The doctors risking it all to treat Iran’s protesters
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Tehran University’s students sit in front of the university’s student union building, which they occupy to demand university reforms.
Their demands include the freedom to speak outside the university’s walls.
The university has been the scene of weeks of protests against the country’s clerical establishment since the summer.
More than 7,000 students have blocked the entrances to the city center in recent weeks.
Iran’s government-run media has played up the role of students in the student protests, portraying them as revolutionary zealots who are defending the ideals of the Islamic revolution.
They are not. The protesters are mostly students at the university who are worried about low student enrollment rates, the rising cost of education and low salaries after a sharp spike in oil prices.
The student union that occupies the building, the only point of resistance to the government’s siege of Tehran, has long been a thorn in the government’s side. The student union, whose members are not allowed to leave campus, was once led by the late Mohsen Rezaie, a leading opposition figure in the 1979 Islamic revolution.
In the years since Iranians have been in a state dominated by the hardline Islamic government, the student union has gone from being a bastion of dissent against the clerical establishment to being seen by supporters of the government as a bastion of the opposition.
An estimated 7,000 students have been arrested and some, including Rezaie, have been killed. The student union has also been attacked by protesters for organizing against the regime.
Student protesters were the main face of the recent protests against the clerical establishment, and some of them are still arrested every few weeks.
“My father was in the Revolutionary Guards for 25 years,” said Rezaie, who was jailed and tortured for months after he was arrested as a student in 1990. He graduated from college in 1992 – the only university he would ever attend – and was killed in a 1991 demonstration outside the university.
“It wasn’t the Revolutionary Guard, but the security forces that wanted him behind bars,” Rezaie said.
The protests of the past three years have not only affected