Ladies and gentlemen,
My name is Bahareh Hedayat, from “Daftar Tahkim Vahdad” in Iran. I so
much wanted to be here with you but in a country where communication
with “the foreigners” or even sending an email to them may have grave
consequences, my leaving Iran at this time could have been interpreted
as spying or such similar things.
My dear friends – friends who live in free countries! You are hearing
my voice from Iran – a country where its president cannot stop lying
when he’s being interviewed by the press. He is even brazen enough to
call Iran “the freest country in the world”. He claims to be a “global
manager”; in spite of the political despotism and economic meltdown
we’re witnessing in the country.
I am Iranian – from a country with three thousand years of
civilization. In the past one hundred years we’ve been striving for
freedom and democracy in Iran. Iran has witnessed two revolutions but
has not achieved what it’s been striving for. In my country, student
movements have always played a significant role in realizing the
country’s historical goals – that is, freedom and justice. Due to the
reason that political factions and NGOs do not enjoy political
independent and/or free governing principles, or are under great
pressure, the role the student movements may play is life-changing.
My dear European student friends, especially those coming from western
European countries! You have only heard the words dictatorship,
despotism or suppression. But we in Iran feel it with our body and
soul every day. Here people are put into jail for the simplest act of
reporting what they have seen. We have seen the films of student
protesting in France, Italy, Greece, and just recently in Germany. But
we believe that if just one tenth of what had been going on there
would be deployed here, grave consequences like long-term solitary
confinements, torture, heavy sentences, and banishment from education
can follow for us here. We have seen many examples of this. In 2002 a
university faculty was sentenced to death for criticizing religious
superstitions. The students, with their widespread and peaceful
protests on the campus, could force the government to suspend the
verdict. In that protest, we broke no glasses; set no cars on fire;
and, blocked no roads – we just cancelled a day of our classes. We
just organized a number of protests on the campus. However, a short
while after this, the organizers of these calm and peaceful protests
were arrested and sentenced to 5 years in prison.
Last year, when a female student was harassed by a university
administrator, the people who broke the news of this act suffered
Entering a college in Iran comes about after participating in a highly
competitive and arduous entrance examination. It is some years that
the females have been more successful that the males in this exam and
have actually comprised 60% of the admitted population. But the
government is attempting to create obstacles for the education of the
females and to therefore filter their presence in this arena. This has
in fact resulted in demolished the dreams of many females who wish to
study their favored degrees at the university.
What the students are asking for are in fact what all Iranians are
asking for. We are asking for freedom of speech and academic freedom.
We want independent teachers to teach at the universities. We want
everybody to express his or her ideas freely – and not be prosecuted
or punished after expressing them. We want the economic and political
dealing of the Iranian government to be monitored so that people would
understand how much of the natural resources and the economy of the
country are being sacrificed for by Mr. Ahmadinejad’s tension-creating
policies and nuclear ambitions. We want the people’s private spaces to
be respected. We want the systematic elimination of the intellectuals
and dissidents to stop. We want the gender discrimination to stop at
the university and the society. We want the elections not to be used
only for preserving the international respect of the rulers. We want
the candidates to be nominated and safely elected. We want the health
of elections to be guaranteed.
My dear friends! We had elections in June 2009. Something akin to a
coup happened after this elections – masterminded by the government
and its forces. Member of the Green Movement – their numbers in
millions – participated in a silent demonstrations to protest the
results of the elections. But the armed forces and the militia
personnel set fire on the people. They forced those they have detained
to confess against themselves. In the Kahrizak prison, several people
– some being students – lost their lives under the regime’s severe
physical abuses. We believe that, the torture and physical abuse that
occurred in Kahrizak must also be addressed by the international
society – similar to what they did after the U.S. atrocities were
discovered in Gitmo and Abu Ghoreib prisons. Since what happened in
Kahrizak was nothing less than what happened in Gitmo and Abu Ghoreib.
Now tell me: Are you following the news of the student movement in
Iran? Do you know how much your support could be helpful in stopping
Mr. Ahmadinejad’s coup government in his aggressive suppressions?
Please do not think that “Iranian students” are those who burn other
country’s flags in front of their embassies, and call names to those
country’s leaders. These people are connected to a military
organization. They enjoy the financial and propaganda support of the
government and/or that military organization. We hold them responsible
for suppressing the student protesters.
What you may think of a student protest and the police engaging with
it in your own country is totally dissimilar to what we witness here.
Here, organizing a protest means being beaten; being arrested; being
disrespected; being tortured for confessing to false things; being in
solitary confinement; being expelled from the university. It means
never leaving the country, and being called the helper of the enemy
which can bring you a sentence of 3 or 4 or 5 years …
In my country, the government sensors news resources. Even it will
publish fake ones if it finds it beneficial to itself. The government
is filtering the Humanities based on a religious discipline … Here
“freedom” only exists for those who are the friends of the government.
Here is an Islamic Republic. This is the governing principle.
My dear friend! Won’t expanding democracy and the urge to live in a
world with less violence push you to support the Iranian student
movement? Turing a blind eye to the suppression of the Iranian student
movement is, in a way, supporting the Iranian coup regime’s actions.
This is indeed unbelievable for an Iranian who admires the western
country’s respect for human rights and democracy. Is human rights
important to you? Do you wish to reduce violence? Do you wish the
torch of freedom to continue burning in another part of this big
world? If yes, please don’t be silent in front of these violence,
suppression and crimes …
I wish you a productive meeting.
December 7, 2009
Translated by, Negr Ir
[...] ”Bahare Hedayat’s extraordinary courage and her persistent defense of students’ right to freedom of speech and expression are the reasons we are nominating her for the Student Peace Prize 2011”, says Ligia Deca, Chairperson of the European Students’ Union. [...]