Alireza Jafarzadeh Discusses the Iranian University Student Movement

Universities Lead the Way Toward the Overthrow of Iran’s Clerical Regime

BEHIND THE IRAN HEADLINES Series, December 8, 2023, Alireza Jafarzadeh, NCRI-US Deputy Director

December 7th marks the 70th anniversary of the oppressive and corrupt Shah’s unprecedented deadly crackdown on the University of Tehran in 1953, where three students were brutally shot to death.

The attack occurred just months after the puppet Shah usurped power following an anti-Iranian coup d’état – which brought down the democratic and nationalist government of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh – as a means to silence dissent forever.

However, the despotic Shah colossally failed. Twenty-five years later, he was toppled by a popular revolution that put an end to monarchy as a form of governance in Iran forever.

Shortly after the 1979 anti-monarchic revolution, Khomeini, who had usurped the leadership of the revolution, also saw universities as a hotbed of dissent and democratic opposition to his theocratic regime and ordered a nationwide crackdown and purge under the banner of a “Cultural Revolution,” after he closed all the universities for three years.

He, too, failed. College students later became the backbone of the MEK-led nationwide resistance movement. They form a significant portion of the political activists executed or imprisoned since the early 1980s.

We have seen the leading role of universities and how they have spearheaded the protesting masses in recent uprisings since 2017, ensuring the success of the ongoing democratic revolution.

The universities played a leading role during the 2022 uprisings. The students’ bravery and political acumen were on full display. Scores were shot to death, and thousands were arrested.

On December 7, 2022, many colleges and universities across Iran were chanting slogans that became the hallmark of the uprising. “Down with the Oppressor, be it the Shah or the Supreme Leader,” “Death to the dictator,” “With hijab, without hijab; Onwards to revolution.”

Today, Iranian students, male or female, are more determined than ever to fulfill their leading role in spearheading the movement. Many of them are organized in the MEK’s Resistance Units.

This is how they honor their fallen peers and will continue to do so until the clerical dictatorship is buried forever.



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