Isfahan Student Movement (8)

44 people were arrested and a list handed over to SAVAK

Mehdi Amani Yamin
Translated by Mohammad Baqer Khoshnevisan


Note: In the previous section, interview with Mohammad Ali Haji Moniri got to 3rd of December 1977 and what happened on that day. He said, “Before the noon, the guards attacked dormitory no. 10 with the shields and batons although they continued to throw stones. We were among those who were down the building, standing in front of the entrance. A lot of students were inside the building. When the guards attacked, we went inside but did not go up. We guessed we might be arrested. So we went again inside dormitory no. 9.”

And now the continuation of the interview:  


*You mean the main people?

*Yes, we went inside dormitory no. 9 and the whole 44 people were arrested inside dormitory no. 10. By the way, there were students among them who had done nothing; at worst, they had just chanted a slogan, and I am almost sure that among those 44 students, some of them might have thrown 4 stones. But all the guys who had collected stones and chanted slogans escaped and went inside dormitory no. 9. We saw that the guards suddenly attacked dorm no. 9. We gain started throwing stones and chanting slogans and opening the hot water hoses. They came forward. Now, it was just me and Ali Shayan Far. We said, “This is water …” we pulled the firefighting hoses out, connecting to hot water. When the guards wanted to attack dorm 9, we were prepared. We opened hot water on them and they couldn’t   enter dorm 9. The guys threw stones at the guards. Mehdi Hakak was also there and i remember the scene very well; I and Mehdi broke the windows. We had to throw stone from the windows. Mehdi picked up a chair, throwing toward a window and the whole window was broken. When we saw that the guards were going inside the building, we opened the hot water toward the guards. There was a water cooler inside the building. I was a sportsperson and a wrestler. I took the water cooler from the second floor and threw it down on the guards, one of them was injured and the rest escaped; but they couldn’t enter dorm 9. They had arrested 44 from dorm 10 and did not attack dorm 9 anymore. The students of dorm 9 had been deployed very well because the hoses had been connected to hot water inside all the floors; we had also stones and had thrown the water cooler down on them. They had seen the scenes and knew that the students had been defending and protecting the building from all sides. This caused the guards did not attack dorm 9 anymore.


*So, they didn’t come inside dorm 9?

*No. they didn’t come inside the dorm, but entered dorm 10. The students were beaten very much and 44 arrested, but all those guys who started the clash were inside dorm 9. Later 13 more were also arrested but none of them were among the 44. I think many damages were inflicted because the arrest of these 44. Maybe, the university authorities shared the clash. They believed that the clash might have harmed the students seriously.


* Was anyone killed?



*Do you remember exactly that nobody was killed?

*Yes, but the guards had beaten the guys seriously, and they had been injured.


* Was there any maim?

*No, but we witnessed that the guards had also been injure.


* The students had been injured more?



*Did they use batons?

*The batons had no use because we threw stones; but the arrested students were beaten very much. The photo taken from the arrested students was very interesting since I had not seen it for thirty years. Out of the 44 who were arrested, Taha Nahavandi was from Nahavand and Akbar Kermani, Vahid Omidvar and Reza Seyedin were from Mashhad all three of whom are now living. Akbar was employed in Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), became university professor and got Ph.D. scholarship. His brother was martyred in Iran-Iraq war. He is now a university professor. Akbar is an engineer. Vahid Omidvar was a religious guy who played the major role in the university’s theater in 1977. He was imprisoned, expelled from the university and is now living in Mashhad.


* One question has preoccupied me. Didn’t the guards use tear gas during the clash?

*They might have tear gases but did not use against us. They did in urban demonstrations.


* What happened after the guards left?

*When the guys were taken, we were thinking what we could do for these 44. We closed the classes. However, they were freed in the evening of that day; they were taken back to the dorm as it was getting dark. They had been annoyed. The guys had been taken to Homayounshahr police station and I think they had prayed there nakedly.


*It is said that Taha had started praying.

* Yes, I had heard that Taha had started praying. They had prayed and although it was done in the police station, it was effective.


* With this move, they had done a separation that they were religious guys…

* The mentality among military and security groups was that they were all leftists and communists and such things… most of the 44 students who had been detained in the police station had started praying. I remember that one of the guys – I think it was Akbar – had said that they were naked and it was cold; the weather is cold in December and when they had stood to pray, and Taha who was praying nakedly, I don’t know a police or someone else had covered him with a blanket. I do not remember who said this but one of the gendarmes had covered his body with a blanket.


* Of course, Taha had said this and annoyed too…

*Yes apparently Taha had been beaten very much.


*It was after this event that the students set up a group to do something for those 44 people.

*It was shaped from here; the classes had already been closed and the event had also impacts, especially there were people among those 44 people who were not informed of the events. So a kind of public sympathy was created in everyone. As a result, all agreed to close the classes. The guys came inside the campus and chanted slogans. I think some 250 people had taken part in the demonstration. I think it happened a few days after the first clash. Some had covered their faces with their jackets or things like this in order not to be identified, and many others did not.


*This figure is high in view of the population of the students.

 *They were not only left activists. There were religious activists as well as many ordinary students. The effect of the current that happened was this, “You who have a demand are treated like this. What kind of student system is this?” Many were involved in this story. Therefore, night demonstrations were held and the classes were closed.


*How the 13 people were identified?

*We do not know how they were identified.


*When did they come to you?

*I think they were identified on 5th of December.


* Was Mehdi Hakak among these 13?

*No, Mehdi Hakak was not in this list. Many students were fired after one term. These 13 students wer fired in the first term. But some 200 were fired in the second term; and Mehdi Hakak was among them.   

We had a three-quarter education system. It means that the second quarter started from 21st of December. We were fired form the very first term close to the exams. Then, the story went on in the second quarter. The subject of closing of the classes and chanting of slogans took place after the event of 18th of February in Tabriz. When the event of February 18th happened in Tabriz, the demonstrations continued daily and nightly, the classes were closed alternatively and followed by large protests and 200 students were fired.


*You mean some one third of the students were fired before March 1978?

*Yes, one third of the students were fired; they were deprived of education for one term and this was very widespread. It showed that the atmosphere was political and the proportion of the expelled students was even more than Tehran universities. I think the reason for this was that the university was isolated.


*Was it for the treatment they had?

*Yes, because the same guards were present in Shairf and Poly-Technique universities; political guys were active too. Some others were just looking for their education. From the very beginning when they entered the university, they became familiar with guards, left and religious activists. They chose their own way and there was no force and compulsion. All of them were not going to be political activists. So, the first-term students selected their own way according their own mentality. The demonstrations in Tehran could not be as widespread as Isfahan Industrial University. We took part in Tehran's demonstrations. It was not possible that more than 200 students were gathered for protests; but there were 3000 students here.


*The atmosphere was closed and security control high in Tehran …    

*Yes, the security control was high. In Tehran, only the students had been organized and the border lines were clear. But in Isfahan was not the same. There were some new comers who had no line but all of a sudden, a current had been shaped. The guards had come and clash had happened. A number of students had been arrested and this had created a unity.


*So, since there were no intellectual and political grounds in the university, a relatively widespread unity was created?

*Yes, a unity was created. A widespread current, however was shaping at the level of the community, for example January 9 in Qom and February 18 in Tabriz. Now, the atmosphere of the universities had become political. All had political lines and in my opinion, its rate in Isfahan Industrial University very higher than Tehran and other universities. There might be this analysis at that time and it was said that the Shah's regime had transferred this university to Isfahan for this reason that Aryamehr Industrial University had become a center for growing terrorists and that because it was inside the city and had routes for escaping, they were going to shut it down. At the same time, the team houses were near Tehran Industrial University. Many students of Sharif University were members of Mujahedin organization and Fadaieyan before the victory of the Islamic revolution. There were a lot of team houses in Azadi and Eskandari streets and clashes with the houses took place in the same area. Many of them were the students of this university and had lost of escape routes. This analysis was raised at that time; the university has turned into a center for growing terrorists and we don't see any student or engineer; we see guerillas. Thus, if the story is going to be ended, Tehran's Industrial University should be shut down and transferred to Isfahan and a university is built in the desert. Of course I don't know whether this was true or not, but it was backfired because instead of ten or fifteen percent, forty to fifty percent of the students turned to politics which did not exist in Tehran at all.


*How long did it take to happen?

Exactly, within three months. Such thing did not exist at that time in Tehran’s Technical College with its 40-year history. Some 20 students took part in the demonstrations held in the college. You couldn’t find a university in which 200 people gathered and chanted slogans! Therefore, more than 200 were expelled in the second quarter. Of course I was not expelled.


*You had already been expelled?

We had already been expelled but come back again. We returned to the university the same term. But we were not among those who were expelled in the second term including Mehdi Hakak and others. We were active but were not expelled and watched more carefully. I am sure they were more than 200.


*There are 11 people on the whole in the list sent by the late Mohammad Amin the dean of the university to SAVAK and the names are different with that of the 13 people who were expelled.

*Interesting… I don’t know.


*I don’t know how long it took after the arrest of 44 people and the list handed over to SAVAK until your arrest?

*Two days from 4th to 7th if December.


*So you were arrested before 20th of December.

*Yes, I was arrested on 6th or 7th of December 1978. Let me tell you the story of our detention. I was in the class and the door was open. I left the class and went to my room. I had two roommates; one was Farhad Shahabian Moghaddam who was recruited in IRGC after the victory of the revolution. He was among the leaders of the university currents during the revolution and Cultural Revolution. And the other was Farid Pezeshk.


*Farid Pezeshk was among the list sent to SAVAK.

*So what?


*Amin introduces him as a SAVAK rebel.

*Really! I did not know he has been introduced among SAVAK list; but it is interesting that I see today that Farid Pezeshk has been in the list of Mohammad Amin. Farid’s father was a member of SAVAK and I knew this. Why did I know? Because Farid Pezesh was from Mashad.


*Was he religious?

*No, he was not. I and Farzad were religious and became roommate with Farid. I knew Farid Pezeshk since high school, and got familiar with each other. Now how did I find out that his father worked for SAVAK? Because one of my uncles named Abbas Qoli Haji Moniri worked in Interior Ministry before the revolution and was governor for a while. I talked to him and knew the story. He was a governor before the revolution and had become retired before the revolution in 1974. But he was also active after retirement. He became the deputy governor of Khorasan Province and deputy custodian of Astan Qods Razavi and the head of land endowments. You know that the land endowments are the largest endowments of Astan-e Qods Razavi even in Tehran. He was the head of land endowments of Astan-e Qods during the revolution too.


To be continued….

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