When massive numbers of Iranians took to the streets following the sham election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June, the regime hoped to quash the protests with intimidation and force. It has failed. The latest evidence of the democratic movement's force? Student Day earlier this month. The roots of Student Day go back to Dec. 7, 1953, when Iranian students protested the coup that ousted Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh. The Shah's regime responded by attacking Tehran's Polytechnic University, murdering three students. Every year since, Iranian students have observed "16 Azar" (Dec. 7) to commemorate the three students killed by the Shah. But after the 1979 revolution—and with the blessing of the government—Student Day was turned into a useless, perfunctory occasion.
Yet in December 1991, students who believed in what they saw as the true ideals of the Islamic Republic began to once again use Student Day to protest against the regime's oppression. The government and its military branch of students—the student basij—reacted with violence.
Despite the regime's repression, as time passed, the importance of Student Day grew among student leaders—from the left to religious democrats to pro-Western democrats—even as they lived in constant fear of the government's ruthlessness. Many were repeatedly sent to prison where they were tortured.
I was one of those student leaders. In the regime's view, I was considered to be an architect of a st... >>>
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