In December of 1953 following the coup d’état that overthrew Prime Minister Mohammad Mossedeqh, students of Tehran University staged a protest in response to a visit by then U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon. During the demonstration police shot and killed three students. Today when we read about the deaths of Ahmad Ghandchi, Azar Shariatrazavi, and Mostafa Bozorgnia more than 50 years ago, it isn’t hard to see the similarities they had with students today. They were passionately seeking freedom, and they were disturbed by the turn of events involving Great Britain and the U.S. CIA and their interference in Iran.
The Student Movement in Iran today may very well be fighting battles that evolved from the same struggles students in 1953 faced.
Last week once again we saw the face of another young Iranian whose life was cut short by the violent regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ehsan Fattahian like Bahman Jenabi, Ashkan Sohrabi, Neda Agha Soltan, Mehdi Karami,Omidreza Mir Sayafi, Amir Heshmat Saran, Zahra Kazemi, Ebrahim Lotfollahi, Akbar Mohammadi, Ezzat Ebrahim-Nejad, and countless others, is the latest to become a symbol of all that is wrong with human rights in Iran.
The regime knows the power of its youth, and they continue to strike out at the sons and daughters of Iran who are asking for basic human rights. What we know about Iran is that in the last 30 years the youth have increasingly become the strongest voice in a movement to change a cruel and unforgiving government. With more than two-thirds of its population under the age of 30, is there any wonder that fair, democratic elections are out of the question for the Islamic Republic?
Since 1953, 16 Azar (December 7) has been celebrated annually as Students Day in Iran. Though the political climate has seen varying kinds of students participating in the events, the significance of student activism in Iran remains an important way of swaying the politics.
This year, more than any other since 1953, how students show their solidarity for a secular, democratic government in Iran will be key to the movement that came to the forefront following the fixed election in June of this year.
Those of us who are outside the country are watching and waiting, and in truth there are times when it is excrutiating to be out here, and not there among them, and part of the fight. What we can do, what we must continue to do, is to let them know that they have not been forgotten by us. Nothing that happens in the media can take our attention away from the struggle for freedom going on in Iran.
For this we stand, again, and we send a message to our brothers and sisters in Iran that we are with you, and we will not forget.
16 Azar in Berkeley Sunday, 6 December 2009 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., Pacific Time UC Berkeley – Bancroft & Telegraph
For more information or to let us know of other locations demonstrating on 16 Azar, call Arash at 510.705.3005, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or find International Alliance of Iranian Students on Facebook by searching for IAIS.