Former Reformist President Mohammad Khatami Blasts Current Police State & Censorship of Universities

Sept 9th, 2012 - [Kaleme] The following are excerpts from Mohammad Khatami's meeting with members of the student organization Islamic Association of Tehran University.

عکس از اینترنت
When meeting with members of the student organization The Islamic Association of Tehran University at the University of Medical Sciences, former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami was highly critical of the extreme security measures that in his words have turned "universities into garrisons", expressing regret over the annual meeting of the Alumni Association being cancelled despite detailed planning and an initial agreement and approval by the university officials.
Khatami emphasized: "If a society wishes to see it's student grow and further develop, it must foster open criticism; criticism of its programs, its existing mechanisms, and in particular self criticism and criticism of society at large.  It goes without saying, that a key aspect of criticism is the ability to criticize power, for the powers that be have control over the country and its facilities and amenities and as a result must be subjected to criticism in order to avoid any wrong doing or God forbid abuse of power."
Khatami continued: "I do not believe that the decision to cancel your annual meeting was taken from above.  In reality our country's high ranking officials cannot be concerned about a legal, well established Islamic student organization holding an annual meeting. They would not prevent such a meeting from taking place and yet I see that in reality this is exactly what has happened. As you yourself have emphasized, the University officials had already agreed with the
program and yet there is a will and force that claims that "they" [the student organization] are outsiders and should therefore not exist.  Who are these individuals? Where are they? Unfortunately they are the source of such overtures in our country and they are the ones creating the notion of "insiders" versus "outsiders" and no one is stopping them.  This is concerning.  Who are these individuals who despite the fact that such policies that been announced as approved, decide to allow such things to happen? A unit responsible for the university decides to coordinate and come to an agreement and a group decide to intervene and stop the event from taking place. As if that were not enough they then declare that they felt like preventing the event from taking place. Who are these individuals and where is their infiltration base? They must be stopped!"

While reiterating that the current enforced police state that has turned universities into garrisons, the humiliation of professors and students, the use of special techniques to name certain students as "starred students", the creation of extreme restrictions on the new generation of students and in particular graduate students is inconsistent with all the ideals and principles of the Islamic Revolution and against the best interest of our country, Khatami once again emphasized his belief that the clear way out of this crisis is adherence to Iran's Constitution which in his words "is not etched in stone" and can and should be amended when and if necessary."   He added that many of the challenges and tension facing the nation will be resolved if we return to the Constitution and implement the principles outlined in our constitution such as allowing for an open political atmosphere, allowing political parties to form and act freely within the framework of our constitution so that entities such as the Islamic Association of Tehran University could gather and meet freely for their annual meeting.
According to Mohammad Khatami's website the meeting with the members of the Islamic Association of Tehran University began with an introduction by one of the students in which the association thanked Khatami for his presence and an opportunity to discuss their questions and concerns.  The students expressed their concern regarding the cancellation of their annual meeting despite the fact that the student body had followed all regulations and received an approval from university officials. The students stated that the annual meeting was to have commenced today at the Technical Faculty of Tehran University campus in the city of Rasht, but as a result of the security atmosphere and the threats made by the security forces present in the province of Gilan, university officials informed the student organization that rather than risking that attendants arriving by bus would not be allowed to enter the province and given the risk that the event would be sabotaged, it would be best not to hold the event this week. The student organization stated that given the short notice, it had not been possible to change the venue. 
While expressing their gratitude for the opportunity to meet with Khatami and to discuss their questions and concerns, the students stated their desire to better understand Khatami's position regarding the presidential elections next year, particularly since much has been published in media outlets (some true and some false) regarding Khatami's position and the position of other key reformist figures vis-a-vis the upcoming elections.  They expressed that their discussions within their student body has centered around questions such as what role the student organizations should play in the upcoming presidential elections given that the political atmosphere is no different than that of 2009 and whether discussion such matters is a mute point given the fact that the situation Messrs Mousavi and Karroubi still find themselves in has complicated matters and their minimum requirements have yet to be met. The students concluded that discussing the challenges they face such as the arrest of well known figures and companions such as Mousavi and Karroubi and the existing security atmosphere and working towards the lifting of such an atmosphere is a prerequisite for any type of favorable collaboration. Furthermore the students stated that in their opinion the student concerns and demands must first be expressed and addressed before any discussions can take place regarding the elections or any other challenges.

 by Banooye Sabz

Source: Kaleme:

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