Suppression of student protests, another nail in the coffin of reformism in Iran


As another nail in the coffin of the reformism myth in Iran, “reformists” and hardliners cracked down on the student protests in July 1999.

22 years ago today, the authorities in Iran mercilessly took action against students protesting in Tehran and several metropolises such as Tabriz, Mashhad, Isfahan and Shiraz. The day before, on July 8, 1999, the judiciary sealed the “reformist” paper, Salam.

In response, students from Tehran University flocked to the streets venting their anger at the government’s repressive measures. Hopefully they held a peaceful gathering calling on the “reformist” President Mohammad Khatami and his government to guarantee freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

However, the “reformist” president has not only paved the way for bloody repression that left at least 20 dead and hundreds injured. Around 1,500 students were reportedly detained, tortured and beaten for confessions.

President Khatami betrayed students

Despite student protests in support of “reformism” and “reformism”, President Khatami, the most prominent leader of the “reformists”, avoided condemning the repression and recognizing the rights of the demonstrators.

Instead, he condemned the student movement and involvement in the repression, which was perceived as another nail in the coffin of “reformism” in the Islamic Republic’s system. In fact, he has practically demonstrated his loyalty to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his theocracy contrary to his previous claims about freedoms, civil rights, women’s rights and moderation.

“After the incident at the dormitory, there was a riot. Turmoil and chaos in Tehran, it was an ugly and disgusting incident that disturbed our dear, resilient, patient and rational nation, ”said Khatami at a meeting in Hamedan city on July 27, 1999.

“What happened in Tehran was a blow to national security; It was an attempt to alarm noble people, to destroy public and private property and, moreover, to insult the state, its values ​​and the Supreme Leader, ”he added. “This uprising was in fact not only an anti-security act, but also a declaration of war on the president and his promises. With God’s help this chaos was suppressed. “

On the occasion of the 18th peaceful demonstrators. At the time, Rouhani was secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC).

“On July 9, 1999, the armed forces countered street riots under a license from the SNSC and the councilor, ie President Khatami,” Fars Firouzabadi quoted as saying.

Later, on February 26, 2018, Firouzabadi leaked further details about Khatami’s role in the suppression. “Mr. Rouhani called Mr. Khatami. Khatami said, ‘If the IRGC wants to participate, they shouldn’t wear overalls.’ We said, ‘Okay, we order them not to wear uniforms.’ Then Khatami said, ‘Tell the IRGC troops to do what they want.’ When he said this sentence, every commander called his unit and the uprising was put down, ”explains Firouzabadi.

At the end of his tenure, Khatami openly blamed the students when they visited Tehran University. “Don’t get angry. You are young You do not know what it is about. If you represent the nation, I am the nation’s enemy, ”he replied to student protesting on December 6, 2004.

In this context, Khatami has practically proven that both “reformists” and “principleists” are from a single source. They strive to keep the theocracy in power and their political rivalries are just publicity gimmicks to prevent public protests.

Khamenei showed that the Islamic Republic would never change its behavior

On May 10, 2017, Khamenei explicitly stated that the Islamic Republic would never give up its repressive measures in Iran and its aggressive and provocative behavior abroad. “The enemy’s long-standing target is the principle of Islamic State … behavior change is no different from regime change,” noted Khamenei of the IRGC University called Imam Hossein.

“Changing behavior means, if we follow the path of Islam, that [Islamic] The way of the revolution, the way of the Imam, take an angle now; go first 20 degrees, then 45 degrees, then 90 degrees and finally 180 degrees contrary to them. This is the behavior change that is undermining the Islamic State, and that is its longstanding purpose, ”he explained.

In July 1999, Khamenei had proven that he only speaks the language of oppression with demonstrators. In this regard, his loyalists Ansar-e Hezbollah and Basij paramilitary forces, both linked to the IRGC, attacked defenseless students.

They brutally kicked doors, broke through hallways, grabbed female students by the hair and set rooms on fire. Several students were hurled from balconies on the third floor onto the sidewalk below. Several students, including Saeed Zeinali, were forcibly disappeared.

However, in order to gain political and financial privilege, advocates of appeasement in the United States and other European countries ignored the Islamic Republic’s cruelty against demonstrators. They took no significant action to curb further human rights violations. Of course, they had already blacklisted the leading opposition group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK / PMOI) to appease the ayatollah’s brutal rule.

Foreign Minister Madeleine Albright introduced the MEK as a foreign terrorist group in Tehran in October 1997 as part of her diplomatic efforts to establish a dialogue with moderates. Some reports from the time bear witness to this.

“A senior Clinton administration official said the admission of the People’s Mujahideen was a gesture of goodwill to Tehran and its newly elected moderate President Mohammad Khatami,” Norman Kempster wrote in the Los Angeles Times.

Oppressor of the student protests

In addition to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and then President Mohammad Khatami, as well as then Chief of Staff Hassan Firouzabadi and outgoing President Hassan Rouhani, current officials played a crucial role in the repression.

Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf

In 1999 the President of Parliament (Majlis), Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, was the commander of the IRGC Air Force. He was heavily involved in cracking down on the 1999 student protests.

In his campaign for the 2013 presidential election campaign, Ghalibaf specifically said he was on the streets when the regime’s security forces attacked the protesters during the 1999 protests.

Ghalibaf is also proud to have taken a stand against the MEK since 1980 and to “be on the streets with sticks” to defend the regime when necessary. Ghalibaf was named state police chief in 2000 and was actively involved in the establishment of various new units to ensure social crackdown.

In addition, in the third debate for the 2017 presidential election, President Hassan Rouhani raised part of the repressive role and looting of Ghalibaf.

“In 2005 I had the case of Mr. Ghalibaf. However, I did not have it published and discussed it with several people in the SNSC Secretariat. I was of the opinion that nobody should be informed during the election campaign [about the case]. Mr Ghalibaf, you would not be sitting here now if I did not do you this favor, ”said Rouhani in the May 2017 election debate.

“Lord. Ghalibaf, you always intended [protesters] in ‘pipes’. Each time you said in the secretariat: ‘Let me put these students in pipes for over two hours. If we had not contradicted you now, all Iranian universities would have been filled with pipes, “the news agency ILNA quoted Rouhani on May 12, 2017.

Qassem Soleimani

In 2013, Ghalibaf also admitted the role of Qassem Soleimani, former head of the IRGC’s Quds Force, in suppressing student protests in 1999. Soleimani was known as the orchestrator of Tehran’s terrorist operations in the Middle East and around the world. On January 3, 2020, he was finally killed in a drone attack in Baghdad while he was on the way to carry out terrorist attacks against the US embassy. His death caused joy among the citizens of Iran and the countries of the Middle East.

“I wrote this letter during the July 9, 1999 incidents at Tehran University and its dormitory. I was with Mr. Soleimani. We stood firm. Many people have criticized us. Even today they criticize us everywhere we go, ”said Ghalibaf.

“When rioters approached the Supreme Leader’s office, I was the commandant of the Air Force. My photo exists on a 1000cc motorcycle with a bat in hand with Hossein Khaleghi, ”added Ghalibaf.

Ebrahim Raisi

Ebrahim Raisi, the “winner” of the 2021 presidential race, was a senior judicial authority at the time. He was the head of the inspection organization that monitored and reviewed the performance of all ministries and government agencies.

In this context, Raisi realized what happened on the streets during the bloody raid on defenseless students. He said nothing, however, and practically endorsed the repression that paved the way for him to win the seat of Justice in 2019 and the presidency in 2021.

Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i

Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i had, like Raisi, exercised a high level of judicial activity at that time. He was a Tehran public prosecutor and a few months ago a controversial court ruled on the corruption cases of the then Tehran mayor Gholam-Hossein Karbschi. Thanks to his merciless decisions, Eje’i was recently appointed head of justice by Khamenei.


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