“A spark is enough”
Published in “Der Spiegel” 38/2009. September 14, 2009
Student movement activist Abed Tavancheh, 28, on countrywide protests on the occasion of next week’s opening of the acedemic term
SPIEGEL: With the re-opening of the universities, will the students become a spearhead for the opposition?
Tavancheh: I assume so – even the regime is expecting it. Already, security forces have been placed on the campuses. Friends told me that even the dormitories are crowded with spies and police forces. Nevertheless, many are going to protest.
SPIEGEL: Are you ready to risk an open confrontation with the troops of the regime?
Tavancheh: The atmosphere is emotionally charged, even a small spark will be enough to trigger an explosion. Maybe more people will lose their lives. But violence against students would provoke further protests within the population.
SPIEGEL: The students would give the regime a reason to close the universities.
Tavancheh: Apart from those who are worrying about their degrees, in Tehran alone tens of thousands of students side with the opposition. If the wave of protests rises again, most of them will care for freedom more than for their degrees.
SPIEGEL: Can you count on the support of the professors?
Tavancheh: Some professors have sold themselves to the leadership, but the others are with us. Several professors had to pay for their attitudes, they were forced into early retirement.
SPIEGEL: Revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei thinks that, above all, students of the humanities are infected with the virus of reform, he intends to have the respective faculties closely examined. Will this put the “academic freedom” at risk, as former President Mohammad Khatami warned?
Tavancheh: The purges have started four years ago, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power. What we are witnessing now is only the latest stage of Iran’s Cultural Revolution. Even now, a part of the faculty members consists of revolutionary militias. And so-called disciplinary committees ensure that educational bans pour down on the students like autumn leaves.