Sunday, 4 October 2009

Iran's students: defying stereotypes

Dear readers, again I must apologise for my recent absence from the blogosphere, the start of term is always accompanied by a surge of extra work.

But I have been following the goings on in Iran, and at the same time which I began studying so did my fellows in Iran, and as the universities opened on the 23rd of September, alongside academic commitments, for many students this was also the best time to continue their struggle for freedom and democracy, as they have done admirably with protests springing up in campuses all across the country.

Iranian universities are no stranger to political activity, and were rated as the Number One Campus for Activism in 2003, "for unflinching dissent in a nation where speaking out can lead to imprisonment, or worse" . So it begins again, as we hear that 14 members of the Unity for Consolidation Office (Iran's National Union of Students) were arrested on October 2nd, and their wherabouts remain unknown with the authorities denying knowledge of the arrests to the student's families. Translation of the article is provided here.

Here in the UK, Student's Unions provide us with cheap drinks and academic support. Iran's Students Unions however are far more radical. The fourteen people who were arrested were members of Takhim Vahdat, originally setup by Khomeini's government so Islamic students could counter the influence of dissidents who might have been spreading secularist ideas in universities. Takhim Vahdat has now evolved into one of the harshest critics of the Islamic Republic and has repeatedely pressed for a national referendum on the future of the Islamic Republic and has also told the unelected Mullahs to suspend their nuclear activities. Sadly, many of the members of this organisation are jailed, tortured (very often so they give false confessions) and killed, but they have continued fighting for freedom and democracy in a very courageous manner as seen notably in December 2008 when the students of Shiraz University told Ali Larijani (Speaker of the Iranian Parliament) that they reject him because he is the "leader of an illegal Parliament". Brave souls, I'm not one prone to hero worship, but watching that guy give his speech, I could not help but feel like a lesser man.

To sum up, Takhim Vahdat is an extremely important institute and one that will be crucial in the coming months and years. The clerics in Iran thrive off an atmosphere of division and disunity but university provides a breeding ground for collective dissatissfaction to accumulate and increase, especially since graduates and students have a tough time in Iran, even if they're not political activists. The arrest and abuse of each and every freedom loving student in Iran is a catalyst in the eventual destruction of the Mullah dictatorship, and brings us closer to the rebirth of humanity and liberty in Iran.

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