Tehran University was completely shut down by the Islamic regime on Wednesday July 9th 2003 in an attempt to stop student protests in Tehran. Every entrance was locked up and the security police had taken over the University compound. Earlier, the Islamic regime had declared all gatherings on the "National Day of Protest" in support of student movement illegal and boldly had announced that harsh measures will be taken in cases of disobedience. On Tuesday, in a press conference, leaders of student organizations within Tehran University had appealed to the United Nations Kufi Annan for the protection of their basic human rights and had been consequently arrested by the Islamic security forces. During the press conference they had announced that there will be a peaceful sit in at Tehran University on 9th of July to pay tribute to their fellow classmates who stood for democracy and freedom in Iran and who were brutally murdered by the Islamic hooligans four years ago. The culprits were arrested but freed shortly afterwards.
Last night at about 7:00 PM, crowds of students and other citizens began gathering in the downtown areas near Tehran University. The University is a short walk from the "Revolution Square" where the 1979 Iranian revolution commenced twenty-four years ago. At 8:00 PM temperatures were in high 30's (Celsius). The Islamic dress code for women (a long robe-like overall to cover the body and a large scarf to cover the hair) was suffocating. People had come by cars; motorbikes and many had walked from all parts of the city to pay their respect to the defenders of freedom and democracy in Iran. Sidewalks, that were desolate at 10 AM, were bursting with pedestrians. They were people of all ages who had brought their children along. The security police and the University Guards were trying to keep the large area in front of the main entrance to the University clear from the crowd.
We walked slowly towards the "Revolution Square" passing the main University gates and the numerous security and military forces on their motorbikes and jeeps. It is indeed a rally but both parties, the people and the security forces, act as if it is simply a crowded evening in Tehran. A young man coming towards us is being chased by a security officer who is shouting, "why should I be ashamed?" The young man denies completely that his remark was addressing the police officer and keeps trying to walk away. His collar is in the officer's clinched fist. People skillfully move between the young man and the security officer and encourage them both to remain calm. The young man, who was finally freed, quickly disappeared in the crowd. In a number of other cases I saw people walking up to the security police who had grabbed a protestor and had prevented their arrest. "They cannot take us if we stick together" a young boy said. I myself managed to help release four people just by hovering around the arresting officers and calmly asking them to let go of the young man or woman. It is an enormously empowering experience. It was clear that the people want to minimize all contact with the security forces and the notorious Islamic Basiji. The Basiji are paid Islamic thugs, in civilian clothing, who are responsible for murder and disappearance of many since the revolution. It is safe to say that from amongst the Islamic forces that maintain the dictatorship of the Islamic regime in Iran, people hate the Basiji the most.
I could hear no chants or slogans, the situation was too intense and anyone who dared speak was in danger of being arrested. To be arrested on this day and in an illegal rally could easily lead to total disappearance of the individual. Many are convinced such disappearances could be followed by death in an unknown part of the town by Islamic hooligans.
In the Revolution Square the "anti riot police" was mobilized in three groups of 30 to 50 to brake up standing crowds. A man who was speaking loudly and passionately was very conspicuous. He was leaning on a walker; sweet had covered his forehead and his nervous condition kept his entire body twitching recklessly. "Our sons are addicts and our daughters are prostitutes, this is not what I say it is what these traitors themselves publish in their newspapers." "How can I keep quiet at a time like this?" I smiled at him and the police dispersed us (the police tolerates physically handicapped who may be veterans of the Iraq war and enjoy great respect amongst the Islamic groups). We later ran into the same man on the same corner of the square he had not gone far in almost 3 hours. He had gotten into a conflict with a Basiji who was taking him away. People had stopped to diffuse the situation; he recognized my face and smiled. I walked up to him and offered him a cup of water I had gotten from a juice bar on the way. I told him "It is easy to dehydrate in a hot night like this. Please drink some!" He took the water with gratitude. The Basiji, in civilian clothing, turned to me and said "he would get trampled on, I want to take him to a safe place". Then, as if he regretted having even addressed me, the Basiji said, why don't you offer me some water? A young man in the crowd had reached his hand out to me with an ice-cold cup of water to replace the one I had given to the man with the walker. I took the cup and handed it to the man in the civilian clothing. "Enjoy the refreshing cool of the water", I said. It was a melancholy moment; when people who are tangled up in a web of injustice and violence try desperately to find a way out of the vicious cycle. The man in the civilian clothing was already looking more and more like the rest of us.