“Student’s Day” on 7 December was used by the Iranian opposition to stage a huge anti-government protest, which turned out to be the most aggressive day of protests since they began in June. Hundreds of thousands of people joined the students on the streets. The further escalation of protests and clashes with the police and Basij has confirmed our analysis that this is the beginning of a revolution.
On 7 December the Iranian regime celebrated “Student’s Day”. But since the Iranian opposition has developed an intelligent tactic of using official celebration days to stage anti-government protests, this turned out to be the most aggressive day of protests since they began in June. Hundreds of thousands of people joined the students on the streets.
Despite a lot of attempts of the “reformists” and advocates of “non-violence”, not only did thousands of people join the students in commemorating this day, “linking University with the street” (as they called it) but they also openly clashed with police, Basij and other goons of the regime, defending themselves and hurling stones at them.
Demonstrations and clashes once again erupted in cities all over Iran: in Tehran, Shiraz, Tabriz, Kerman, Esfahan, Mashhad, Yasooj, Rasht, Bandar Abbas, Boroojerd, Zanjan, Arak, Hamedan, Bandar Abbas, Najaf Abad, Kermanshah and etc. Violent protests in some cities continued into the second day (December 8) as well.
Iran’s Student Day is a commemoration of three students that were killed by Shah’s forces in 1953 when they attended a protest against then US Vice President Richard Nixon. This day, which became the official Student Day after the 1979 Revolution, has traditionally been a day of the Left, especially because many of those who were killed and injured in 1953 were supporters of Tudeh Party (the “Party of the Masses” which was the Communist Party).
During the worst days of reaction and repression of the opposition in the 1980’s, this was one of the few days where you saw protests. But, in recent years, December 7 has been used even more widely by Socialist and Marxist activists in Iranian universities to stage openly socialist demonstrations with their red flags and slogans such as “Socialism or Barbarism!”, “Freedom and Equality” (a traditional socialist slogan in Iran) and “Worker, Student, Unity, Unity”. The “Association of Socialist Students of Iranian Universities” was formed out of this day. It was thus to be expected that protests on this day would be of a more militant nature.
The regime expected this, too. They took every possible measure to prepare for this day: they arrested dozens of student leaders in the days leading up to the demonstration, ordered all the foreign news outlets to stay away and tried to limit internet accesses.
In Tehran, the capital and the main battleground of the revolution, they took the harshest measures. They surrounded Tehran University and other universities like Amir Kabir with police and militia forces. They placed a big 150-feet banner in front of the main gate, which is located right near Enqelab square, in the heart of downtown Tehran, to hide what was going inside the university from outsiders. But in the end they failed to stem the protests or to stop it being broadcasted outside Iran.
All the reports coming from Iran have proved our perspectives to be correct. The protests are becoming more militant, in form and content, with every day that passes. Tear gas and gun shots and Basij thugs now get an answer from people who are now prepared to fight the regime’s goons openly and valiantly on every street. A feeling of revolutionary solidarity is prevalent in Iran, where protesters are helped by people from all walks of life. For example, in a scene of heated battle in Enqelab Avenue, a truck driver unloaded his bricks and gave them to the people who used them as ammunition to fight the government forces. “People carried them to surrounding areas where government forces were attacking people and used them to fight back.” (Iran Khabar Agency).
Clashes were so fierce that in some parts the force of the regime crumbled to the degree that infighting broke out. Esmayil Ahmadi Moghadam, the head of the police forces, said that police ranks were undisciplined. In a very strange scene, we witnessed that a group of militia members with chains and truncheons attacked a bus full of riot police officers, the reason for this not being immediately clear.
The attempts to build a wall of censorship and not let the news to get out of Iran also failed. They could expel CNN and BBC of course, but thousands of “Civilian Journalists” used whatever means they had to get the news out. As a result thousands of videos and photos taken by protesters came out in Iran. Supporters of the movement abroad got the latest news and reports from Iran, translated them and published them all over the Internet.
One such website which updated every ten minutes or so during the protests is Persian2english's Blog that is run from Toronto but gets help from Europe and other countries. Activists of the website, IMT supporters within them, stayed awake all night to get news directly from the people in Iran and translate and broadcast the news. Many such examples exist. As a result, more than 2000 foreign media outlets carried detailed reports of the protests.
Websites continue to report on the situation of individuals who are arrested and tortured by the regime. More than 204 people, based on government media reports, have been arrested; 86 of whom have been already released by the time we wrote this article. Some of the best student leaders and activists were arrested and savagely beaten up. These include Mehdi Bolkhari, Meisam Hashemi, Kianoosh Asa and Majid Tavakoli, who gave a very militant speech in Amir Kabir University. International campaigns for their release have already been started.
December 7: another nail in the coffin of “non-violence”
When on June 15 we started calling what is happening an Iran “the beginning of a revolution”, many protested that these were merely anti-fraud demonstrations. Ever since then numerous attempts have been made by people from all the colours of the political spectrum to pretend that what is going on in Iran is merely a “Green movement” in support of Mousavi and Islamic “reformists”, and to limit the protests to “non-violent” actions.
The Freedom Movement of Iran, a traditional party of Islamic liberals, called on people not to be “deceived” and to “not answer violence with violence”. A lot of pundits asked people to not use slogans such as “Death to the Dictator”, in a sudden hypocritical show of benevolence for the murderous mullahs who rule Iran. This talk of “non-violence” and Gandhism is very prevalent among pundits of the Iranian diaspora who use their classical counter-revolutionary and anti-Marxist language to ask people not to be “too radical”. Some of the more blatant ones even dare formulate arguments such as “100 years of a bad regime is better than one day of people committing violence!”
Iranian people proved once again on December 7 that they are going to fight this brutal regime that has killed so many of them in the last 30 years, especially since the protests began in June 2009. This was evident in both the form and content of the protests. Open and violent clashes with police and Basij proved once more that this is a decisive war that has to end with the victory of one side. The genie has come out of the bottle and will not go back in.
Also the content of slogans shows that more and more people are aiming not only at the government of Ahmadinejad but at the entire Islamic regime. Just look at what New York Times, which cannot be accused of a revolutionary bias, has to say in its reports:
“Protests also included the most aggressive gestures aimed at the Islamic republic yet, witnesses said, with some protesters burning posters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader…
“Monday’s protests showed a striking escalation in direct attacks on the country’s theocratic foundation and not just on the June presidential election, which the opposition has attacked as fraudulent.
“Protesters burned pictures of Ayatollah Khamenei, and even the father of the 1979 revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini. They held up Iranian flags from which the “Allah” emblem, added after the revolution, had been removed.
“But in recent months, it has become unclear how much Mr. Moussavi speaks for the opposition, which includes many who appear to be taking a more radical approach and demanding an end to the theocracy. During Monday’s demonstrations, there were fewer people with clothing or banners in the trademark bright green color of Mr. Moussavi’s presidential campaign. And there were more chants aimed directly at Ayatollah Khamenei — a taboo that has increasingly eroded since the election. In addition to the now common chants of ‘death to the dictator,’ some protesters chanted, ‘Khamenei knows his time is up’ on Monday.” (excerpts from New York Times, 7th and 8th of December 2009).
We could also point to a video recently distributed all over the net that shows teenage girls in a female high school in Isfahan. These are some of the slogans that these teenagers used: “I will kill, I will kill, those who killed my Brothers!”, “Death to this demagogic government!”, “Death to the Dictator”. If this is what teenage kids are saying, imagine rest of the people!
These slogans will further cause a lot of people to tremble: not only the brutal rulers of Iran but all those counter-revolutionary elements, from the imperialists in Washington and London to the hypocritical pundits who come out under the banner of the “Green movement”, but ask people not to go down the way of “another failed revolution” and not to use slogans with “death” in them. It is clear that “Death to Dictator”, also accompanied by “Death to Khamenei” and “Death to oppressor, whether Shah or Supreme Leader” is, just like “Death to Shah” in the 1979 Revolution, a demand to bring down the whole regime of dictatorship and is not only aimed at a single person.
After December 7 the reformers, who are really enemies of the revolution and are always terrified by the sight of millions on streets will have a much harder job. We should make it clear that those who ask people not to fight back against the regime are in fact supporting Ahmadinejad and Khamenei. When you ask a people to disarm in a situation that is akin to a civil war, you are in fact asking for the victory of the oppressive regime. These “non-violence” advocates are in fact supporting violence, for they ask the most violent regime to stay on.
Revolution Disrupts Dealings of Imperialists and Mullahs
We have said before that the beginning of the revolution was a blow to plans of both the Obama administration and the Ahmadinejad government who were trying to somehow reconcile. Obama had offered his hand to the ruling mullahs with his New Year message to “People and Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” and his secret personal letters to Khamenei. But the revolution has meant the forcible entry of the masses onto the scene of history, which meant that deals and negotiations could no longer be hidden behind closed doors.
Ian C. Kelly, Spokesman of US Department of State, has refused to answer a question about whether US supports the protesters. He has also said openly that even though they are “concerned about Human Rights situation in Iran,” their “main priority” is to solve the Atomic dispute with Iran. For years the regime has been shadow boxing with the West over the issue of nuclear weapons. At first, it looked as though the Geneva negotiations were going well for the regime. But now it has all been reduced to dust: the Council of International Atomic Agency ratified a resolution against Iran (the first in four years), the negotiations stalled and Iran is being subjected to attacks from all sides, including thinly veiled threats of military action (bombing) from Israel.
This dispute is an expression of the blatant hypocrisy and double standards of the imperialists. The USA spends over 600 billion dollars every year on arms. It has a stockpile of the most lethal weapons of mass destruction in history. It has nuclear arms, chemical arms, biological arms, etc. It tolerates nuclear weapons in the hands of its Israeli and Pakistani allies. It has helped India to develop its nuclear arms programme. But it invaded Iraq on the false pretext that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons, and is now accusing Iran of the same thing.
The constant attacks against Iran are helping Ahmajinadad and the Mullahs, who pretend (falsely) to be defending Iran against imperialism. But this demagogy is no longer having the desired effect on the people of Iran, who are fed up with the repressive and corrupt rule of the Mullahs. For all their “democratic” demagogy, the imperialists dread a revolution in Iran that will have a profound effect throughout the Middle East, where the reactionary pro-imperialist regimes of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Lebanon are hanging by a thread.
The Way Forward
The further escalation of clashes and protests has confirmed our analysis that this is the beginning of a revolution. Given the absence of a genuinely revolutionary leadership, this movement can have a protracted and convulsive character. It will experience many ups and downs, but it is heading inexorably toward a final showdown. But through all the vicissitudes, the masses are learning.
This is proven by the kind of anti-government slogans chanted in the recent protests. Slogans such as “no shah, no leader” and actions such as bringing a emblem-less flag to the streets means people are already thinking about the future government. The movement is becoming more and more radicalized. But it lacks a militant leadership that is capable of providing it with a focal point that could concentrate its energies. The main weakness so far has been the lack of massive participation of the Iranian working class. What we need is a general strike of workers to bring the whole regime down.
The brutal attacks on unarmed demonstrators by the thugs of the regime raises the question of self-defense. People should form defense committees, based on elected councils in their neighborhoods, schools, factories, etc. The main weakness is due to the fact that the Left is in disarray, which means that many people distrust the left organizations. But this can be overcome. Thousands of Marxists and socialists exist all over Iran. Their task should be to build the nucleus of a genuine, mass revolutionary party, while taking an active part in the protests and strive by all means to link them to organized workers. That is the only way to take the movement forward and guarantee its success.
Students shouting "Death to Basij"
Students breaking throught a university gate
University of Science and Technnology