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Remembering the historical uprising of Tehran students against the Iranian regime

Iranian Student Protests of July 1999 in Tehran, also known as 18th of Tir and Kuye Daneshgah.
Iranian Student Protests of July 1999 in Tehran, also known as 18th of Tir and Kuye Daneshgah.

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

Iran, July 9, 2020—In the early hours of the evening of July 9, 1999, a large number of students at the Amirabad student dormitory in Tehran University staged an anti-government demonstration and chanted slogans against the ruling regime's repressive policies.


Shortly after, the suppressive forces surrounded the dormitory and attacked the students with teargas, clubs, and fire weapons. Three students were killed during the Revolutionary Guards' attack on the Tehran’s university, and more than 1,000 were injured and about 1,000 others arrested.


The students demanded the resignation of the Interior Minister of then-president Mohammad Khatami . On July 10, 1999, thousands of students protested against the regime in streets of Tehran while chanting slogans that had been popularized in the 1979 anti-monarchy revolution such as “I will kill he who killed my brother,” and “cannon, tanks, machine guns, they no longer work.”


Also, during this demonstration, a student was shot in his eyeball and died few hours later. In total, seven students were killed at the hands of the regime’s security forces that day.


Similar protests took place in other cities, and like Tehran, they were suppressed. In Tabriz, security forces killed a student and arrested dozens of others. Tensions climaxed. Hundreds of thousands of students and youths protesting in Tehran another and torched the Friday prayer hall of the regime at the University of Tehran. The students chanted “the mullahs’ regime must be ousted,” “the uprising has begun, 20 years of this rule is over,” and “Fear the day we pick up arms."


The students also chanted slogans against the regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. They bravely shouted: “Khamenei have some shame and leave the leadership,” and “down with tyranny and hail to freedom.”


Many actual leaders of the regime such as current president Hassan Rouhani and parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf were directly involved in suppressing the student protesters in July 1999.


During the 2005 presidential race, Ghalibaf, then a candidate, said, “In 1999 [student protests], I was one the club-wielders. What happened in 1999 at the Kuy-e Daneshgah, I was the one who wrote the letter to the president (letter of IRGC commander to Khatami demanding the suppression of students), I and Qassem Soleimani, When the protesters were on their way to the Supreme Leader’s house I was the commander of the IRGC Air Force. You can see my picture riding on a 1,000-cc motorcycle with a club. Alongside with Hossein Khaleghi, I was in the middle of the streets to sort it all out. When it is necessary to be in the streets and wield clubs, I’m proud of it.”


Ghalibaf continued: “In 1999, after the Kuy-e Daneshgah incident, during the National Security Council meeting I strongly argued and said very harsh words and did not respect the dignity of the meeting and said that tonight anyone who wants to come to the students alley and want to do these things, I, as the commander of the NAJA (State Security Forces), will crush and wipe them. Aziz Mohammadi (IRGC commander) is a witness… in that meeting I received permission for military action and shooting (at defenseless students) from the Security Council in the university alley.”


During the 2017 sham presidential elections, Hassan Rouhani, who was vying for his second mandate, mentioned the same issue and said, “In 2005 the case of Mr. Ghalibaf was in my hand and I prevented it from being published and I argued with some in the secretariat that no one should be informed about this during the election times, and if I was not so indulgent you were not sitting on that chair today. Mr. Ghalibaf, your plan was always to crush and every time you came to the secretariat you said let me crush these students within two hours. If we did not oppose you, all Iran’s universities were crushed today.” (Source: State-run ILNA news agency, May 12, 2019)


Later on, Rouhani’s allies published an audio tape with contained part of Ghalibaf’s admission to suppressing student protests in 1999.


Rouhani himself at that time was the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and played a major role in the crackdown targeting the protesting nation.


While calling students “thugs,” “corrupt” and “spiteful,” Rouhani said in a speech on July 14, 1999, at the end of a regime-orchestrated rally against the students: “Yesterday, a decisive order was issued against these elements, and yesterday evening, a decisive order was issued so that any movement of these opportunistic elements, wherever they may be, be dealt with severely and suppressively.”


These protests and the massive crackdown by the regime, triggered a fresh movement of resistance in the Iranian student community. Many Iranian youths and students became drawn to the Iranian Opposition, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), which had been calling for the overthrow of the regime since the 1980s. Some even went to Camp Ashraf, Iraq, to join the struggle against the tyrannical regime of the mullahs. Many youths considered the MEK and its struggle as the only way to overthrow the religious tyranny.


A decade later, in 2009, the world witnessed another wave of nationwide uprisings in Iran, which took place after the sham presidential elections. Again in December 2017 and in November 2019  the cry of the Iranian people against the ruling mullahs and their desire for a free and democratic Iran filled every corner of Iran. In January 2020, Iranian students took to the streets in several cities and called for regime change


This is a tradition and struggle that started in June 1981, after the regime banned and brutally suppressed any form of opposition, and continues to this very day. The Iranian people, especially the students, will never forget July 9, 1999, and they will continue the path of the martyrs who laid down their lives on that fateful day to set an example of standing up against tyranny and oppression.


Today, Iranian students continue their struggle against mullahs’ dictatorship. Ali Younesi and Amir Hossein Moradi, two genius students in Tehran, went missing on April 10. After 26 days, the Iranian regime’s judiciary admitted to having apprehended them and holding them in custody. While every country cherishes and nurtures its young generation, in Iran, genius students have to spend their days behind bars and in torture chambers.


The Judiciary Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Esmaili accused these students had linked up with the MEK. Ali Younesi and Amir Hossein Moradi were accused with trumped-up charges such as being engaged in “diversionary actions” and “attempting to carry out sabotage operations.” The spokesperson of regime’s Judiciary said that “Explosive devices used in sabotage operations were discovered when their homes were searched.”


Younesi won the gold medal of the 12th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics, held in China in 2018. Earlier, he had won the silver and gold medals of the National Astronomy Olympiad in 2016 and 2017. Amir Hossein also won the Olympiad silver medal in 2017.


Following the arrestation of Younesi and Moradi, Iranian regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei expressed his grave concerns for the MEK gaining influence and support among Iran’s younger generation.


“Time and again I have suggested to various officials to go and visit our universities and talk with the students. However, in response they say whenever we do go, the students’ objectives are not to be informed about the country’s issues; in fact, they are interested in tainting the state’s image. That is why officials don’t pay visits to our universities. I am asking you, please, do not prevent an atmosphere of dialogue,” Khamenei said in utter hypocrisy. However, his remarks do shed light on his concern about hatred among Iran’s youths, especially college students, vis-à-vis the mullahs’ regime.