Created: Friday, 15 May 2009 08:49
Written by Bob Shepherd & Louis BREHONY
FRFI 174 August / September 2003
During a recent trip to Tehran, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw continued to ratchet up imperialist pressure on the Iranian regime, calling on it to agree by September to sign the ‘additional protocol’ demanded by the June meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This would give inspectors from the IAEA greater rights to conduct snap inspections of so-called suspect sites. Failure to meet this deadline would, according to Straw, jeopardise a European Union trade and co-operation agreement currently being negotiated. His visit came shortly after widespread student protests had taken place against the regime in Iran.
The student demonstrations had begun on 10 June at Tehran University in opposition to the privatisation of the university system but had quickly taken on an anti-regime character. The protests were militant, violently confronting the forces of the state, the police and Hezbollah (religious militia of the government) and spreading to at least eight other major cities. Slogans on the demonstrations included ‘Down with the Islamic Republic of Iran’, ‘Death to Khamenei’ (the main religious leader within Iran), ‘Death to Khatami’ (the reformist President) and ‘Death to Rafsanjani’ (the hard-line ex-president of Iran). All accounts of the protests point to the fact that many others joined the students on the streets. The Tehran Chief of Police told the media that of the 520 protesters arrested by 22 June, ‘only ten of them are students, the rest are ruffians’! Student leaders said though that more than half of those in custody were students, and 18 of them were women.
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