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End of the beginning
Two years after the student revolt

By Shahriar Zangeneh
July 6, 2001
The Iranian

Two years ago on July 9, student dormitories at Tehran University were attacked in the middle of the night by a combined force of civilian clothed Basijis and security agents. Ansar Hezbollah members under the command of Massoud Dehnamaki, a shell-shocked war veteran who sports a bunker in his office, were active too.

The uniformed security forces under the command of General Farhad Nazari, got into the fray later on, to exact their pound of flesh. Published pictures spoke of total destruction of a number of dormitories and the meager belonging of students. The official tally has been one dead, one gouged out eye, few broken bones and one stolen electric shaver.

The subsequent official inquiries and the resulting "judicial hearings", during which scheduled witnesses were beaten up right in front of the court house prior to testifying, have produced the following:

1- Total exoneration of Gen. Nazari, for any and all that "might" have taken place under his command. Commander Nazari, was publicly decorated for a job well done by his superior. He has since filed many lawsuits claiming defamation of character by the victims.

2- Conviction of one conscripted nineteen-year-old security soldier for pilfering the infamous electric shaver.

3- No sentence of any kind for the "civilian clothed" shock troops, since the government has not been able to "identify" them, even though they were carrying government issued walky-talkies and side arms. Damages to personal property caused by this group is to be paid out of the public coffers.

4- The hearings have also "disproved" the claim by the multitude of eyewitnesses that at least three students were thrown out of the third floor balconies as "offerings to Lady Fatima".

5- A sum of 7.1 million tomans ($8,800.00, per prevailing exchange rate) has been deposited in an escrow for the murdered student's family. The family has refused, insisting upon public prosecution of the five suspects, who were identified by the eyewitnesses.

6- A drama student, Ahmad Batebi, was given the death penalty, which was benevolently commuted by Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to somewhere between five to fifteen years of imprisonment for holding up his schoolmate's bloodied under-shirt and for being memorialized on the cover of Economist magazine.

7- Death penalty, later commuted to life imprisonment for the two Mohammadi brothers, for "instigating the disturbance".

8- Enumerable other imprisonment of varying length for other students. In fact there are now prison wings throughout the country euphemistically called "University Wing".

9- Expulsions from the learning institutions have been the most lenient of sentences. Needless to say after a customary session of "ta'zeer", better known as lashing to a pulp.

In Tabriz, the students got the same plus a personal touch. According to eyewitnesses, after rounding up the students and treating them to an on the spot "hospitality treatment" in local mosques, the girls clothes were torn off their back prior to being set free, naked as a bird. The explanation being that since they were opposing the current system, they must be wanting a carefree one, public nudity being the part and parcel of such governance.

Two years ago was the beginning of the end for unaccountable rule in Iran. The very "Children of the Revolution" publicly crossed many "red lines" and said no. No to oppression, no to corruption, no to nepotism, no to sanctioned villainy, no to the ban on enjoyment of life, no to segregation, no to be ruled by incompetents, no to egomaniac leaders, no to religious apartheid and no to the status quo. In short, enough is enough.

The importance of these noes are in that they came and are coming from people that any revolutionary system banks on to carry on and solidify its policies. It should also be noted that, to ensure their absolute obedience, these students have had to go through many multi-tiered vetting processes before admittance into the universities.

Not long ago, the most reactionary rulers would show up at the universities, to lecture the cowed students on the merits of their righteous ideology. The Khamenei used to show up "unannounced" to a "tumultuous welcome" by the students chanting rehearsed nonsensical slogans in his praise. He would have a monologue chat with his "children". He would then go about his business of ruling till the next time around that he felt an urge to chat again.

Ever since that faithful night, those leaders don't have their regular student audiance any more. The last time His Velayatness went to Tehran University, the audience had a peculiar look to it. There is a poignant picture of this post-uprising visit. It is a wide angle head shot taken from an elevation. The majority of "students" have turned grey, balding and have put on a quite a few pounds, they look mostly of gholchomaagh persuasion. Not a single young robust figure to be seen. All bused-in-rent-a-student, who are way way passed their scholastic years.

Two years ago the rulers awoke to their worst nightmare. Their trained chanting machines had come to their own. No amount of empty promises, no dire warning of severe retribution here or hereafter, no subservient student organization, nothing could hold this coiled-spring from uncoiling to its full potential.

Two years on we are at the end of the beginning. The nation's cream of the crop has demonstrated its determination to have a brighter, more deserving future for Iran through peaceful means. Let's hope pushing would suffice and no need for mass shoving becomes necessary.

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment to the writer Shahriar Zangeneh


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