By Pooya Stone
On February 16, students of Amir Kabir University in the Iranian capital Tehran gathered in protest to the government’s bloody crackdown on protesters in November 2019.
The protesting students demonstrated their wrath against authorities who violently responded to the rightful grievances of the people over hikes in the gasoline price. The deadly suppression in November, which is one of the bloodiest in the history of the ayatollahs’ rule, resulted in more than 1,500 killed and at least 12,000 detained, according to reports obtained by the Iranian opposition. However, the government has yet to announce the ultimate death toll.
Students also extended their sympathy with the families of the victims of the shot down Ukrainian airliner which left 176 people killed. On January 11, three days after the plane crash, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Force Amir Ali Hajizadeh admitted the IRGC anti-aircraft had shot down the airliner. He claimed that a “human error” was the reason for the tragedy. However, authorities didn’t prosecute even one person, and the criminal or criminals are still free. In this context, on the 40th day of the heartbreaking incident, contrary to Iranian officials, the Iranian opposition paid homage to the memory of the victims.
“On the 40th-day memorial of those who lost their lives in the IRGC’s downing of the Ukrainian passenger airliner, we honor their memory and express sympathy with their families,” tweeted Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) on February 16.
On the 40th-day memorial of those who lost their lives in the IRGC’s downing of the Ukrainian passenger airliner, we honor their memory and express sympathy with their families. #UkrainianPlane #Iranhttps://t.co/E5DThfqhYC pic.twitter.com/ujcL3OiC3i— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) February 16, 2020
Notably, despite officials’ admission to their role in downing the plane, they still refuse to hand over the block box to either foreign countries or the manufacturing company. Besides the three days of secrecy over the truth of the “human error,” the refusal to send the black box to other countries raised many skepticisms over the motivations behind the hollow claims.
Protesting students also displayed their determination for boycotting the scheduled parliamentary elections on February 21, chanting, “People are struggling in poverty, they’re seeking votes!” Senior officials and ayatollahs frequently plead with the people to participate in the elections. The students’ slogan was referring to non-democratic elections whose winners have previously been specified by the supreme leader Ali Khamenei and his appointees in the Guardian Council. Even Hassan Rouhani, the so-called president, described the elections as a formality ceremony without competitive space.
Students also remembered the 1,500 innocent people who were cruelly killed in November and chanted, “1,500 people were killed in the November protests!” They truly highlighted that the election is only a publicity stunt while the authorities have massacred at least 1,500 youths in public. However, the ayatollahs didn’t hide their real purpose of holding elections by insisting on the public presence alone, which shows they only intend to earn legitimacy for their unelected rule through ballot boxes.
“Hollow security in a hollow republic,” demonstrators chanted, mocking Khamenei’s claims over security and republic. They also reject ayatollahs’ describing of protesters as rioters and seditionists by chanting, “Don’t call me seditionist! You oppressors are the [root of] sedition!” They also chanted, “Where is justice?!” in sympathy with the families who have lost their loved ones in the November protests and airliner crash.
Protesters showed their solidarity with the fed-up people in Iraq who have poured onto the streets in protest to the destructive role of the Iranian government and its agents in this country since October 2019. “From Iran to Baghdad, poverty, cruelty and dictatorship” was the slogan of the protesting students in objecting to the mullahs’ meddling and influence in neighboring countries.