Wednesday, October 19, 2005
STUDENTS IN IRAN PROTEST
Student unrest continues to bubble in the Islamic Republic of Iran according to sources from all sides of the political spectrum.
Iran Focus reports that last Saturday thousands of students from the Najaf-Abad Open University demonstrated on campus on Tuesday against new sex segregation rules. The demonstration by a reported 7,000 students was attacked by security forces.
Students complained about new measures implemented on campus, including separate entrances and exits for male and female students, refusal of entry for students with long hair, short-sleeve shirts, bright-colored clothes, or sports shoes.
Chants of “Bassijis, leave the university” could be heard during the rally. The Bassij are hard-line Islamist vigilantes loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Basij were established by revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini. Today the Basij act to enforce the country's strict Islamic codes.
This eyewitness report of the protest Najaf-Abad Open University came from the student publication Bazr:
“At 11:30 AM a large group of boys and girls of the technical college gathered in the hallways. They all chanted in unison: "Shame on you Despots, release the Universities from your claws - Shame on you Despots, release the students from your claws." The University students were so enraged, they began to break windows. The now frightened guards stepped aside and began to survey and scrutinize the student activists.”
“The head of the guard unit came forward and told the students: ‘Keep it up and later you'll pay the price.’ This enflamed peoples' emotions even more; everyone booed him. Then people began to tear down the light fixtures and since the ceilings of that area of the university was artificial and flimsy, the entire hallways' ceiling came crashing down. The students then picked up the garbage cans, raising them over their heads, began to throw them toward the guards, shattering all the big windows nearby. The water coolers were ripped out of their places and dumped on the ground with water splashing all over the floor. Nothing could hold these students back and when the Dean came to calm the situation down, he was pushed to the back and his office was demolished as well. The only thing that could be heard was the shattering of glass everywhere and the constant chanting against the regime and their ruthless guards.”
”The female students were very active and both the boys and girls continued chanting in unison while attacking the guards. For the many students who had, over the recent years, been involved in the student uprisings, these scenes became reminiscent and therefore rejuvenated, galvanized and energized them.”
Meanwhile the state owned daily Jomhouri Islami reported that students from a female dormitory of Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran protested late Sunday night about living conditions at their university. They reportedly clashed with security forces, set paper and several tires on fire, while also chanting for the resignation of the university dean. Parts of the female dormitory have had no water supply for several days.
The state run Islamic Student News Association said, “…a significant group of the University students who reside in the Beheshti University dorms, gathered and set fire to a section of the men's dorms; they were protesting the lack of academic standards as well as their living conditions such as the disconnection of running hot water in the women's dorms and lack of simple accommodations. Several students blocked the fire department from entering the area whose fire they wanted to contain."
Throughout the protest the disciplinary forces dispersed the throngs of civilians who gathered in order to observe the protest. Sources: ISNA, Jomhouri Islami, Iran Focus, Iran Press News, Bazar, My News and Ideas (blog)