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Students Tell Rouhani 'Thunder Of Military Boots' Being Heard Across Iran

A student gathering in Iran protesting repression. File photo
A student gathering in Iran protesting repression. File photo

In a letter to President Hassan Rouhani more than 500 student activists have condemned the expanding presence of security agencies and "the deepening atmosphere of repression" dominating universities in Iran.

The students have also criticized what they say is "competition" between intelligence organs in suppressing Iranian students and others, including teachers, workers, and dervishes across the country.

Meanwhile, commemorating Student Day in Iran (December 7), the Iranian Students Trade Councils disclosed in a statement that more than 300 students have been arrested this year, sentenced to a total of more than 100 years, thousands of lashes, and banned from leaving the country for a year.

Implicitly referring to President Rouhani's catchphrase, saying that "I am a lawyer, not a colonel", the students have noted in their letter, "We voted for the lawyer, not the judge! However, what could we do? Today, the attorney and the judge have joined hands to create an atmosphere of strangulation to suppress rightful social protests."

According to student publications and Ensaf News, the signatories of the letter have also accused the ministries of Interior and Intelligence, as well as the police of a "regrettable competition" among parallel intelligence organizations to silence everyone. Nevertheless, the students have directly addressed Rouhani, saying, "You still insist on merely denying (these facts)."

Listing hundreds of other protest letters addressed to Rouhani in recent years, the students' rights activists have asserted, "These protest letters not only remained unanswered, but…repression intensified to the extent that the thunder of military boots are not only heard at the universities but echoing all over Iran".

In the meantime, universities across Iran, including Tehran, Semnan, Kermanshah, and Tabriz, witnessed hundreds of gatherings and sit-ins on Saturday, December 8, condemning the repressive measures against workers, teachers, and students whose only demand is "respect for their absolute rights".

Iranian students clash with riot police during an anti-government protest around the University of Tehran, Iran, 30 December 2017
Iranian students clash with riot police during an anti-government protest around the University of Tehran, Iran, 30 December 2017

Prior to the Student Day in Iran, in an unprecedented development, an ultraconservative student group had asked the country's Supreme Leader to show up and give accountability about the Islamic Republic's 40-year record.

In the letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an ultraconservative group called upon him on November 22 to attend a gathering in Tehran University and answer questions from students related to the performance of the "Islamic ruling system" for its 40-year record since the downfall of the monarchy.

The letter also demanded Khamenei respond to questions concerning the performance of state-run institutions under his supervision, including the Islamic Revolution Guardians Corps (IRGC) and other armed forces, as well as the judiciary, the Mostazafan Foundation of Islamic Revolution and the national radio and television network, a state monopoly.

Later, the group, under heavy pressure from Khamenei's conservative allies and the so-called parallel intelligence apparatuses, backed down and retracted its demand. Yet surprisingly, the branch of the same group in the city of Shiraz, southern Iran, repeated the same demand days later.

Khamenei's office has not yet reacted to the "invitation", so far.

Calling Khamenei to personally attend students gathering and respond to their questions has occurred at a time that the dean of Allameh Tabatabaei University believes that Iranian students have lost their interest in politics.

"Iranian students are reluctant to participate in political activities," said Hossein Salimi, the president of Allameh Tababaei University in Tehran, one of the largest universities in the country.

Speaking to the state-run Iran Students News Agency (ISNA), Salimi, a former cleric, said the main reason students have lost interest in politics is that they fear the consequences of expressing their opinions.

According to Salimi, 60-70 percent of the permits his university issues for student gatherings go unused.