- Tale of Two Regimes
1. About July 9, 1999 (18-Tir 1378)
We are a month away from the anniversary of 18-Tir
students uprising of Iran, the bloody day that Iranian students
all know very well. If a day should be picked as the beginning
of formation of new secular pro-democracy organizations of Iran,
I think 18-tir 1378 (July 9, 1999) would be appropriate.
happened two years after the election of President Khatami to
office, when the Iranian people turned the table on the Islamic
Republic, and even within the confines of IRI (Islamic Republic
of Iran) 's selections, voted for the candidate who was not the
regime's #1 choice, in the IRI presidential election of 1997.
That was the 2-khordad, when the popular hope was to start of
a process that people's movement would find its *real* leaders,
and not the ones selected by the establishment, such as Khatami,
within the confines of IRI. Even this prospect made the regime
scared, and the killings of Foruhars and writers in Nov 1998,
was regime's attempt to stop such a process.
backfired and the regime was forced to admit the chained murders
as the work of its own intelligence service agents, and had a
sham trial of the agents, although behind closed doors, after
the mysterious suicide of their lead hit-man, Saeed Emami, inside
the jail. Saeed Emami had worked for the regime for years, making
Hoviyat program on IRI Television, a program similar to TV shows
of Shah's Savak, focused on discrediting Iran's opposition.
Uprising of July 9th, 1999 was the first popular movement, less
than a year after the chained murders, which showed beyond doubt
that killings of Foruhars and writers, not only did not stop the
ones who wanted real change in Iran, but it had made them more
determined, when seeing the reformist regime not working hard
to protect its own friends, let alone guaranteeing the protection
of various groups of the pro-democracy movement, as one would
expect from a real reformist
regime. This is how a parallel secular movement started alongside
2nd Khordad movement, on July 9th, 1999, and gained momentum as
the years passed.
students were born at the time of 1979 Revolution, and contrary
to 1981 and 1988 massacres of the regime, which were against the
remainders of anti-Shah movement, here the regime was facing a
new fresh movement of those born and raised under the Islamic
Republic. The students were vocal about their demands for change
in Iran, and the regime was also very clear in its attack on them.
The vigilantes attacked, killed, and wounded the students, and
many of the student leaders were arrested, yet Khatami threatened
the students to discontinue or get the stick.
the first days after July 9, 2004, was very slow to bring the
murderers of Foruhars and attackers of students to justice, but
he was very swift, on that day, to threaten suppression of the
Students Pro-Democracy Uprising. This way basically secular Iranian
students lost their faith in Khatami from that day, and took a
more farsighted vision about the future steps of their struggle,
and did not allow the regime to kill off the pro-democracy movement,
like the Chinese Tien An Men Square.
Some of the
student leaders are still in Islamic Republic's dungeons, some
others were forced to make TV confessions, and later told the
people of the truth. Even the TV confessions backfired on the
regime, making its image more like that of Savak confessions of
regime's predecessor, i.e. the confessions under torture during
Shah's regime, which Iranian people still remember. The anniversaries
of 18-Tir in summer, were continued and became the school of democracy
in Iran, always followed by 16-Azar (Dec 7) anniversaries in the
Fall, which I will explain later.
after July 9th, in the elections of 2001, Iranian people voted
for Khatami again, although this time, he was the regime's #1
choice. People voted for him to choose the lesser evil among the
candidates, and preferred to do this than boycott, when they did
not see any serious alternative yet, and this helped the newly
formed pro-democracy groups to solidify.
In July 2001,
Khatami's government that had just come to its second term, with
a strong vote, in its first test after its new term, backed off
from giving permission for the anniversary demonstrations of the
18th of Tir, nonetheless, the students did not give up on their
demonstration against the Islamist
dictatorship, and for a democratic and future_oriented government
through a referendum.
that was obvious for sure, was that in 2001, only two years after
the 18-Tir Students Uprising, the Iranian people have found so
many new leaders, who were neither from the past nor selections
of IRI. Just looking at the names of the ones in IRI prisons,
or newly released prisoners shows how unsuccessful the regime
was, when hoping that by killings the Foruhars and writers, and
the killing of dissidents abroad, to deprive the Iranian people
of leadership to oppose this regime.
new leaders who had come out of the July 9th, 1999 students movement,
leaders who were neither with MojAhedin nor with Monarchy. They
were an independent new force that Iranian progressive aspirations
had created, and they were getting stronger and stronger, and
the attacks of regime's vigilantes, would only make this force
more aware, as to how to form a democratic Futurist
In the subsequent
year, the students movement reached a new height, a few months
after the July 9th anniversary of 2002, in Oct and Dec
2002, on the anniversary of 16-Azar (Dec 7, 1953). I will
explain about the history of Dec 7, 1953 later in here. The 2002
demonstrations broke out on the occasion of a death edict for
a university professor on the charges of blasphemy, and the students
movement continued into a new height into the May
2003. Khatami's government hid the murder of Iranian-Canadian
Kazemi, until after July 9th to prevent students' rage. Also
the regime took advantage of people's grieving for the two Iranian
Siamese twins, who had died under an operation to get separated,
in the days before July 9th, to calm down the July 9th anniversary
In a month,
it is the 2004 anniversary of18-Tir ( July 9th) and already arrests
of Iranian pro-democracy activists has started. Nonetheless, the
students have announced again, that these arrests and regime attacks
will not stop them from celebrating the anniversary of July 9th,
and in the words of and RSF reporter from Tehran, participation
in the July 9th events, it has turned into a symbol of honor
for Iranian students. This is like the way participating in 16-Azar
(Dec 7) anniversary was for the students of my generation.
Dec 7, 1953 (16-Azar 1332)
16-Azar (Dec 7) is from the days right after the CIA coup of 1953.
Despite the attempts by monarchists in the recent years to remove
anniversary celebrations of Dec 7th from the calendar of Iran's
pro-democracy movement, Iranian students celebrate both days,
because Dec 7 (16-Azar) reminds us that we do not want to trade
one retrogressive regime with another.
have been struggling for democracy for over half a century, commemorating
two days shows this challenge under two dictatorial regimes. It
should not be surprising why Iranian students make a point to
keep both days because they want to emphasize that they will not
be return to the old regime as the monarchists
try to take advantage of IRI atrocities to come back to power
in Iran. Below is my memories of 16-Azar (Dec 7) at the time of
of Dec 7, 1953, is from another generation of Iranian students
who fought for democracy under the Shah's regime. The anniversary
of 16-Azar of 1332, rooz-e dAneshjoo, the International Students
Day. Many people who have been members of the Confederation of
Iranian Students abroad in 60s and 70s, or have been students
in Iran in those years, would remember the commemorations in Iran
and abroad, on this special day, and still after the 1979 Revolution,
the Iranian students in Iran celebrate the anniversary of this
When I was
a student in late 60s and early 70s, I remember celebrations of
this day, and it was a day that students remembered their freedom-loving
peers, who were the first to oppose Shah's dictatorship of post-CIA
coup of 1953, and who had given their blood to show their dislike
of Shah's repression, just a few months after that dark CIA coup
Ahmad Ghandchi, who was sympathetic to Jebhe Melli, and two others,
Shariat-Razavi and Bozorg-Nia, who were claimed by hezbe tudeh
as sympathetic to Hezb-e Tudeh, were killed by the gun of Shah's
police, on this 7th day of December in 1953, at the University
of Tehran, when they had gone on strike, protesting Nixon's
visit of Iran, following the CIA coup of 1953.
As far as
calling the three students as jebhe or tudeii, this is how anybody
was categorized in 1953, as either jebhe or tudeii, but they were
just freedom-loving students of Technology Faculty (Daneshkadeh
Fani) of University of Tehran, who were protesting the coup that
had overthrown legal popular reformist government of Dr. Mossadegh.
stain of the three students on the columns of the main building
of Daneshkadeh Fani was still there a few years ago. I do not
know if it is still there now. For years during the Shah's regime,
following the bloody shooting of the Shah's regime on 16-Azar,
the students of Daneshkadeh Fani, were the bastions of Iranian
students movement for democracy.
the main newspaper of the Confederation of Iranian students in
60s and 70s was called 16-Azar, and the day 16-Azar was always
celebrated by Iranian students, who studied in universities abroad.
I think all the archives of Confederation's 16-Azar paper may
be found at the US Library of Congress in the Iran section.
Shariat-e Razavi, and Bozorg-nia are buried in emAm-zAdeh AbdollAh
near Tehran. I was two years old when they were killed, so I just
know about them from family conversations. When I was a child,
I used to go to their graveside with my father, as it is also
near my grandfather's grave.
(my cousin's mother), who passed away just about fifteen years
ago, always would cry every time remembering her son Ahmad. Ahmad
was one of the brightest in the family. Ahmad Ghandchi got his
diploma when he was 16 and was very knowledgeable. His story of
being killed, for fighting against the dictatorship, is unfortunately
the story of the life and death of many of the brightest children
of Iran over the years.
protest in 16th of Azar, was not only to protest the post-Coup
repression and US involvement in Iran, but Shariat-Razavi, Ghandchi,
and Bozorg-nia and their peers, thought that they can break that
atmosphere of fear and intimidation (rob va vahshat), and perhaps
they had a chance. But unfortunately they were defeated and the
post-coup terror continued for decades.
The US policy was the main reason for the success of coup, and
for failure of democracy in Iran in those years. I have condemned
IRI hostage-taking, from day one, which happened in the aftermath
of 1979 Revolution, nonetheless, I have also condemned U.S. role
in Iran, during the Shah's regime, from CIA coup of 1953, to training
of the Savak, to supporting the repressive Shah's government in
the post-coup years.
The July 9th
Uprising of Iranian students in 1999, reminded me of the 16-Azar
of 1953. Again the Iranian students took the flag of asking for
freedom and democracy in Iran and a few were killed and a number
of them are still in jail.
and years of struggle for democracy in Iran, and even after going
through a revolution, again the democratic
law and human rights were defeated in Iran and again the Iranian
students are in the forefront of pro-democracy movement, to protest
the repression and to ask for democracy, and again they are paying
with their blood for this great ideal of humanity.
What is notable today is that there is a strong movement of pre-university
youth in Iran, that ever since the years of 1941-1953 such a pre-university
youth movement was never this strong. In post-1953, only the otoboosrAni
movement of 1969 ( a movement protesting the price of bus tickets
in 1969), was a notable movement with pre-University youth. Other
than that, during the 1953-1979 period, there was hardly any pre-university
youth movement in Iran. In recent years, the youth movement has
shown its powerful presence on occasions such as the periodic
matched of soccer games in Iran.
I think the
presence of a strong youth movement in the years after the fall
of Reza Shah and following World War II, was because on one side
there was a half-democracy in Iran, in those years, and on the
other side, the atmosphere in the world, was very international
and the youth in different countries compared themselves with
their counterparts in other countries, and were demanding what
their peers had.
Television have created a similar situation for the youth today,
where Iranian youth compare themselves to their peers elsewhere
in the world, and the movement of the youth in Iran is an added
element to the movement of Iranian university students and it
is hard to say how these two movements will complement each other
in their struggle for democracy and progress.
Even the teachers
movement is in close relation with the students, raising the flag
of pro-democracy movement. Nonetheless, these are tough times,
especially for the ones who are facing the vigilantes on the streets
of Iran and are facing torture in the Evin prison. I believe any
help for the progressive students movement in Iran has never been
as timely as now.
of the current movement in Iran is the separation of state and
religion and the demand for full secularism,
which can only happen by ending the Islamic Republic of Iran for
good, and the regime tries its best to suppress the secular forces.
One of the
leaders of Iranian pro-democracy movement, during the prolonged
students demonstrations of 2002, noted an important thought. He
said that students movement have their own limitations, although
students movement has always been a spectacular part of pro-democracy
movement of Iran. To lead the movement of Iran for regime change,
a political party is needed, and although students movement and
its leadership, are important parts of such an endeavor, but they
are not equal. I have written my thoughts on the Futurist
Party in a different paper, and have separately discussed
it in relation to political
coalitions as well.
the pro-democracy movement of Iranian students
Hoping for a Futurist, Federal, Democratic, and Secular Republic
Written: June 1, 2004
Republished: June 13, 2007