Thursday, April 24, 2008

About Freedom and Equality Seeking Students

April 2008
For Immediate Release
Please copy and distribute via print and electronic media

The “Freedom and Equality Seeking Students” (also known as “Daneshjoojyan'e azadi khah ,khah va barabari'talab” or “DAB”) is a group of radical Iranian university students. In 2006, the group began its opposition to Iran’s dominant classes and their ideological apparatus. Marxian analysis of contemporary society served to provide the guiding principles of their movement. The bloody repression of Iran’s leftist groups throughout the 1980’s
amounted to nothing short of a political genocide -- a matter that is largely overlooked by contemporary historians. The Freedom and Equality Seeking Students knew this and chose to forge a brave path forward despite the risks before them.

Their original objectives included the following:
1) To form a nationwide network of politically active Iranian students.
2) To fulfill the need for a students’ guild in Iran.
3) To abolish the military occupation of Iranian universities.

These goals were essential points in their organization of Iran’s Students’ Day (Azar 16)
demonstrations of 2006. The two essential slogans in the 2006 Students’ Day activities were “No to War!” and “Free Universities from Invading Military Forces!”

Continuing in their efforts to spread the word regarding the struggle, DAB promoted their opinion and their theory through articles published in university-based magazines and local newspapers from various cities in Iran. The also published work through literary sites such as Art Cult and Mind Motor.

Iranian students continued the important work of organizing demonstrations through 2007, holding events on March 8 (International Women’s Day) and May 1 (May Day). The final scheduled event of 2007 was the annual Students’ Day event, (December 6 or Azar 16 1386). The event was planned as a huge, coordinated series of demonstrations to be held at universities across the entire nation. The Iranian regime was alarmed and threatened by the political implications of these events and exercised extreme repression in an effort to disrupt Students’ Day activities. Three days before Students’ Day 2007, political leaders, organizers and students affiliated with Iranian students were arrested and imprisoned. All together, about 70 people were arrested including friends and relatives of Iranian students members.
Some of the people arrested in the second round of the crackdown were friends and relatives of DAB students. They were released after a week. About 60 of the arrested students remained in custody for 20 to 30 days, enduring solitary confinement and torture. Most of these individuals were required to post exorbitant amounts of money for bail prior to being released. They are currently awaiting trial for their alleged “crimes.” There is news that there are unbelievably heavy sentences tailored for the DAB students. We fear very heavy sentences including extended periods of imprisonment and execution for group members and DAB leaders.

These brave students have done nothing but practiced their freedom of expression in a very peaceful manner within the limits of the Iranian constitution. To date, four of the leaders of the Freedom and Equality Seeking Students remain in custody. During the course of their imprisonment, they have been subjected to horrendous mistreatment and torture . Even now, as of the date of this correspondence, this abuse continues on a regular basis. The imprisoned leaders of Iranian students remain in custody and under extreme conditions because their families cannot raise the high bail amounts imposed by the courts.

Behruz Karimi Zadeh is now kept in Ward 209 of the Evin prison. He is suffering from extreme trauma resulting in internal hemorrhages . His right ear is deaf and bleeding. His bail is set at $300,000 dollars, an amount beyond his family’s reach.

Peyman Piran is losing his eyesight. He is having difficulty walking and his shoulder blade is damaged because of being hanged by the hands for long hours. He is kept at ward 350 of Evin prison.

Ali Kantoury could not be recognized by his colleagues because he is terribly sick , suffering from skin disease, constant vomiting and difficulty breathing. All of these conditions are the direct results of his mistreatement while in custody. Moreover, he has been denied medical treatment, thus exacerbating his significant health problems. He is kept in Rajayee Shahr prison, a notorious prison for political prisoners . Conditions in the prison are very harsh and political prisoners face harassment and attack from criminal inmates at the direction of prison guards.

Majid PourMaajed was stabbed while walking in the streets of Tabriz. He was kidnapped a week later and taken to jail. In a matter of 10 days, he was taken to a hospital in Tabriz. He was found to be unconscious at the time of his admission. The specialist who visited him advised press that Pour Maajed’s arms were covered by cigarette burns and that he was repeatedly vomiting. It was also reported that Pour Maajed was urinating blood because a hot rod had been inserted into his genitals. Pour Maajed was still in coma 3 days later when intelligence service agents moved him to an undisclosed location. His current whereabouts are unknown.

Amin Ghaza’ee is currently out of jail on $50,000 bail. Both Amnesty International and PEN International issued statements expressing concern on his well being during his imprisonment. Amin Ghaza’ee is currently awaiting trial along with his friends.

These students and political activists -- all of whom range in age from 20 to 25 years old -- are facing serious sentences, including lengthy periods of imprisonment and even execution. The fabricated allegations against group leaders include charges of apostasy, attempting to overthrow the Iranian regime and collusion with opposition groups outside of the country. Each of these charges is punishable by death according to the Islamic legal system of Iran. The students fear that when the allegations are presented in the court, there will not be much time to defend against these charges. It will be difficult and to rescue these victims of the Iranian regime’s wrath from the forces of reactionary oppression.

Some DAB members are trying to flee Iran. Some are seeking asylum in Turkey and some have reached European countries and established temporary residences. They are all in need of financial and humanitarian aid permanent residences in friendly countries.

Up until now, only Human Rights Watch has expressed public concern by issuing a statement of concern regarding the torture of the imprisoned Iranian students.

The struggle of the Freedom and Equality Seeking Students of Iran deserves international attention. For far too long, religious and humanitarian organizations as well as progressives and radicals worldwide have turned a blind eye to the situation in Iran. Many comrades have faced extreme repression, torture and execution while the international Left has remained silent. This is more than unfortunate...It is a virtual betrayal of their efforts and sacrifices.

Some groups and organizations have hesitated to express solidarity with the Iranian students because they do not understand the basic philosophical tenets of Iranian students. It is possible that non-political groups might find any group operating under the principles of Marxist theory to be somewhat suspect, particularly if such organizations are operating under a “Cold War” mentality. The political and philosophical framework of Iranian students is simple: These students -- who are admittedly secular -- have engaged in a very open-minded approach towards Marxism and they are sensitive to matters regarding individual rights and civil liberties. They believe equality and freedom are essential for a nation’s well being and they hold that civil and constitutional rights for women, as well as racial, ethnic, religious, and sexually-oriented minority groups must be practiced in their motherland of Iran.

The Equality and Freedom Seeking University Students of Iran never attempted to overthrow the government of Iran. They never attempted assist foreign countries in interfering with Iranian affairs. They never attempted an insurgency against the Iranian regime. They have committed no crimes.

Our comrades are desperately in need of international media attention as well as assistance from political and humanitarian organizations.

Time is fleeting and history and the situation is urgent. History will judge us harshly should we fail to support or comrades-in-arms.


In solidarity,
Mike B.
Hooman Kazemian
and, Friends of the Freedom and Equality Seeking Students of Iran

For more information, please visit these websites:
Nothing Can Stop Us
Friends of the Equality and Freedom Seeking University Students of Iran (Facebook group)

No comments: