Wednesday, April 9, 2008

British students elect jailed Iranian activist as honorary leader

On 2 April, the annual conference of the National Union of Students, attended by over 1,000 delegates from universities and colleges across the UK, voted overwhelmingly to elect Iranian student activist Anoosheh Azaadbar as an Honorary Vice-President.
Every year the conference elects one or more Honorary VPs, who remains in office for four years, as a symbol of solidarity with struggles for equality and freedom across the world. Last year, delegates elected jailed Tehran bus workers' leader Mansour Ossanlou.

The campaign to elect Anoosheh was run by Education Not for Sale (ENS), a socialist faction within the NUS. ENS member Darcy Leigh, a conference delegate from Edinburgh University, proposed the nomination with the following speech:

"Conference, last year we elected Mansour Ossanlou, leader of the Tehran bus workers' union, as our honorary vice president. This year, we can once again stand with workers and students in Iran by electing Anoosheh Azaadbar.

"Anoosheh is a student at Tehran University. She's one of 50 student activists arrested in Iran last December for organising protests against both a brutal and oppressive regime and the threat of imperialist war.

"Like most of those arrested, Anoosheh is a socialist - an activist in the group Freedom and Equality-Seeking Students, which seeks to link the student movement to the workers' and women's movements.

"Our sisters and brothers in Iran are faced by a regime that locks up and tortures both trade union and student activists; that executes LGBT people; that values women as 'half a man' in the eyes of the law and that persecutes religious and national minorities as well as anyone who speaks out against its crimes.
"They also face the threat of economic sanctions, bombing raids and invasion by the most powerful military machine on earth.

"Two of Anoosheh's student comrades have been killed in prison. Whilst Anoosheh and others have been released, four people remain in prison and they all face continued persecution.

"Conference, if you're serious about international solidarity, if you're serious about opposing war, if you're serious about freedom and democracy on campus and in society, elect Anoosheh Azaadbar as our honorary vice president."
Even though the conference did not have time to discuss motions on Iran, this election strengthens NUS's policy of combining opposition to war with support for workers', students', women's and other democratic movements from below in Iran. ENS will be fighting for that policy to be implemented vigorously.
For more information, please contact Sofie Buckland, an ENS member who sits on the NUS National Executive Committee, by emailing

For the manifesto and supporters' list for the campaign to elect Anoosheh, see the ENS website http://www।

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