Maryam Rajavi’s message for the new academic year 2023-2024
The first lesson is the lesson of freedom and paying the price of freedom
Dignified students, teachers, and professors,
The arisen generation for knowledge and freedom!
Today, we commemorate the indelible memory of the students who lost their lives in the 2022-2023 and the 2019 uprisings or endured torture in Khamenei’s prisons. We extend our warmest salutations to the passionate generation that has held aloft the flag of resistance and sacrifice over the past four decades by the generation of young members and supporters of the PMOI.
In this academic year of 2023, as in the years past, the foremost lesson remains the lesson of freedom and paying the cost associated with it. This year, the rebellious students from universities and high schools have written a new chapter in the destiny of Iran and Iranians, cleansing its pages with their blood. A book once tarnished by the deceptive narratives and words of despair penned by autocrats and reactionaries. Today, however, the brave youth of Iran have inscribed within its pages the crimson words of freedom, revolution, and liberation from tyranny, oppression, and exploitation.
Institutionalized oppression and control against students
Last year, Iranian students rose up and expanded the nationwide movement in no less than 204 universities and 1,776 schools.
The sheer scale of participation of so many high school and university students in the uprisings sent shockwaves through the foundations of the decadent Velayat-e Faqih religious dictatorship.
The regime’s well-established apparatus of repression and control within universities, coupled with the disproportionate allocation of university admissions to Basij-affiliated individuals and their families, as well as other extensive, costly, and long-term initiatives aimed at silencing student voices within educational institutions, were suddenly rendered ineffective.
In a confidential letter to the regime’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) last February, Ebrahim Raisi acknowledged that the PMOI and other opponents have far-reaching influence in the country’s universities. He blamed the Council and urged it to be more proactive in the face of numerous perceived threats.
In December, in response to the student protests in high schools and universities that rocked the regime’s oppressive foundations, the authorities hastily issued a new disciplinary code, encompassing 400 articles, clauses, and notes to intensify control and intimidation of students.
Consequently, many university students were arrested, expelled, and suspended, while the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Intelligence Ministry relentlessly pursued those young individuals whom they suspected to be the leaders of these uprisings.
Yet, the revolutionary uprisings have evolved into citadels of education and training for the leaders and trailblazers of these movements, especially among the enlightened and combatant young women.
Universities, the centers of learning for countless generations of PMOI and combatants who proved their sincerity and purity in the massacres of the 1980s and the 1988 massacre, neither will be silenced nor will ever withdraw from the battle to overthrow the regime.
The vanguard role of young women in universities and high schools
The remarkable role undertaken by young women at the forefront of uprisings in schools and universities, which inspired the world, has evolved into a source of consternation and ceaseless apprehension for Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guards. Simultaneously, these young women have showcased the promising potential of an uprising brimming with dynamism and growth, owing to their pioneering presence. Their presence has propelled the uprisings towards the regime’s ultimate downfall and the profound transformation of societal dynamics.
This is precisely why the mullahs have not relented even for a day or an hour in their efforts to stifle dissent in universities, high schools, and among our younger generation. Their strategies include the systematic fabrication of charges against students and the expulsion of university professors under the guise of “purification.” However, this so-called ‘purification,’ which is among the regime’s final schemes, indicates a profound reality: society is moving towards cleansing Iran from the entirety of the regime.
The Path Forward: Revolution and Freedom
Today, Iranian youth are driven to protest, rise against, and overthrow the regime not only due to the stifling of their freedoms but also because of the deprivation they face, alongside their professors and teachers.
Their motivation is fueled by a deep-seated outrage at the plight of approximately seven million child laborers, coerced to toil under the oppressive grasp of this predatory regime. They are incensed by the regime’s destructive policies, which have left millions of children and teenagers without access to education. Their fury is directed towards the dire circumstances in which young children are forced to study—under the scorching sun, amidst makeshift structures of straw and mats, often sitting on tin cans. Additionally, they vehemently object to the distressing living conditions that have driven teachers and professors into the depths of poverty and destitution.
Young people fed up with this situation, cry out, “(Enough with) poverty, corruption, and high prices, we are going to overthrow (the regime).” It means that a vast army of millions of impoverished, yet enlightened and resolute young individuals, have found their path—the path of revolution and freedom.
This path leads them to the Resistance Units and the formidable army of Iranian people’s freedom. This is a path that is destined to succeed and achieve victory, owing to the high price already paid in blood.
Long live the students, teachers, and professors of Iran
The democratic revolution of the people of Iran will triumph