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Posted Thursday, July 8, 2004

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TEHRAN, 8 July. (IPS) As the Iranian government firmly stopped the students commemorating the anniversary of 8 July 1999 revolt against the Islamic Republic, stating that the event has "no meaning" to be commemorated, students warned they would take their complaints against the regime to the United Nations.


In a statement, the Office for Consolidating Unity (OCU) said “now that the voices of justice and freedom are silenced and the eye of justice is blind, we have no other choice but to take our complaint to international instances, including the United Nations”.

The date marks the fifth anniversary of the nightly attack of the Police, backed by plainclothes men from the Intelligence Ministry and security forces on the dormitories where some 300 students were demonstrating peacefully against the shutting down of a “Salam”, a popular newspaper.


Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, the leader of the Islamic Republic, fearing for the survival of his regime, ordered all forces of repression to crush the demonstrations “at any cost”.


The surprise raid on the student’s dormitories in Tehran and Tabriz, the capital city of the northwestern Province of Eastern Azarbaijan was terrible. Some sleepy students were thrown out of the windows, others savagely beaten. Rooms were ransacked and books and belongings burned down.

As a result, students took to the streets the days after, demanding the culprits be brought to justice. Angered by the arrogance of the regime, the demonstrations continued and as days passed, became more political.

On the sixth consecutive days of unrest, as people had started to move backing the demonstrators, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, the leader of the Islamic Republic, fearing for the survival of his regime, ordered the police and all others forces of repression to crush the demonstrations “at any cost”.

On 8 of July, as the revolt had taken openly an anti-regime nature and slogans appeared against Ayatollah Khameneh'i and some other leading ayatollahs, the revolutionary guards, supported by thousands of basij forces and special units of the Intelligence Ministry attacked the students, leaving hundreds of demonstrators wounded, several dead and thousands arrested, some still in prisons.

While the students were claiming that several of theirs had been killed, the authorities agreed to only one dead, in Mr. Ezzat Ebrahim Nezjad.

But what surprised both the students and the Iranians was the fact that Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami, elected president two years earlier mostly thanks to the vote of the students and young generation, had backed Mr. Khameneh'i in sending the forces against the students.

What surprised the Iranians was the fact that Mohammad Khatami, elected president mostly thanks to the vote of the students had also confirmed the crackdowns.


The crackdown revolted the Iranians and created outrage outside. Against repeated demands by the students for identifying those responsible for the savage attack, the authorities took no decision except sending hundreds of students to prison and a mock trial for one of the police commanders, who was later freed.

“The event, a savage operation against the student’s movement, marked for ever the rupture between the students and the regime. From the outset, the students knew well that none of the real culprits would ever be tried. The wound on the students would not disappear, nor those responsible for the brutal attack would ever sleep in peace”, warned Mr. Abdollah Mo’meni, the Secretary of the Office for Consolidating Unity, the Iranian student’s largest organisation.

Explaining the reasons the students decided to keep quiet, Mr. Sa’id Razavi Faqih, a member of the OCU said considering the “enormous” pressures put on the students by the authorities, including verbal and telephone threats and warrants sent against students activists, “there was no place we could hold demonstrations and express our views, even peaceful, as we intended”.

“Dossiers against many students were reactivated, newspapers were told not to publish anything about the 18 of Tir (Iranian month), others were contacted by phone, warned to stay at home”, he told the BBC’s Persian service.

Days before the 8 July, some senior officials, including General Mohammad Tala’i, Commander of Tehran Police had called on the students to “forget the past, whoever bitter”.

To prevent any outburst, special anti riot of the Police and plainclothes men had been deployed in Tehran and other Iranian cities, claiming it was for "helping flow of the trafic jam".

As the day passed in Tehran and elsewhere in Iran with no major incident, outside, Iranians of all ideology organised well-attended demonstrations in several major cities and capitals, denouncing the ruling “Mollahrchy” for its “brutal crackdowns” on Iranian students, intellectuals, journalists and dissidents.

“8 July of 1999 was the year President Mohammad Khatami showed his true colour, abandoning both his promised reforms and the people who voted for him. What started out as a reaction to the utter brutality of the fossilized establishment by young Iranian students has turned into a freedom movement the world should acknowledge and encourage”, Iranians said in a statement.

Amnesty International and the New York-based Human Rights Watch renewed their calls to Iran's judiciary to undertake an independent and impartial judicial review of the trials of demonstrators convicted after their arrest during the 8 July 1999 demonstrations.

“The organization also calls on the authority to carry out investigations of allegations of torture made by these prisoners and ensure that anyone found responsible for the torture is brought to justice” Amnesty International said in a statement released on Thursday from London.

“Five years latter, the authorities have taken no measure against those who conducted the savage attack on students and we are certain that like in the case of the serial murders, those who ordered the raid would never be identified”, one scholar told Iran Press Service, hinting indirectly at the very person of Ayatollah Khameneh'i who actually ordered the forces to put down the revolt, the largest ever against the 25 years old Islamic Republic.

Iranian analysts said the authorities preventing peaceful manifestations by the students would further damage the already difficult relations between Tehran, now firmly controlled by the conservatives, with the rest of the world, mostly the European Union, which, in a recent statement, had strongly condemned the Islamic Republic for its handling of human rights. ENDS STUDENTS COMMEMORATION 8704


Ahmad Batebi, a student arrested and jailed during the 8 July demonstrations, became the symbol of Iranian fighting against the Islamic Republic.


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