PARIS, 17 July (IPS) “18 Tir (Iranian date corresponding to 8 July) marked the start of the separation of the movement of Iranian students with the Islamic republic and their lack of confidence in this regime”, according to Mr. Sa’id Razavi-Faqih, an influential leader of Iranian students.
Police forces, plainclothes men belonging to the conservatives-controlled pressure groups and special units of the Intelligence Ministry attacked students who were protesting peacefully in their dormitories the closure of a popular newspaper, setting rooms on fire, beating up students, throwing some of them out from windows killing one, namely Mr. Ezzat Ebrahim Nezhad and wounding score of others.
For Iranian students, 18 Tir is the beginning of a turning point and the start of a process that marks the total lost of confidence to this political system
The attack triggered a wave of daily demonstrations by the students, demanding that “all those who ordered the attack and executed the orders” be identified and tried.
But as the protest movement became more radical and openly anti-regime, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, the leader of the Islamic Republic, fearing for the survival of the regime, ordered revolutionary guards to crush the movement “at any cost”.
To the astonishment of the Iranians, President Mohammad Khatami approved the decision, regardless of the fact that he had been elected to the presidency thanks mainly to the massive votes of the students in particular and the young generation in general.
“For Iranian students, 18 Tir is the beginning of a turning point and the start of a process that marks the total lost of confidence to this political system”, Mr. Razavi-Faqih told Mr. Mohammad Reza Shahid, the correspondent in Paris for the Persian service of Voice of America.
“In fact, the brutal and savage attack on the dormitories, the crackdown on the demonstrations and the authorities failing to seriously identifying the attackers resulted in students and the Office for Consolidating Unity (OCU) to reach the conclusion that the attack was aimed at suppressing the students movement and a rampant coup against the wishes of the population for reforms. It also proved that no one can expect justice from this regime and this system, as seen from the case of 18 Tir, leaving no alternative but calling on international organizations, the United Nations and other human rights bodies to put pressure on the Islamic Republic to respect the rights of its citizens”, he added.
He was referring to the letter the OCU, which is the Iranian students largest organization, had sent to Mr. Kofi Annan, United Nations General Secretary, demanding to intervene with Tehran on their behalf and pressing the authorities to identify the authors of the 8 July “massacre”.
Five years after the event, the authorities have brought no one to trialwhile hundreds of students are still in prisons.
Five years after the event, the authorities have brought no one to trial and one police officer accused of having carried out the attack was freed while hundreds of students are still in prisons.
The initiative of writing the letter to Mr. Annan, which was also signed by Mr. Razavi-Faqih, was taken after the authorities had banned students from commemorating the 9 July 1999 crackdown.
But some students groups close to the ruling conservatives had denounced the move, heralding a new schism among students associations, according to Iranian analysts.
While recognizing that any idea and political project needs leadership for it to be materialized, the former leader of the OCU who is now completing his studies in France said however that leadership was different from “personification” of a movement. “This is exactly what caused the failure of the reformist movement’, he pointed out, with a dart thrown at the direction of the powerless Khatami.
“This is exactly what the reformists lacked”, he observed, adding that what the students are calling for is what all societies are after: a minimum of respect of human rights, freedom of expression and equality for all citizens without any discrimination of sex, religion or ideology. ENDS STUDENTS MOVEMENT 17704