Kidnapped, jailed, beaten ... over a bloodied T-shirt Repression goes on while Iran seeks friendship with the West. Dan De Luce reports from Tehran Sunday April 4, 2004
His handsome face was seen around the world. The photograph, used on the front of the Economist magazine, showed Ahmad
Batebi, his hands holding the bloodstained T-shirt of a fellow student beaten by paramilitaries. His look of indignation captured
the mood of young Iranians demonstrating for democracy in the summer of 1999.
Just holding that shirt earned Batebi a 15-year prison sentence for endangering national security, served in the notorious
Evin prison in north Tehran.
The student is still paying the price for his dissent. His father told The Observer last week he had given up trying to
persuade the hardline Iranian judiciary to review the case. 'I believe my son is just a pawn for the political authorities,'
said Mohammad Bagher Batebi, a softly spoken man who travels three and a half hours every other Sunday to see his son for
only 15 minutes.
'I have sent letters to the judiciary but they don't even acknowledge receiving them ... Our only hope is the outside world.'
After meeting a visiting United Nations human rights envoy last November during brief leave from prison, Batebi was abducted
and subjected to threats, sleep deprivation and other psychological torture before being thrown back into prison.
'When I saw Ahmad after that, I could hardly recognise him,' his father said. A prison doctor recently recommended the
student receive medical treatment outside the jail for injuries - caused by beatings - to an eardrum, his left eye and his
lower back. The judicial authorities have yet to answer the request.
In the first three months of his imprisonment, Batebi wrote an open letter to the authorities describing how interrogators
held his head in a drain full of excrement and beat him on the testicles. His trial lasted for just three minutes, with the
Economist cover cited as evidence that he had jeopardised the reputation of the Islamic republic. His case illustrates how
Iran's clerical establishment continues to rule through repression and fear. Dozens of other political prisoners languish
in jails across the country. Human rights monitors say no one knows precisely how many because some families choose to suffer
Reformist MPs helped to arrange correspondence courses for Batebi and temporary leave for him to take his university exams.
Other student prisoners do not enjoy such privileges, however.
'Please mention the other students in prison. They have it much worse,' Mohammad Batebi said.
One of his son's cellmates, Arzhang Davoudi, 49, was detained after meeting Batebi during his November leave.
Davoudi, speaking on a prison telephone last week, told The Observer he was beaten severely during his first days in detention,
but had refused to apologise for his political activities or writings.
'I can't hear in one ear now because of the beatings and I have trouble seeing out of my left eye,' said Davoudi. 'I don't
regret anything and I didn't confess to anything. I don't co-operate at all... We want the world to know all the brutality
that is going on in Iran, especially against intellectuals.'
Shortly after the interview Davoudi was transferred from the political prisoners' cell block to one housing ordinary criminals,
Batebi's family said.
After more than 2,000 reformist candidates were barred from the Iranian election last month, campaigners for democracy
fear Western governments may ignore Iran's authoritarian methods.
'The regime believes it can cut deals with Europe and America, then do as it pleases domestically,' said one Iranian journalist.
Even some American conservative policy analysts favour defusing tensions with Iran and promoting dialogue after the US
presidential elections in November. European governments disagree about how to balance concerns over human rights abuses with
the desire to cultivate relations with a powerful, oil-rich state in the Middle East.
The European Union has linked progress on human rights in Iran to trade negotiations. Although the engineered elections
last month will delay any EU deals, European firms continue to sign new contracts with Tehran.
The Iranian leadership no longer executes its political enemies and has backed away from repression when it has sensed
popular hostility. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, intervened in 2002 after demonstrations against a death sentence
on Hashemi Aghajari, a maverick academic who questioned the clergy's divine right to rule. The execution was suspended, and
Aghajari has continued to speak out from a prison cell.
The judiciary, dominated by clerics steeped in Islamic Sharia law, defends its human rights record and accuses foreign
governments of trying to impose secular notions on an Islamic society. The stoning of women adulterers has been suspended,
and officials cite this as an example of progress.
But Batebi Senior is unconvinced. 'My son's experience shows that human beings in Iran have no value,' he said.
|Torture by the Clergymen of Iran
|Abducted, tied to a table, arms burnt by acid
|Burnt by gunpowder, names and slogans burned into his back
|Eye Removal Torture... Islamic Regime's invention.
"Eye removal torture developed by Islamic Regime of Ayatollahs (Holy Crime).
Victim Seyed Taghi Tabatabai, his hands are tied to the bed header... "
The victim, cry: Please, please, oh, my God, Oh my God...that
is going to hurt... doctor please, help me...God please help... for the God sake please help...
Please help, God, doctor, please help...
Photographer: Doctor, your hand is on the way...
I am telling you, doctor, I cannot see anymore... leave my eye alone...
I asked that you remove you hand is on the way...
Dr.: Seyed Taghi...
it off, finish it off Doctor...
Dr.: Open the eye, keep it open...
Victim, in pain:
Oh God, Oh, God...
Photographer: Doctor, your hand is in the way...
Victim in pain:
Doctor, please don't push, oh my God, my head is exploding...
When knife might turn and cut the holder's
A dangerous era has passed in Iran over the
last 25 years. It is not that far away when the discussion about the ever increasing population of Iraq and Iran in particular,
took place in Security Council of United Nations.
It is not too far back when Mohammad Reza Shah's government realized that high school levels and the graduates of the Iranian
educational system in general, ranked below or fell behind every other industrialized nation in the world. Therefore, he thought
of "Education Army" as part of his "White Revolution". Graduates, doctors, engineers, educators, dentists and specialists
were deployed in every Iranian village as part of their military service, to teach and help to reduce the rate of illiteracy.
The religious fanatics under the influence of "mullahs" and/or ayatollahs, and in turn under British influence, opposed
the Shah's land reform and disliked the education plan instigated by Shah for everyone. They were harbouring the belief that
their religious teachings would be endangered. They preferred to draw a snake when teaching the word to an illiterate villager,
rather than showing how to write it!!
The country was in the fast lane to progress and modernization; oil revenues were increasing rapidly, thanks to the Shah's
guidelines and his oil minister Manoutchehr Amouzegar's administrative ability . It was in the process of embarking upon modernization
and industrialization that Amouzegar and some other OPEC oil ministers were taken hostage by an imaginary "Carlos", the international
This incident was a wake-up call to Iran and other members of OPEC. At the time, no sacrifice was made by either the oil
producers or the oil buyers. Both parties, each adhering to its own principles, were locked in a stalemate. The world watched
Iran and other oil producing countries with distrust and became worried about the supply of crude oil in the years to come.
Heads of states at the G-7 meeting in Guadeloupe came up with a suitable plan to avert unexpected possibilities in the times
Shortly thereafter, in 1979, Khomeini's so called "Revolution" materialized as part of an International Conspiracy to weaken
Iran. Financial institutions, factories, private properties were attacked and destroyed. Starting with NIOC employees, finally
nation wide strikes paralyzed the country. The world under cruel influence of Britain was not interested in modern Iran, nor
did they ever like the idea of "Petro-Dollar" and the link of crude oil price to the manufactured products from oil or other
resources. The giant oil companies with their respective governments, could not tolerate the fast track of modernization and
industrialization under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi II.
The scenario of "Mass Mess" of 1979, written for Iran and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi II, was put into play. 2500 years
of Iranian monarchy was wiped out and was replaced by a puppet regime of Mullahs under the pretext of "Nation Building" program
as forced by Britain, USA and their allies onto the people of Iran.
A backward glance will show that every moment of such
movement was guided by Britain, thanks to BBC, watched by other allies and received support from USA. Britain has always well
demonstrated her expertise in religious matters : experienced in India since 1906; helped the establishment of Islamic Republic
of Pakistan in March 1956; flipped over the history book of oil and reviewed Lawrence of Arabia's diary, decided to highjack
the trend and eventually Ruhollah Khomeini was suggested to replace the monarchy in 1979.
(For in detail information go to the bottom of the page and click on How a Plot Convulsed Iran 1953/1979)
The true compatriots started having serious questions about "Religion" in general and Islam in particular. In 1980 the
employees of the American Embassy were taken hostages and the Ayatollahs were believed to have been negotiating the hostages'
freedom against the delivery of the Imperial family to the new regime. That, obviously, was what propagators liked the public
to see. The situation smelled of oil. Iranians did not have a choice other than becoming progressively involved in the "Mass
People were promised "free" oil at their door steps by Khomeini, a delusion that never materialized. People were left with
an alternative between "Red" and "Green" ballots to choose "Islamic Republic". People had to vote under the watchful eyes
of "Guardians of Revolution" Pasdaran surveillance. Following the establishment of Khomeini's regime, many high-ranking officers
were executed: General Rahimi, General Pakravan, General Khosrow-dad. Many were assassinated: Prince Shahriar, the nephew
of the Shah, Shapur Bakhtiar etc., (for more detail please visit the other pages)
Why did the United States and western world tolerate a regime whose abhorrent attitude was proven by the terrorist act
of hostage taking in 1980? One generous answer is the lack of reliable background intelligence about the religion and religious
regimes. Another is the hope that United States fostered in believing the best about a new phenomenon called "Ayatollah",
set forth by Berzhinski's (National Security adviser to Jimmy Carter at the time) doctrine as a "green belt" to block communism.
Nowadays, a quarter century after the event and in shadow of September 11, 2001 terrorist attack to New York City and Washington
DC, even when the evidence suggested something very different, yet to a large extent, ignorance and hope covers the motivation.
Believing in Khatami and his famous "lie" about "dialogue of civilizations", or in a better word, many "buy-back agreements"
in oil and other resources, prevented the USA and its allies to help the oppressed people of Iran, who have been crying for
freedom and secular regime for over 23 years.
There are outstanding evidences that religions have ceased to demonstrate self-discipline or sense of responsibility among
the civilizations. It is crystal clear that the Taliban, the Ayatollahs and other fanatics and fanatical movements in the
world fail to exercise necessary prudence, foresight and responsibility. Living conditions have started deteriorating in the
societies that have been ruled under theocratic regimes. This makes the curious minds remember the era of inquisitions in
Europe for 12 centuries.
If the USA had a good knowledge of Islam and the other religions, she would not have built trust in them and would have
expected the unexpected illogical consequences.
"And there is the type of man who gives his life to earn the pleasure of God ." Baghara 207, "God purchased from believers their persons and their belongings to give the paradise in return. They fight in His cause
and kill and are killed, a promise binding on Him in truth through the Old and New Testaments and the Kuran, and who is more
faithful to his covenant than God? Then rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded. That is the achievement supreme."
Tobeh 111. With these teachings in the form of religion, retribution and revenge is a personal duty, clearly said and feasible.
If the United States would not have failed to study religions and the Koran in particular, which clearly stipulates the
personal duties and responsibilities, perhaps would have saved lives, money and dignity. Emphases on religious training expunge
the human reason and foresight, and person feels accountable to exchange his/her life with promised heaven. Devoting to such
values and standards for that matter under any religious standards is no longer a prerequisite, it is a creed.
Religions, Mosques, Synagogues and Churches might have disciplined the believers and taught wise standards of behaviour
that would have kept people out of trouble and might have been assets to both individuals and the community. But those are
feasible and useful or necessary in daily life on the basis of possessing mental health. Since the arrival of Khomeini and
Taliban, religion has relinquished the self-discipline and has issued license to kill as well as take one's own life. Khomeini
and his followers, on behalf of God, unconditionally forgive those who participated in "Jihad" against Iraqis (other Muslims)
and brainwash individuals to walk on mines in exchange for "heaven's key" (small plastic keys made in an East Asian country).
Part of the conspiracy theory suggests that the mass killing in the 8 years of war between Iran and Iraq has been the result
of United Nations' concern about the ever increasing young population in Iran.
Anwar Sadat's assassination by a religious group, the Algerian massacre, suicide attacks on Israeli towns and genocide
in the separated states of former Yugoslavia are a few notable examples. The world must have learned enough from such religious
concepts which have been manipulated to create unstable, inverted and clear psychological disorders, both in individuals and
the community as a whole. Who has been behind those terrorist acts? I shall leave it to you to discover.
Yet, these days the motives are very much hidden under the surface of propagators' goals and are the result of some connections
between secret agents and other political bodies. This whole scenario resembles a knife that might turn and cut the holder's
Just think about it.
How a Plot Convulsed in Iran 1953/1979 - Part 1
How a Plot Convulsed in Iran 1953/1979 - Part 2
Bureau of Democracy,
Human Rights, and Labor
Washington, DC April 9, 2004
Struggling To Be Heard
The Iranian people have a long and sophisticated tradition of expressing their views and their
feelings, whether through art, literature, film, news media or the political process. Today the courageous voices of the Iranian
people are being stifled as they call for their rights, beliefs and needs to be respected. In response, the non-elected elements
of the Iranian Government hierarchy are rebuffing these calls and attempting to extinguish the voices. Recent experience shows
an upswing in repression by the regime, but also a determined resilience by the Iranian people as they struggle to define
their own future and exercise all their human rights. For every voice that is silenced, more call out for freedom.
VOICE EXTINGUISHED: Zahra Kazemi:
"They have broken my nose and my thumb and they have broken my toes, too. Zahra Kazemi,
as reported in the Washington Post "
On June 23, 2003, outside the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, police took the
Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi into custody under suspicion of espionage. Some 3 weeks later she died in a
Tehran hospital from head injuries suffered from a violent beating, most likely at the hands of her jailers. The circumstances
of her death are unclear, but the story that unfolds is one that illustrates the grave human rights situation that exists
in Iran today.
Although Zahra Kazemi was never charged with a crime, she would spend 77 hours in a police interrogation
that included serious physical abuse. According to a subsequent Iranian investigation, Zahra began complaining of headaches
and bleeding from the nose 3 days after her detention; she then fell into a coma and was transferred to a hospital where she
Almost 2 weeks after Zahra had first been detained, her mother, Ezzet Kazemi, was summoned to Evin
Prison and notified that her daughter had suffered a brain stroke and was now in a coma. After Zahra died from her injuries,
it was agreed by Ezzet and Iranian officials in the presence of the Canadian ambassador that Zahra's body be repatriated to
Canada. But the body did not make it to Canada. Iranian officials pressured Ezzet to change her decision, and Zahra was eventually
buried in Shiraz, Iran, thereby preventing an independent autopsy.
Zahra's death was first deemed natural by Iranian
officials, but international outrage, spurred in Canada by Zahra's son, Stephen, helped to bring about an official Iranian
investigation into the incident. The investigation clearly implicated the involvement of government officials in the death
of Kazemi. A junior official in the Ministry of Information has been arrested, but as of publication the trial had not begun.
There remain widespread suspicions, voiced inside and outside Iran, that the arrest of this junior official could be part
of a cover-up aimed at protecting higher-level government officials. Reporters Without Borders also has expressed concern
about the slow pace of the impending trial and the prosecutors' lack of access to materials concerning the case.
Mrs. Zahra Kazemi's death was caused by the heedless disregard for Iranian law. When there are individuals or groups who consider
themselves above the law, incidents such as this will occur. In the case that we will present, in addition to asking for the
punishment of the murderer, in view of the public's knowledge of what happened, I will try to ensure that there will not be
another Zahra Kazemi. Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Attorney representing the Kazemi family
VOICES SUPPRESSED: Attacks on the Free Press
The independent media in Iran is under constant attack. According
to Reporters Without Borders, at least 10 journalists were in Iranian prisons at the end of 2003. There is a clear pattern
of interference and harassment of the press by government officials with dozens of reporters, editors and publishers arrested
and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, harsh physical punishments, excessive fines and suspensions of journalistic privileges.
A number of cases illustrate the types of abuses prevalent in Iran today:
As many as 85 newspapers, including 41 dailies,
have been closed since the passage of the 1995 Press Law that established a supervisory board and court that has authority
to impose various penalties, including closure and suspension of operating privileges.
In December 2002, Ali-Reza
Jabari, a translator and freelance contributor to several independent newspapers, was arrested in his Tehran office by plainclothes
policemen and taken to his home for an immediate search of the residence. Jabari was sentenced to 3 years in prison and 253
lashes. Before his arrest, Jabari was quoted in a Persian-language newspaper in Canada expressing critical opinions of Ayatollah
Taghi Rahmani, a journalist for Omid-e-Zangan, has been imprisoned since June 14, 2003, and has been
subjected to extensive periods of time in solitary confinement. According to a Human Rights Watch report released in January
2004, Rahmani has yet to be charged with a crime.
Reza Alijani, editor in chief of Iran-e-Farda, was jailed in June
2003 but has not been charged with a crime. Much of his imprisonment has been spent incommunicado.
Hoda Saber, managing
editor of Iran-e-Farda, was arrested in June 2003 but has also been held without charge since his arrest, much of it incommunicado.
VOICES PERSECUTED: The Bahai Faith
The Constitution of Iran establishes Islam as the official religion, specifically
that of the Jafari (Twelver) Shiism doctrine. While the Constitution also recognizes other Islamic denominations, as well
as Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians, followers of minority religions can be subject to harassment, intimidation and discrimination.
The freedom to practice a religion not recognized by the Constitution is actively restricted by the Iranian Government, both
in law and in practice. Members of unrecognized minority faiths are subject to varying degrees of officially sanctioned discrimination,
particularly in the areas of employment, education and housing. The Bahais are not recognized as a legitimate religious minority
in Iran and, in fact, were defined by the government as a political sect with suspicion of counterrevolutionary intentions.
But according to a report published jointly by the UN Commission on Human Rights and the Bahai International Community, the
tenets of the Bahai faith require its members to be obedient to their government and to avoid partisan politics, subversive
activities and all forms of violence. Still this community has been the target of systematic mistreatment by the Iranian Government
since 1979 and is denied a majority of the basic human rights afforded others within the society, including other religious
According to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of the U.S., more than 200 members of the Bahai
faith have been killed in Iran since 1979, with 15 additional missing and presumed dead. As of this time, there are reportedly
four Bahais in prison for practicing their faith, with sentences ranging from 4 years to life in prison.
has continued to keep a small number of Bahais arbitrarily imprisoned, some at risk of execution, at any given time. Another
policy employed to harass and intimidate the Bahai community is periodic arrest and release with charges still pending, so
that the Bahais are subject to re-arrest at any time.
Reports suggest explicit government policies exist to harass
and disenfranchise members of the Bahai faith. One policy issued by the Iranian Ministry of Justice in 2001 directed government
officials to restrict the educational opportunities of Bahais by expelling them from public and private universities and purposely
enrolling members of the Bahai faith in ideologically stringent schools.
In response to being denied admittance to
both public and private universities, members of the Bahai faith have organized their own educational system. However, the
Iranian Government has used harassment and intimidation to discourage its operation, including raids in 1998 of more than
500 Bahai homes and offices affiliated with the Bahai educational system. These raids included the arrest of numerous faculty
Through discrimination in the employment market and outright seizure of private property, the economic
well-being of the Bahais is in serious peril.
VOICES OF DEMOCRACY: The Political Struggle
"Our dream country is one where human rights are respected, where
people aren't sent to prison and tortured for their ideas, for their writing, for their work. That's our dream country."
of imprisoned student leader Amir Fakhravar, anonymously interviewed for a PBS Frontline report
The political situation
in Iran is a story of two drastically different worlds occupying the same reality. Throughout Iran there is now widespread
alienation from the corrupt, oppressive policies of the government that have consistently failed to address the Iranian people
s yearning for liberty and an accountable, democratic system of government that will pursue policies that improve their daily
lives. In June 1997 and again in 2001, a decisive election victory ushered President Mohammed Khatami into office under the
auspices of a reformist agenda. The realization of this reform movement has been actively stifled by hard-line elements within
the government, most specifically by the un-elected Guardian Council, a board of clerical leaders and legal scholars. Reformist
and dissident voices within the government and society have been repressed and harassed by government and quasi-government
factions under the influence of the hard-line clerics. The Guardian Council has the ability to review and block legislation
passed by the Majlis, or parliament. In August 2002, the Guardian Council vetoed two bills passed by the Majlis seeking to
enhance the powers of President Khatami. Various paramilitary forces, such as the so-called Basijis, gangs of men known as
the Ansar-e Hezbollah (Helpers of the Party of God), and most recently a morality force formed in July 2002, have been employed
as tools of repression within Iranian society. These vigilante groups use intimidation, threats and physical abuse to quell
dissent and harass journalists, demonstrators and members of the public who voice opinions that are seen as threatening to
the power of the religious elite. Eventually, the reformist movement s inability to realize its agenda contributed to the
erosion of the Iranian people's confidence in the government institutions.
On February 20, 2004, elections were held
for the 290-seat Parliament in Iran. In a move to diminish pro-reformist re-election chances, the Guardian Council disqualified
approximately one-third of the 8,200 submissions for candidacy, including those of more than 80 reformists currently holding
Majlis seats, effectively limiting the democratic alternatives available to Iranian voters. Despite threats of an election
boycott, resignations by some reformist officials and the urgent passage of a law barring undocumented disqualifications,
the Guardian Council only reinstated a fraction of the disqualified candidates. Conservative candidates did not face a reformist
opponent for 132 of 290 seats. The decision of the Guardian Council to silence reformist voices in Parliament was accompanied
by the culmination of a four-year campaign against the reformist press. On the eve of the elections, Chief Prosecutor Mortazavi
added the last two reformist newspapers to a list of dozens that his Press Court had ordered closed since 2000. In addition,
the hard-line judiciary sealed an office belonging to a leading reformist party on the night before the election. In today's
Iran, the political aspirations of the public for a greater role in charting the direction of their society are only tolerated
when they coincide with the wishes of entrenched conservative interests.
"Through these massive disqualifications,
they (hard-liners) want only their own thinking to control the next parliament. This will be no more an election, but an appointment
of the next parliament by hard-liners."
Mohsen Mirdamadi, Member of Parliament
A VOICE OF HOPE: Shirin Ebadi
"Shirin Ebadi has been a courageous human rights advocate in Iran for many
years, and we couldn't be more excited that she has received this extraordinary honor. The Nobel Committee has sent a powerful
message to the Iranian Government that serious human rights violations must end. We hope they hear that message."
Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch
As a lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer and activist, she has spoken out
clearly and strongly in her country, Iran and far beyond.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee
Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2003 for her life-long
campaign to protect vulnerable and persecuted groups within Iranian society. Since being forced from her position as the president
of the city court of Tehran, she has used her legal expertise to promote and protect some of the most basic and necessary
human rights. Most specifically, she has provided legal representation to many activists who are the targets of government
harassment because of dissident opinions and democracy promotion. She has courageously fought for equitable and just treatment
for women in Iranian society, and she has also helped to organize efforts to publicize and alleviate the harsh conditions
of street children in Iran.
Any person who pursues human rights in Iran must live with fear from birth to death, but
I have learned to overcome my fear.
Ebadi has shown a noble and inspiring disregard for her own well-being by representing individuals
or the families of people who have suffered from violence and repression in Iran. In 2000, she was arrested and accused of
distributing a videotape that implicated prominent hard-line leaders of instigating attacks against advocates of reform. She
received a suspended sentence and a professional ban. She was then detained after attending a conference in Berlin on the
Iranian reform movement.
Ebadi provided legal representation for highly politicized and sensitive cases, like the
case of Ezzat Ebrahim-Nejad, one of the students killed during the 1999 Tehran University protests by vigilante groups operating
under the influence of hard-line clerics. She also served as the attorney for the family of Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar,
prominent political activists who were stabbed to death in 1998 by rogue elements within the Intelligence Ministry. Shirin
Ebadi's designation as the recipient of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize recognizes the struggle of Iranian citizens to have a voice
in determining their own future.
"In Iran, the demand for democracy is strong and broad as we saw when thousands gathered
to welcome home Shirin Ebadi, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The regime in Tehran must heed the democratic demands of
the Iranian people, or lose its last claim to legitimacy."
President George W. Bush
VOICES OF THE FUTURE: The Aspirations of Youth
"We want more freedom For 25 years we have lived without any
freedom. We want social freedom, economic freedom and political freedom.
Mahmoud, protestor quoted in New York Times
Throughout modern history, young people have played a prominent role in the call for democracy. Iran is no different.
Students have mobilized to demand greater freedoms and to support reform efforts by the Khatami Government, the Majlis, and
individuals willing to speak the truth. A free media, a fair electoral system and public debate typically serve as the outlets
to express the desires and disappointments of the civic minded. These outlets have been systematically shut, leaving large
student demonstrations in the streets as the only way to voice frustration and anger in Iran.
In June 2003, a large
protest began in Tehran involving university students in response to a rumor alleging the possible privatization of the university
system and the introduction of a tuition system. The protests grew as nightly gatherings spread off campus and the tone of
the protests became more political as the students and sympathetic neighbors began to use the public gathering as a forum
to decry the current political situation and demand democratic reforms. The intersections of Tehran were jammed with cars
honking their horns in support of the demonstrations. Iranian Government officials reported approximately 4,000 protestors
arrested and demonstrations planned for the following month were banned. No reliable sources were available on the number
of injured, but there were numerous reports of violent clashes between students and paramilitary groups in the streets of
Youth represents the future of Iran. Yet the regime's vision of the future clashes with the dreams of young
Iranians, who have the most to gain or lose. Their continued support for reform through whatever peaceful means available
sends a clear message. They will make their voices heard.
"Iran is an ancient land, home to a proud culture with a
rich heritage of learning and progress. The future of Iran will be decided by the people of Iran. Right now, the Iranian people
are struggling with difficult questions about how to build a modern 21st century society that is at once Muslim, prosperous
and free. There is a long history of friendship between the American people and the people of Iran. As Iran's people move
towards a future defined by greater freedom, greater tolerance, they will have no better friend than the United States of
President George W. Bush,
July 12, 2002
(end fact sheet)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov) http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2004&m=April&x=20040409135830cpataruk0.3585474&t=livefeeds/wf-latest.html