An interview with Mohammadali Hajimoniri

Isfahan Student’s Movement (3)

Mehdi Amani Yamin
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


  • Were you satisfied with the situation?

I’d like to say that we paid attention less about these issues when we were high school, and we were not involved in political climate, and everything seemed fine. In high school, all propaganda was in favor of governance system and monarchical system. When we were in the Mashed city, Shah (king) usually came there once a year to visit us, and we were led to side of street to cheer and clap hands, and it was our only political activity during high school times that we have been taught.

Yes, but in the common way. Of course I’m speaking about my school time just. There were very few teachers who would be able to speak a little about social and political issues. Mostly no body spoke about social issues. As far as I remember, there were only few teachers who would like to speak about social and sometimes political issues, and attended in such discussion during the six years of high school times.


  • You have already mentioned an instance in this issue.

Yes. We had an English teacher and I do not know someone else instead of him. Also we had a chemistry teacher in the last years of high school. He was an honest man, I do not he is alive or not, but if he is died, God rest his soul. He spoke about social issues recklessly. As I remember, he became the head of high school.

The English test was performing before the Revolution, and those who would like to be sent abroad for more education, they should pass the test. I remember that the test also performed even after the revolution. By the way, the test day was on Farvardin (April) between fifteen and twenty. It depended on the when the first Friday of Farvardin after the holidays was. The Test was done among high school graduate student to send them to abroad.

They should be tested and received a language test score. If they were accepted in the test, they would be applied at abroad universities instead of Iranian universities. It caused that Ministry of Science would pay some money to them if they were able to accept the enough score. Admitted students went to abroad, but most of the guys, who wanted go to abroad, were usually of wealthy families, and they should be able to pay the life expenses in abroad. At the time, Ministry of Science gave 1000 dollar them. Some amount of it would be taken by Ministry of Science, and also it helped some money to other and also took from other else. The 1,000 $ was seven thousand Tuman (Iranian currency) at the time, and it was counted as lot of money. My father was an employee for thirty years. I do not know, his revenue was mostly six or seven thousand Tuman. It was totally six thousand Tuman with all the benefits, not just salary, which he received. So I could not say to my farther that I need seven thousand dollars to go abroad. As a result, student who went to abroad had good financial conditions. I remember, Mr. Khabbaz zadeh taught Orbital with a method that I still remember after all these years; the orbits of S and P… so forth. I still remember that the question related to Orbit issue has one score in final exams and, it was complex and difficult question. Almost, no one liked it, and all students were not able to answer this question, and did not tend to take that one score. So student who liked to achieve full score, usually tried to answer this question. Mostly, we got to talk about this issue in the end of Azar (December) and same time we got to orbits lesson in chemistry. When he wanted to teach, said that: “I don’t teach the orbit lesson, and I will teach it again on Farvardin 16th (April) when the rich students have been sent for testing. This one score is for those who are trying to learn, and want to be educated here”. He has really done it.

He usually used words that caused thinking for students. He means that you should think who are rich students? And who are trying? Why didn’t he give the one score them? And he said: “this one score is not right for them.”


  • Movements and events of the year 1356 (1977-78):

Let’s get the heart of the matter. There were two movements at the university in Aban 1356: trade movement and political activist movement. The Political activist movement was formed by students’ relations. It means now we are student of university and are no student of high school that we were always being monitored, and being kept in the class, and we feared to be expelled, and each day, ask our father and … so this works didn’t effect on us.


  • Had your Sense of independence grown more?

Yes. Students was 18, and they were educating in independent and major field where was not comparable with high school, and in addition, as I mentioned that they would get to know with academia environment through the relatives, older brothers and cousins. Little by little, we found that we are also student and activist. Now, it is not clear for us how the social and political activist act. The issues of social and political activity were formed in our mind. So, since the Month of Aban, we saw political declarations on the walls and doors. The students had secretly written and stuck them on the walls. When we were going to go outside of our room, gradually we would see the declarations on the walls and doors of halls and inside of apartment. First thing in the morning, when we went outside, we could see the declarations that have been stuck on the walls and doors, of course these declarations would always be stripped.


  • When did you see the first declaration at the university?

I can’t remember exactly, but I remember that range of time. Student protests were conducted on Azar 16th (December) that guard came to the University. I mean that the declarations have not been started earlier week then this date. Maybe, it was more than a month that I personally had seen the declarations on the walls. So it was started on month of Azar (December), and also declarations were started to stick on the walls in early of the month of Aban (November).


  • What were the message and the content of these declarations?

These are two groups: one set of declarations were influenced by leftist thoughts that stuck on the walls. See, their content was to condemn some of the issues that could be even inside the university. For example, charging some of ideas and individuals as “they are the SAVAK and dependent on the Shah's regime and…”until they brought us to the desert to be far from society and city, and are isolated.” In the declarations, some of the trade demands have been also mentioned that I got separated these two demands. Some part of demands were certainly trade ones, such as problems that existed in the foods, classrooms or dormitories, or problems in the services that annoyed the students. Latter, some students announced that we wanted go back to our main university, i.e. Tehran University of Technology. “Close it!” they said, “We want to study in our University of Technology. It should be ready, and then you can accept the students.” I think the demand was kind of trade demand, and also was a political line. Even if it was a matter related to university, the student would raise this issue again, and put it in political direction. For example, If they referred to head of university and said their demand, and s/he didn’t pay attention to them, or he said that it was a policy from Ministry of science and it was not under the authorities of chancellor, and he wasn’t able to notice or change it, or he couldn’t close the university and sent the students to Tehran, and such as these problems that the demands of student weren’t considered, the student would write and stick the declarations on the wall that: “Mr. Amin, the head of university, is SAVAK member, and we are brought here to be isolated” . The text of the declaration was changing into political issues, and the side that just raised trade demands. Often, it was tending from trade issues towards political issues, but obviously there were two movements.


  • What was the text of declarations about?

There were two lines in the content of declarations. One had leftist tendency, that as I remember, the words “alliance - militant – victory” was usually written under the declarations. Some of them had religious tendency that were started by “in the name of God” and “in the name of Allah Qasem Al-jabarin”, or such as these phrases. When the declaration was started by “in the name of God”, it would be clear that it had religious tendency. Little by little, students knew these two movements. The students, who were not political activist, had some tendency on both sides. Some of the students were really active, and spent times to do it, and were willing to pay cost that I called also them as political activist. There were also some of the students who weren’t involved in the political issues. There were also such degrees of orientation. Since early in the month of Aban, these two movements were formed: trade movement and political movement.



A pure experience of social integration


  • As you said, one of the ways to disseminate the information and news and relation between the universities was through the relatives and friends outside the university, and another way was through the declarations and announcements. We want to know what the first event to start of movements and its spark was and what day is it happened in Aban 1356?


It was started in the month of Aban, but I don’t remember exactly its day. However I remember that one night the students protested in the courtyard of dormitory. I think, it was first public movement that was happened after Reflection of declarations. It was a protest that was held on the campus of dormitories at night. The students, who were in the protest, covered their faces to keep themselves from compromise. Interestingly, when it began, many students came there. Not all, but many of the students, who were in the dormitory, participated in the protest. A lot of student covered their faces and participated in the protest, and interestingly I do not know whether the leftists’ student protested or religious ones. But the interesting thing was that slogans of both groups were shouting. Because all students participated in protest, they shouted out both leftist slogans and religious slogans. The student said together these slogans and then they weren’t separated at that night. They said "Allah Akbar" (God is great), and also “alliance - militant – victory”. It was interesting for me, that night I did not think about it, but I thought latter that how “alliance” it was.


  • Of course, did you think about it after year 1357?

Yes, I was exactly thinking about it after decade 50s, I mean after some years of that days.

Today, I interpret that time and events as “convergent communities” and “divergent communities” for my present friends. What are convergent and divergent communities? Convergent community is a society that has found the commonalities, and it will find the pervasive interests, and around the interests, all people of society will be tended together, and it causes the convergent. These societies is always moving towards growth and democracy and take steps towards progress, and take steps towards stronger national alliance and the global fight for national interests. Another is divergent community that people gradually go away from comprehensive interests, and get close to individual and group interests, and even in individual interests will be comprehensive. Such community is moving toward the divergence. In this regard, the example that I said to my friend, was our society. I we look at the society events, we have arrived here from the year 1357. It is due to the issue of convergence and divergence. Protests of students were example about what movement existed there. There were two quite distinct movements of thought, a religious and leftist movement there. When they shout out the social slogans, both groups will feel that are living in one society, and problems are shared between them, and when they look at the problems, they will feel that can come and stay with together and shout out the slogans, and repeat their slogans for other, and increase the slogans and their sound by help each other. But when they were separated from each other, the divergent community would be created, and gradually we got here where we are today. Are we a united community? I have cited this example to my friend, that many of our friends were martyr for the war that it resulted from alliance, the national alliance that existed after year 57, but somewhat was offended and disturbed for some reasons in year 59.

I mean to say national Alliance, is the unity of all sections of the nation. During the events of year 1357 and events of revolution, the alliance was seen and society was united. For example, in the events of Shahrivar (September) days of year 1357 (1978) and events of Shohada Square where I was there, I was along with a friend, who was one of the students that has been shot. We were together on Shahrivar 17th. I was not shot, but they were. I saw the alliance there. I remember exactly the events of Shahrivar 16th.

In Tehran, There was a protest with one million people in there that it was happened for first time. I was along with a friend and I could not believe it for first time. We were in front of the crowd. I came to the sidewalk and said: “Mohammad! Come and stay here, and see how the crowd is there”. We could not believe it. We were staying in that sidewalk of Azadi Street and Alexander Crossroad to see the population when they wanted to pass. There were mostly hundred thousand or million people who shout out the slogan; “tomorrow, 8 o'clock in the morning, Shohada Square”. At that night, there was a curfew imposed, and people were shot in the Shohada Square tomorrow morning.

We were in front of line, beside Hadi Ghafari and kazem Behnam. We were ahead of people. It is an alliance as I mentioned. I mean that no one knows who religious person is and who leftist person is and so forth. All were seeking for a demand: “tomorrow, 8 o'clock in the morning …” it was not that the religious persons stayed ahead or leftists stayed back. All persons were together. Some separations were created during these events and movement of revolution in the year 1357, and slogan became pervasive again after war, and all people banded together as before and went to war, and so were many of leftist, and perhaps became martyr. Many of students, who have organizational relation to Massoud Rajavi in the year 1359 (1980), went to war and became martyr. We could see that alliance again, but the movement tended to divergence community. This is a detailed discussion.

If we look at the year 1356 (1977-78), I remember that there were comprehensive slogans and pervasive interests, and no one seek to separate interest and line and boarder, so there was no the separation in the Isfahan University of Technology. The important point is that for this movement it could be formed. If the separation existed in early days, essentially there would not be formed any movement. But, how many people were we? Both religious and leftist students, how many people were we? If the separations existed there, and if the differences were distributed among students movement, and if many of them were not political activists, there would nothing to be formed. How many people could be along with a10 members group? How many people could be along with a 20 members group? Naturally, nobody could be. When they caused to differences among their student, obviously it were getting them nowhere.

There was not really such a climate. I think there were also other senior students at university; the fact that. There were lines, what I found it later when I came to Tehran, that event of this university was different with our environment because of senior students who were there. Because senior students were on clearer religious and leftist borders, and in some cases they were working together, and had some classifications. But we have not such classifications and differences at Isfahan University of Technology. I think, as I thought about it, I we had such differences, perhaps it would not exist any political, student and social activity or movement. But we have not such classifications and differences in there. I think the distinction between the start of student activities at universities of Isfahan in year 1356 (1977-78) with other university was that there was not any classifications between political and social activists, both leftist and religious activists. There wasn’t any border between them, but gradually it was created. In early days, there were not any classifications at all. However some people maybe want to say that the classifications and differences have been created exactly after revolution of year 57 (77-78). But I, as someone who knew the events at the beginning, say that there was no clear boundary and classifications, and alliance could be felt obviously.

To be continued…

Isfahan Student’s Movement (1)

Isfahan Student’s Movement (2)

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