsequent days, the Intelligence Ministry called on all Iranians to
turn in protesters. The United States and other foreign countries were
blamed for instigating unrest. The Investigative Committee established
for looking into events by the SNSC, chaired by the President, issued its
report.(70) The report said little about the causes of the unrest and the
identity of plain-clothed security forces. It minimized the planned nature
of the raid by faulting the agitated mood of the students and the presence
of pressure groups on the scene.(71) It also mentioned that the security
forces were not prepared for the task and that an acting commander had
behaved inappropriately. Clearly, the report was a compromise between the
members of the two factions in the SNSC.
The DTV accused the security forces and their allies, the Ansar, for
being behind the original attack and later violence. Referring to the violence
in Tehran, DTV spokesman Ali Afshari said: "Everything was suspect
from the beginning. From the extent of the damage throughout Tehran and
the speed with which it was carried out, it could not possibly have been
the work of students." He claimed that "the way the riots spread
into different neighborhoods was clearly the work of professionals."(72)
Abbas Abdi, the editor of banned Salaam and one of the MSFIL, saw "the
source of the attack in the same "clique" [Mahfel] who committed
serial killings."(73) Mohammad Salaamati, the General Secretary of
the SMEE, expressed the same view.(74)
While pro-Khatami papers claimed that the conservatives orchestrated
the violence in a bid against Khatami government, the conservatives denied
any responsibility and accused pro-Khatami papers of encouraging students
and creating an atmosphere of crisis.(75) Asadollah Badamchian, one of
the most influential leaders of the JME, argued that the "left"
provoked the security forces to this action in order to create "a
few martyrs" for their cause.(76) Masoud Dehnamaki, an Ansar leader,
rejected any involvement by the Ansar and argued that "events were
guided by the extreme left."(77) Ayatollah Jannati, the Chair of the
Guardian Council, reduced the cause of the event to "mistakes by several
officers on the scene" and criticized the report by the Investigative
Committee of the SNSC. He stated that "this attack [on students] had
nothing to do with the regime. Mistakes by a few officers have nothing
to do with the government or the system."(78) In a statement issued
on July 26, 1999, the Intelligence Ministry accused "the nationalists,
Monaafeqin [a reference to the Mojaahedin-e Khalq-e Iran), Marxists, and
communists, with the support of "imperialists and Zionists" of
penetrating student ranks and planning to "create chaos" and
"damage the Islamic system."
Conservative forces working in the Intelligence Ministry and Judiciary
went on a broad offensive. Students were arrested in herds. Opposition
leaders were either arrested or called in for interrogation. Complaints
were lunched against editors and writers for their comments and views contrary
to national interest, Islam, and the leadership. Salaam, which was supposed
to resume publication during the unrest, remained closed, and later its
owner was tried and convicted of violating press laws. Secret trials were
held for student leaders. Several students were forced to confess to minor,
and often irrelevant, contacts with the Iranian opposition abroad. On September
21, 1999, the head of Tehran's revolutionary tribunal claimed that his
tribunal had exclusive jurisdiction over the student case and "he
might or might not deem it necessary to consider the findings" of
the Investigative Committee of the SNSC. He also announced that four alleged
ringleaders of the unrest had been condemned to death at a closed-door
hearing, without providing students' names.(79) This was the first announcement
of the outcome of legal proceedings against the roughly 1,500 individuals
arrested in connection with the riots. Another revolutionary court sentenced
21 students to prison sentences of between three months and nine years
for simultaneous unrest in Tabriz. On October 17, 1999, the Tehran tribunal
sentenced another student to two and half years in jail in connection with
the unrest. On the same day, a report in Araya weekly indicated that Maryam
(Malus) Radnia, a member of the "Shoraaye Daaneshjooyaan-e Motehassen"
[Student Sit-In Council] involved in directing demonstrations, had been
sentenced to death. On October 28, Quds daily reported that the revolutionary
tribunal has sentenced Manouchehr Mohammadi, leader of the ADZS and ADR,
to 13 years in prison. The news of these closed door trials, forced confessions,
torture, and interrogation of arrested students have shocked Iranian intellectuals,
opposition forces inside and outside the country, international human rights
organization, and even foreign governments. They have asked that these
convictions be overturned. President Khatami has expressed hope that the
Leader would pardon these students and save them from the execution. The
DTV has also denounced these trials and asked for open trials and better
treatment of arrested students. The security forces have put a tight control
over the information about the attack on the dormitory, police reaction,
court procedures, and the students involved. On October 29, acting on a
complaint by police over publication of the photos of the bloody attack,
a court ordered a student magazine called Anjoman to be closed. (80)
6.6. Organization and Demands of Protesters: The emergence of
these protests was both natural and accidental, just like the election
of Mohammad Khatami to presidency in 1997. Natural because this is what
happens when there are violations of basic human rights, political oppression,
and economic inequality. Accidental because these protests were not planned.
They were spontaneous reactions to harmful and threatening situations.
The conservative might have had a plan of action but the students did not.
Given the fact that the developments were momentum-driven rather than planned,
it was no surprise that the government could end it quickly and effectively
with less physical and human damage than is often seen in a similar situation.
Massive protests following the pre-mediated attack on the dormitory
were spontaneous but lacked leadership and coordination between various
student associations involved.(81) Even the SMEE, whose members have been
implicated indirectly by the conservatives in encouraging student protests,
acknowledges this fact. Behzad Nabavi, the leader of the organization,
argued that if the student movement was not so diffused, the dormitory
tragedy could have been prevented and the movement could have been guided
through the turbulence.(82) Therefore, given the organizational nature
of these protests, they had reached their limit. The students had suffered
enormously and the regime was not willing to make any serious concession.
The conservatives were determined to use massive force, if necessary, to
end the riots. The students were disorganized and there was no plan of
action. As the protests became violent and reached beyond the campus, support
for the students paled and became limited and haphazard. Pro-Khatami forces,
even those not affiliated with the establishment, were asking the students
to refrain from violence and let calm prevail.(83) The DTV also issued
numerous statements calling for calm and warning students against extremist
actions "desired by the enemies of Islam and the Islamic system."
Public support for the protests was also lukewarm. After the initial
open support for students who were beaten up in the dormitory, the public
showed no strong desire for expanding these protests beyond campuses. As
a primary school teacher put it in an interview with a Reuters' correspondent,
"people do not see a bright future with these acts. There is no leadership,
no organization. They are only afraid things will get worse than they already
Although it is not my intention to analyze all student demands and slogans,
it is important to pay attention to several important points about the
nature of these demands and how they compared with earlier student uprisings
(85): (a) The anti-imperialism and anti-Americanism of the pre-revolutionary
student movement were absent. This time, it was in the government organized
rallies that such slogans were used; (b) There were no slogans directly
demanding the overthrow of the IR; (c) There were no slogans against Khatami
and his administration. There were a number of slogans demanding the government
to live up to its promise of a civil society; (d) Ayatollahs Khamenei,
many officials affiliated with the conservative faction, conservative newspapers
like Resaalat and Kayhan, and the Ansar were targets of attack by the students
and were mentioned by name; (e) Students were asking the leaders of the
IR to be accountable for their actions and/or step aside. There were numerous
demands for good government. Opposition to despotic rule and return to
democracy and pluralism were repeated themes; (f) Students were asking
the public to join them and the police to stop the violation of citizens'
rights; (g) Nationalist sentiments underlined many slogans; (h) Students
connected their immediate concerns with those of political prisoners, including
Abbas Amir Entezam, Gholamhossein Karbaschi, and Hojatoleslam Mohsen Kadivar,
and for the victims of serial murders; (i) There was no slogan with clear
ideological mark, except for references to Islam. There were references
to the economic inequalities, social justice, and political democracy but
none bore the mark of any ideological camp such as socialism, capitalism,
or Marxism. There were a number of slogans demanding Islamic justice and
using Islamic symbolism; (j) There were numerous slogans characterizing
the IR as a system against rationality and modernity; (k) the underlying
issues concerning students included political democracy and basic human
rights such as freedoms of expression, assembly, and belief.
Except a direct attack on Ayatollah Khamenei and the demand for his
removal, none of the above demands were new. For the past three years at
least, students have been asking for transparency, accountability, integrity,
and fairness in the government.
7. Where to from Here?
These latest student protests, which were caused by legitimate concerns
and demands, had the potential to turn into a widespread general uprising
at the national level. Once it began to spread to other campuses, and resonated
with a public whose list of grievances were long, the regime realized the
danger, and engineered an effective control plan in order to re-establish
law and order in universities and give the image of being in control.
In the aftermath of these events, the IRI has begun a two-pronged strategy
of using carrot and stick intermittently. On one hand, the security and
intelligence forces have been interrogating, intimidating, and arresting
students, as well as leaders, of the splinter groups such as Mohammadi's
and Tabarzadi' organizations. They also have used the occasion to crackdown
on the activities of nationalist opposition groups like the Hezb-e Mellat-e
Iran, the Nehzate Azaadi-ye Iran, the Jebhe Melli Iran, and Pan Iranists.
The Ministry of Intelligence continues to charge these groups with ties
to the United States, Israel, and other foreign enemies. The government
has also been calling members of the DTV for interrogation and forcing
them to sign statements of non-participation in any future protest. These
arrests, call-ins, and intimidation are often done without public announcement
and exposure, though reports of them are often leaked to reformist papers
supporting President Khatami. These measures are meant to weaken, discredit
and frighten "ghayr-e khodi" [out-group] opposition groups and
individuals, as opposed to "khodis" [in-group]).(86) The conservatives
have made no secret of their determination to use all means available to
maintain their control of political institutions of the IR and to allow
no room for growth of secular and liberal Islamic opposition forces, especially
among the students where they have the strongest support.
On other hand, calling for a cease-fire in the factional fight,(87)
the conservatives have adopted a conciliatory and supportive attitude toward
student groups affiliated with Islamic factions. The latter groups have
also taken a similar approach. The DTV continues to criticize both the
harsh security measures used against students and the "subversive
radicalism and extremism of students who wish to destroy the Islamic system."
In the wake of the bloody attack and its subsequent widespread protests,
the conservatives have come to the conclusion that they have to get along
with the reformist faction and work together against what they have termed
"the third current," or "ghayr-e khodis," namely nationalists,
secularists, Marxists, and independent activists who do not support the
Islamic system.(88) This is a call that is received positively, but quietly,
by the DTV too.(89)
Given the fact that students were a major force in the revolution and
later in the establishment of an Islamic government, the IR cannot deny
students the right to be political. Unlike the Pahlavi state whose aim
was de-politicization of students, the IR has always supported politicization
of students as long as their political activities supported the state ideology
and policies. On numerous occasions the Islamic leaders have insisted that
students remain politically active.(90) At the same time, the bitter experiences
of the early years of the revolution, when various groups participating
in the revolution demanded a share of power and opposed the establishment
of a theocratic state, have made the leadership of the IR suspicious of
any opposition outside of the establishment, be it from students or political
parties. The IR cannot afford an independent student movement questioning
its policies, programs, and legitimacy. It is because of this ambivalence
that we have witnessed contradictory remarks by government officials regarding
the politicization of student activities. On one hand, Khamenei and Rafsanjani
argue that students should remain political. On the other hand, Ali Akbar
Nateq Nouri, the parliament speaker and an important leader of the conservative
coalition, tells the students to avoid engaging in politics.(91) One of
the problems facing the IR is that the clerical leadership has had difficulty
balancing its past with the future, its ideology with the practice, its
revolutionary rhetoric with the realities of political stability, and its
radicalism with its conservatism. The regime wants to have it both ways.
It wants to claim that students are free to organize and be politically
active, but only if they are Muslim and supporters of the IR. It wants
to have an active student body, but only if its activities support the
causes of the regime.
The upcoming parliamentary elections in February 1999 might create enough
tensions in universities to instigate another student rebellion. While
such a possibility is not remote, it is also certain that any student riot
will be met by unprecedented security measures. The regime knows that once
student riots begin in universities, they might easily spread to high schools
and main streets. However, regardless of what the IR government wishes,
it is on a path of increasing conflict with the students. Iran's population
is very young and that is a source of a major problem for this regime.
The Iranian youth are frustrated, angry, and restless. The more the IR
tightens the security, thus limiting young students' freedoms, the more
it adds to tensions which have already passed boiling level. These latest
protests and the government reaction to them have radicalized students
and given them more reasons to engage in future protests.
The immediate consequences of the suppression of this unrest are setbacks
for the re-emerging independent student organizations and secular activists.
In the short run, the emergence of independent, secular, and nationalist
student movement in the IRI has been stopped in the embryonic stage. However,
these events, and the level of frustration and resentment they have created,
have laid the ground for simultaneous disillusionment from the factionally
supported student organizations. Unconventional methods of resistance to
state policies, especially those regarding socio-political freedoms and
student life, will become more attractive to students who have already
paid a high price for their protests. The current student organizations
in universities are doomed for fractures and dismemberment. Given their
continued reliance on the political factions within the establishment,
and the conciliatory attitudes of their leaders regarding recent developments,
they are bound to lose momentum, enthusiasm, and members. Their existence
has become too dependent on political factions and their affiliated media.
It is hard to imagine that the suppressed and frustrated energies of
politically disillusioned and physically beaten students will dissipate
soon. Although it is hard to predict how and when they will be released,
it is wrong to assume that they can be suppressed for long. If there is
no natural process of democratization through which energies reserved in
the student movement can be released gradually and consumed appropriately,
these energies will explode as soon as they find an outlet for discharge.
Social unrest in other social arenas or a disturbance within any university
can ignite the fire and provide a natural outlet for them. What happened
in Iranian universities this summer has laid the foundation for further
disturbances that can only be prevented by genuine democratic process,
not by political manipulation and restrictive rules. Completed on September
1 . See "Iran's second revolution," The Economist, July 17,
2. Patrick Clawson quoted by Ben Barber, "Hard-line Clerics Cling
to Power," The Washington Times, July 15, 1999. Hammed Shahidian,
"'Aqaaze Paayaan: be ou keh goft: "mikosham, mikosham..."
[The Beginning of the End: To those who said: "I kill, I kill,..."].
To appear in Noghteh, No. 9. Part of this article was published in Arash,
No. 71, and July 1999.
3. For articles on this issue, see Abdolreza Navvaah, "Daaneshjooyaan
Saaketand," [Students are quiet] Jame'eh Saalem, No. 30, Esfand, 1375/2-1997;
Morad Saqafi, "Daaneshjoo, Dolat, va Enqelaab" [The student,
the state, and the revolution], Goft-o-Gu, No. 5, Fall, 1373/1994; and
"The Political Inclinations of the Youth and the Students," Asr-e
Ma, Vol. 2, No. 13, April 19, 1995.
4. R. Liyaqat, "Ela-le Bitavajohi-ye Daaneshgaahiyaan be Masaael-e
Siyaasi" [Causes of University Students' Lack of Interest in Political
Issues] Kalameh-ye Daaneshjoo, No. 8-9, Khordad 1373/6-1994.
5. Abdolreza Navvaah, "Daaneshjooyaan Saaketand," op. cit.
Also, see Mohammad Malaki, "Barkhi Vaqaaye-e Jonbesh-e Daaneshjoo-i"
[Some Events within the Student Movement], Iran Farda, No. 38, Aban and
6. See Ervand Abrahamian, "The Guerrilla Movement in Iran, 1963-1977."
MERIP Reports, No. 86, March-April 1980.
7. Morad Saqafi, "Demokraatizeh-shodane Jonbesh-e Daaneshjoo-i"
[The Democratization of the Student Movement], Iran Farda, No. 38, Aban
and Azar 1376/11-1997.
8. For a list of these protest rallies and their causes see Kaavoshgar;
Journal of Iranian University Professors in Exile, No. 1, Spring 1987.
9. See reports of several cases in Ettelaat, 3-5-1358/7-25-1979, 6-8-1358/10-28-1979,
10. For the history and activities of these organizations see "Taarikhcheh-e
Mobaarezaat-e Daaneshgaahiyaan-e Iran," [A History of Struggles by
the Iranian University Professors], Kaavoshgar, No. 1 (spring 1366/1987),
No. 2 (winter 1366/1987), and No. 3 (spring 1368/1989).
11. Changiz Pahlevan, "Nezaame Ostaadi dar daaneshgaah-haaye Iran"
[Professorship in the Iranian Universities], Goft-o-Gu, No. 5, fall, 1373/1994.
12. See Daaneshjooyaan Payro-e Khate Emaam, Asnaad-e Laaneh-ye Jaasoosi
[The Documents from the Nest of Spies (a reference to the US Embassy in
Tehran)], Tehran: Daftar-e Enteshaaraat-e Eslaami, n.d.
13. Morad Saqafi believes that up until the end of the war with Iraq,
it was the MSFIL who set the path for the formation of a revolutionary
government. After the war, the government could no longer follow the revolutionary
model proposed by the students. It had to separate its path from students
and isolate them from decision making. See Morad Saqafi, "Daaneshjoo,
Dolat, va Enqelaab," op. cit.
15. For a chronology of events, see three issues of Kaavoshgar, op.
16. Morad Saqafi, "Daneshjoo, Dolat, va Enqelaab," op. cit.
17. See "Mas-aleh-ye Tahsilaate Keshaavarzi-ye Zanaan"[The
Problem of Agricultural Education for Women], Daaneshgaah-e Enqelaab, No.
17, Aban 1361/11-1982. In 1372/1993, the Ministry of Culture and Higher
Education removed most of these limitations.
18. "Payaame Saazemaane Mojaahedin-e Enqelaab-e Eslaami-e Iran
be Ejlaas-e Saraasari-ye Etehaadieh-haaye Anjoman-haaye Eslaami-ye Daaneshjooyaan"
[The Message of the Organization of Mojaahedin of the Islamic Revolution
to the National Meeting of the Union of Islamic Student Associations],
Asr-e Maa, No. 126, Mordad 27, 1378/8-18-1999.
19. Abdolkarim Soroush, "Taqlid va Tahqiq dar Solook-e Daaneshjoo-i"
[Investigation and Imitation in Student Behavior], Kiyan, No. 1, Aban 1370/10-1991.
20. See Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, "Naaqofteh-haaye Enqelaab: Raahe-halli
baraaye Saakhtaare Siyaasi-ye 'Ayandeh-ye Iran [Untold Aspects of the Revolution:
A Solution for Future Political Structure of Iran], Hoviyate Khish, No.
3, Khordad 16, 1378/6-6-1999; "Emaam va Tahav-volaat-e Jonbeshe Daaneshjoo-i
dar Vaapasin Sal-haaye Daheh-ye Panjaah" [Imam and Developments in
the Student Movement in the Late 1350s] Asr-e Maa, Nos. 122 and 123, Tir
2 and 16, 1378/6-23-1999 and 7-7-1999; Abbas Abdi, "Khaateraate Abbas
Abdi yeki az Daaneshjooyaan-e Mosalmaane Payro-e Khate Emaam" [Memoirs
of Abbas Abdi, a Student Following Imam's Path], Kayhan Saal, 1365-66/1986-87.
21. Since 1376/1997 the DTV has been trying to get a license for a student
a ssociation called "The Center for Muslim Students" in the Islamic
Azaad universities. The university continues to disqualify it for political
reasons. See interview with Abdollah Jasebi in Asr-e Azadegaan, No. 9,
Mehr 25, 1378/10-17-1999.
22. See "Gofte-gu baa Daaneshjooyaan; Bach-che-haaye Enqelaab Chegooneh
Mi-andishand" [Interview with University Students; What Children of
the Revolution Think], Jame'eh Saalem, No. 23, Azar, 1374/1995.
23. Hojat Mortaji, Jenaah-haaye Siyaasi dar Iran-e Emrooz [Political
Factions in Contemporary Iran], Tehran: Enteshaaraate Shafi-i, 1377/1998.
24. See "Paasokh-haaye Sarih va Ekhtesaasi-ye Mohandes Tabarzadi
be Khaanandegaan" [Direct and Exclusive Answers to Readers' Questions
by Engineer Tabarzadi], Hoviyat-e Khish, No. 3, Kordad 16 1378/6-16-1999.
25. Hojat Mortaji, op. cit.
26. See Majid Taval-laie, "Jonbeshe Daaneshoui-ye Mostaqel"
[The Independent Student Movement], Iran Farda, No. 38, Aban and Azar,
27. See Juergen Habermas, Toward a Rational Society; Student Protest,
Science, and Politics, Translated by Jeremy J. Shapiro, Boston, MA: Beacon
Press, 1971; Seymour Martin Lipset, Rebellion in the University, NJ: Transaction
Publications, 1993. In Persian, see Mohammad Hariri Akbari, Rishehaaye
Fa'aliyat-haaye Siyaasi-ye Daaneshjooyaan [Roots of Student Political Activities],
Iran: n.p., 1351/1972.
28. A representative statement is "Bayaaniyeh Anjoman-e Eslaami-ye
Daaneshjoyaan-e Daaneshgaah-e Shahid Beheshti" [The Statement by the
Islamic Student Association of Shahid Beheshti University], Salaam, Ordibehesht
29. A representative statement is "Naameh-ye Anjoman-e Eslaami
Daaneshjooyaan-e Daaneshgaah-e Shiraz va Olum-e Pezeshki-ye Shiraz"
[A Joint Letter by the Islamic Student Associations of Shiraz University
and the Medical Sciences College of Shiraz], Salaam, Khordad 2, 1372/5-23-1993.
30. "The Militant Clergy Association and the Concurrent Groups,"
Salaam, Tuesday, May 13, 1997. English translation in NetIran.
31. Kaargozaaraan-e Saazandegi consists of a moderate group of technocrats
allied with Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. They are known as "modern right"
faction in the IRI.
32. "Paasokh-haaye Sarih va Ekhtesaasi-ye Mohandes Tabarzadi be
Khaanandegaan," op. cit.
33. The above numbers were reported by Mohammad Soleimani, the deputy
for Students Affairs at the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education. See
Iran News, 5-22-1995. For an excellent analysis of the growth in the number
of students in Iranian universities, see Farzad Taheripour and Masoud Anjam-Sho
'a, "Gostaresh-e 'Amoozesh-e 'Ali va Touse'eh-ye Jamiyat-e Daaneshjoo-i"
[The Expansion of Higher Education and the Growth of Student Population],
Barnaameh va Touse'eh, Vol. 2, No. 5, spring, 1372/1993.
34. According to Habibollah Ajayebi, Deputy to Minister of Labor and
Social Affairs, "based on the 1375/1996 statistics, there were 1,450,000
unemployed in Iran. It is estimated that this number will double by the
end of 1378 [3-2000]." Washington Iranians, September 10, 1999.
35. See "Daaneshjoo va Daaneshgaah; Mohaafezeh-kaari va bi-omidi"
[The Student and University; Conservatism and Hoplessness], Gozaresh, No.
62, Farvardin, 1375/3-1996; "Faqat Es-man Daaneshjoo Hastim!"
[We Are Students Only in Name!], Gozaresh, No. 77, Tir, 1376/7-1997; Interview
with students, "Khordsaalaan-e Enqelaab Chegooneh Mi-andishan,"
op. cit.; and "Javaanaan: Bozorgtar-haa Maa raa Dark Nemikonand!"
[The Youth: Our Adults Do Not Understand Us], Hamshahri, Ordibehesht 21,
36. See Mehrdad Mashayekhi, "Jonbesh-e Daaneshjoo-i: yek Negaah-e
Jaame' eshenaakhti" [The Student Movement: A Sociological View], Keyhan
(London), August 12, 1999.
37. The Iran Times, September 24, 1999.
38. Report by Neshat is reprinted in Washington Iranians, Vol. 3, No.
71, Friday, August 27, 1999.
39. Salaam, Aban 9, 1377/10-31-1998.
40. Salaam, Aban 13, 1377/11-4-1998.
41. Salaam, Aban 14, 1377/11-5-1998.
42. Resaalat, Aban 20, 1377/11-11-1998.
43. Here by "the left opposition" I mean Marxists, Socialists,
and Social Democrats. They should not be confused with "the religious
left" within the ruling clerics.
44. See "Sarkoobe Shoresh-haa dar chand shahre bozorg-e Iran"
[The Suppression of Uprisings in Several Big Cities], Arash, Khordad, 1371/6-1992.
45. For example, 10 days prior to the July attack on the dormitory in
Tehran University, 15 students in the College of Agriculture in Karaj fell
sick due to infected waters in the university dormitory. See Hamshahri,
Tir 7, 1378/6-28-1999.
46. Payaam Emrooz, No. 23, Ordibehesht, 1377/4-1998.
47. "Jonbeshe Daaneshjoo-i, ham 'Azaad, ham Dolati" [The Student
Movement, Both Independent and Official], Payaam Emrooz, No. 31, Tir, 1378/7-22-1999.
48. For instance, the Islamic Student Association in Sharif Industrial
University was called to the revolutionary court for writing a letter to
the Leader of the IR arguing against the authority of the Guardian Council
to disqualify candidates for elections [known as Approbatory Supervision].
See Hamshahri, Tir 7, 1378/6-28-1999.
49. See the article by Alireza Alavitabar in Sob-he Emrooz, Tir 31,
50. See a letter by Ezatollah Sahabi, Habibollah Payman, Ali Akbar Moinfar,
and Ebrahim Yazdi, sent to the President Khatami on Mordad 6, 1378/7-28-1999,
published in Iran Farda, No. 56, Mordad, 1378/7-1999, page 24.
51. See "Didgaah-haaye Azaaye Saazemaane Mojaahedin-e Enqelaab-e
Eslaami darbaareh-ye Masaael-e Jaari-ye Keshvar" [Views of the Members
of the Organization of Mojaahedin-e of the Islamic Revolution about Current
Affairs in the Country], Asr-e Maa, No. 125, Mordad 13, 1378/8-4-1999.
52. These hints are listed and referred to in an article by Hossein
Bastani, "Senaar-you-ye Tashan-nojaate Akhir [The Scenario for the
Recent Unrest], Sob-he Emrooz, Tir 22, 1378/7-13-1999. 53. Elahe Sharifpour-Hicks,
a lawyer and researcher for Human Rights Watch talks about what she had
learned of these plans in her article, "Iran's Winter of Discontent,"
The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 1999.
54. See a report of these events in Hamshahri, Tir 19, 1378/7-10-1999.
55. The number of individuals in plain clothes, who participated in
the raid, is not clear. Reported numbers are between 50 to 400. The number
quoted here was reported by Elahe Sharifpour-Hicks in "Iran's Winter
of Discontent," op. cit.
57. See the section under "the third phase" in the Report
by the Investigative Committee of the Supreme National Security Council
distributed by IRNA and published in most newspapers in Iran, including
Hamshahri, Mordad 24, 1378/8-15-1999.
58. "Behind the News," Iran Farda, No. 56, Mordad 1378/8-1999,
59. See reports of the attacks in Neshat, Khordad, Sob-he Emrooz, and
Hamshahri on Tir 19-22, 1378 [7-10/7-13-1999].
60. Iran Daily, Tir 20, 1378/7-11-1999.
61. Hamshahri, Tir 19, 1378/7-10-1999.
62. Mohammad Qoochaani, "Barresi-ye Enteqaadi-ye Harekate 18 Tir-e
Daaneshjooyaan dar Tehran" [A Critical Look at the 18th Tir Movement
by the Students], Neshat, Mordad 7, 1378/7-29-1999.
63. For the role of Lotfian in the crackdowns, see the report in Neshat,
Shahrivar 3, 1378/8-3-99.
64. I owe the analysis presented in this paragraph to a presentation
by Masoud Razavi, of Hamshahri, in Paris, September 1999.
65. Farshid Motahari, "Student Unrest in Teheran Turns into Victory
for Reformist President," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, July 11, 1999.
66. Rezaie's remarks were published in Sob-he Emrooz, Khordad 20, 1378/6-10-1999.
67. For positive reports on this demonstration see Keyhan, Resaalat,
Jomhori Eslaami, and Abrar. Reports of beatings and arrests of students
and Khatami supporters can be found in Neshat, Sob-he Emrooz, Khordad,
Hamshahri, and Iran, Tir 24, 1378/7-14-1999.
68. "Tahav-volaate Jaariye Keshvar: dar Jostejooye Esteraateji
va Taaktic," [Current Developments in the Country: In Search of a
Strategy and Tactic] Ya Lessarsat al-Hossein, Mordad, 1378/8-1999.
69. See Jomhuri Islami, Mordad 14, 1378/8-5-1999.
70. Hamshahri, Mordad 24, 1378/8-15-1999.
71. See Reza Alijani, "Gaame Ba'di-ye Paygiri-haa baa Kist?"
[Who is Going to Follow the Matter Now?], Iran Farda, No. 56, Mordad 1378/8-1999].
See also "Negaahi Vizheh be Gozaaresh-e Komiteh-ye Tahqiq-e Shoraaye
'Ali-ye Amniyat darbaareh-ye Faaje'eh-ye Kouye Daaneshgaah" [A Special
Look at the Report by the Investigative Committee of the SNSC about the
Campus Tragedy], Asr-e Maa, No. 127, Shahrivar 10, 1378/9-1-1999.
72. AFP News, July 20, 1999.
73. Khordad, Mordad 3, 1378/7-25-1999.
74. See his interview in Khordad, Mordad 6, 1378/7-28-1999. See also
Mohammad Reza Sardari, "Senaaryou-i keh Natijehye Makoos daad,"
[A Scenario that Produced the Unwanted Result], Neshat, Mordad 2, 1378/7-24-1999.
75. See interview with Ayatollah Khazali in Sob-he Emrooz, Tir 31, 1378/7-22-1999.
76. See his comments in Sob-he Emrooz, Tir 31, 1378/7-22-1999. See also
comments by Habibollah Asgaroladi, the General Secretary of the JME, in
Neshat, Mordad 25, 1378/8-16-1999.
77. For Dehnamaki's comments see his interviews in Sob-he Emrooz (Tir
20, 1378/7-11-1999), Neshat (Mordad 21, 1378/8-12-1999), and "Havaades-e
Kouye Daaneshgah va Naqshe Ansaar; dar Goftegou baa Masoud Dehnamaki"
[The Events in University Dormitories and the Role of the Ansaar; An Interview
with Masoud Dehnamaki], Tavaana, No. 46, Mordad 4, 1378/7-26-1999.
78. Sermon by Ayatollah Janati on Mordad 29/ 8-20-1378, The Iran Times,
August 27, 1999.
79. See Rahbarpour's interview in Jomhori Eslami, Shahrivar 2, 1378
80. Sob-he Emrooz, Mehr 29, 1378/10-21-1999.
81. "Zafe Bozorge Jonbesh dar Bisaazmaani Ast" [The Biggest
Weakness of the Movement is its Lack of Organization], Raah-e Toudeh, excerpts
quoted in the Iran Times, October 1, 1999.
82. "Didgaah-haaye Azaaye Saazemaane Mojaahedin-e Enqelaab-e Eslaami
darbaareh-ye Masaa'el-e Jaari-ye Keshvar," op. cit.
83. See various statements made by intellectuals like Parviz Piran,
Mosa Ghaninejad, Alireza Alavitabar, and Fariborz Raisdana (Sob-he Emrooz,
Tir 22, 1378/7-13-1999), Masoud Behnood, and Ezatollah Sahabi (Neshat,
Tir 21, 1378/7-12-1999). A statement by 111 national-religious activists
critical of the conservative forces urged students to "avoid emotional
behaviors and extremist slogans." (See Khordad, Tir 22, 1378/7-13-1999).
84. News, Reuters, July 14, 1999.
85. A list of these slogans is published in Washington Iranians, Vol.
3, No. 68, Friday, July 16, 1999. [Editor's Note: See also Bina's article
in this issue.]
86. Ghay-r Khodi is an expression often used by the conservative faction
describing those who do not share their views and are against a theocracy
87. See comments made by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and a host of Friday
prayers around the country on Friday Tir 25, 1378/7-16-1999. A sample of
them can be found in Khordad, Murdered 3, 1378/7-25-1999. See also comments
by four members of the Majles in this regard in Iran, Mordad 14, 1378/8-5-1999.
88. For an analysis of conservative approach to the "third current,"
see Hassan Yousefi Ashkevari, "'Jariyaan-e Sev-voum' hamaan 'Jariyaan-e
Dov-voum ' Ast" [The Third Current is the Same as the Second Current],
Asr-e Azaadegaan, No. 9, Mehr 25, 1378/10-17-1999.
89. See the article by Majid Haji Babaie, "Omq-e Goftemaan, Niyaaze
Jonbesh-e Daaneshjoo-i" [The Need for a Profound Discourse in the
Student Movement], Khordad, Mehr 12, 1378/10-4-1999.
90. See interview with Hojatoleslam Qumi, chief of the Organization
Representing His Excellency the Leader in Universities, Sob-he Emrooz,
Tir 12, 1378/7-3-1999; Interview with Abdollah Nouri, when he was still
an Interior Minister, Salaam and Hamshahri, March 5, 1998; Leader's comments
to personal representatives at the colleges and universities, Iran News,
12-5-1996; Statement by Rafsanjani's Minister of Culture and Higher Education
during his second term as president, Mohammad Reza Hashemi Golpaygani,
Iran News, 13-8-1994.
91. See his remarks in Gozaresh, No. 77, Tir 1376/7-1997, page 6.