Sunday, March 18, 2018
Iranian Students Jailed for Democracy Protests
by Sina Zekavat
Reprinted from the Alliance of Midde Eastern Socialists
March 16, 2018
After a wave of popular protests began in Iran in December and called for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, the regime immediately arrested over one hundred leftist student activists in order to prevent the development of any organic relationship between the working-class protesters and the university students. These students were mostly abducted from their homes at night, were charged with “endangering national security,” detained for up to several weeks, partially released and told to wait for their trials.
In early March, the first set of trials were held and issued the following verdicts: A six-year prison sentence and an additional two-year travel ban for Leila Hosseinzadeh, a Tehran University anthropology student and student council representative. A one-year prison sentence and an additional two-year travel ban for Sina Rabi’i, a sociology student at Tehran University. Other students such as Parisa Rafi’i, Marzieh Amiri, Zahra Ahmadi are currently on trial or expect to be put on trial in April.
On March 11, a gathering by students at Tehran’s Polytechnic University to protest these verdicts, was violently attacked by members of the government’s paramilitary Basij forces who accused the students of being “Zionists” and severely beat them. Other students at Allameh Tabataba’i University held a protest and carried the symbolic corpse of a student on their backs.
The long prison sentence given to Leila Hosseinzadeh seems to be related to the fact that she is an outspoken socialist feminist and student leader.
The latest revival of leftist demands and politics among university students across Iran started a few years ago in reaction to the intensified imposition of fees on higher education and university services/amenities on the one hand, and an increasing use of security forces on university campuses on the other, by both political parties, i.e. reformists and principalists.
For a long time the reformists had held a rigid monopoly over campus politics and mobilization. But it was during the December 2017 mass protests that this monopoly was profoundly challenged. In fact it was the leftist students at Tehran University who stood in solidarity with the nationwide protests and chanted “Reformist or principalist, this story has come to an end!”, a powerful slogan that challenged party-centric establishment politics and immediately became popular across the country.
The student movement in Iran is regaining its independence and centrality in Iran’s domestic as well as foreign politics. It is of critical importance for other internationalist, progressive and anti-capitalist student movements across the globe to lend their support to this student movement and stand in solidarity with organizers such as Leila Hosseinzadeh and others.
March 16, 2018