Student Day in Iran, held on December 6, commemorates the day in 1953 when the Iranian police killed three unarmed Tehran University students in cold blood. It is observed by freedom-loving students who remember not just the trio killed that day, but the thousands of students who lost their lives fight for freedom and the hundreds of thousands more who were imprisoned or tortured.
Iranian students, especially women, have always been at the forefront of the fight for freedom, no doubt because of the horrific restrictions imposed on women and young people. In the nationwide protests of December 2017 and November 2019, students came out and took part, chanting “Reformer, Hardliners, the game is over”.
On Student Day 2019, students commemorated the 1,500 protesters killed by security forces during the protests and the government sent thousands of their forces to universities to stop protests, something that ultimately proved unsuccessful. The students chanted:
- “A student dies but will never succumb”
- “The people fed up with oppression stand together”
- “Prison, gun, or batons will not silence us”
- “My martyred brother, we will continue on your path”
- “The classroom is empty; the student is in prison”
- “Political prisoners must be freed”
Despite increased control at universities, large scale protests broke out there in January, following the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) shooting down a Ukrainian passenger plane and killing 176 passengers.
The security forces attacked the students with batons, tear gas, guns, and water cannons, but the students chanted:
- “1,500 people were killed in November”
- “Death to this state, all these years of crime”
- “Khamenei is a murderer, his rule is invalid”
After the protests, the authorities issued unfair sentences against students, especially female students.
The protests would have continued throughout the year if not for the Coronavirus pandemic, which ayatollahs used as a weapon to oppress protests, even if hundreds of thousands of people died in the process.
Iran’s student union council wrote on December 1: “Although the closure of the university to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has been disastrous for students, it has been a blessing for university officials. The most important advantage for university officials is for students to lose the right to use the university environment as part of the public space.”
“While officials at the Ministry of Science, a government institution, try to show concerns about students’ health, the fact remains that official and unofficial death tolls and government policies to reduce the number of Coronavirus victims demonstrate the opposite,” they added.