Saturday, October 13, 2007
Twenty Questions from President of IranAmir-Kabir University News Bulletin:
According to the official News agencies of Islamic Republic, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad planned a visit to Tehran University in the wake of commencement of the fall term. The central council of Islamic Students Union (Office To Foster Unity, OFU) representing all major universities in the country today published its open letter in anticipation of the president’s speech at the university.
The Office to Foster Unity posed 20 questions to the president. Thereafter it demanded admissions for its representatives to meet with the president during his visit to the university.
According to the Amir-Kabir University’s News Bulletin the president’s visit was supposed to take place last week. However, after OFU wrote the letter to the president and announced its readiness to participate in the event with him at the University, the visit was unexpectedly postponed.
Basically the major theme of the 20 questions put forward to the president is based on the arrest and retaliatory tortures of students of Polytechnique College, branding activist students and depriving them from pursuing their education at the university, exercising gender discrimination at the universities, reduction of the universities’ budget, harsh response of the government to the student activists and bodies who criticize the government, involuntary retirement as well as firing of the professors, hiring of those who are politically aligned with the government, egregious governmental pressure on the low income classes such as teachers and laborers, closure of the periodicals and uttermost pressure on their editors, threatening of the opposition party members, closure of the Office of the Organization of Iranian Graduates, arrest and arraignment of women activists, widespread corruption within the governmental entities, the principals behind the governmental expenditures, economic regression and a surge in the poverty within the society, exponential hike in the price of real Estate, unnecessary engagement in debates regarding the Holocaust, government policies with respect to nuclear crisis, giving a lot of monetary aide to Latin America, futile allurement of China and Russia, causing crisis in international arena by arresting the British sailors, inconsistency between deeds and declarations of the president.
The content of the Open letter by the Office of Fostering Unity to president Ahmadinejad
Although our initial salutation to you went unnoticed in a manner uncharacteristic of an Iran Moslem, we greet you again for we recognize that the only way to achieve democracy and progress is to show tolerance. Therefore, we find it necessary to curtsy the head of the government that is know for its assailant and intolerant attributes.
We are well aware of the fact that previously you did not respond to our genuflection and you did not answer our questions either. You canceled your visit to University of Tehran so that you did not have to face us and you plan to reschedule your visit for a more convenient time when you can avoid us altogether.
Mr. Ahmadinejad, once again we learned that you are planning to visit Tehran University while our request from you has not been answered (our request to permit our representative to be present at the gathering at Tehran University to pose our questions to you.
We agree with inviting the president of United States to visit our Universities and deliver speeches. As a matter of fact we concur with any dialog at the international level for the purpose of reducing the chance of a war. Nevertheless, we are puzzled that a president of a foreign country can visit our universities and engage in a dialog with students, but Iranian professors and students who are critical of the government are not allowed to express their opinion at the campuses. These aforementioned individuals have filed hundreds of requests to speak at events in the campuses of universities, but their requests have been turned down. How is it that George W. Bush can speak at Iranian universities, but not Iranian intellectuals? How is it that you set the British sailors, whom you claimed invaded our waters free, but the Iranian college students, professors, teachers, and union leaders who expressed their anti-government opinion are kept captive in jails for months?
Mr. Ahmadinejad since the responsible officials are trying to prevent us from meeting with you at Tehran University at all costs and the security team has contacted the students in order to obstruct their presence in a gathering with you, we would like to pose our questions to you right now hoping that you will be able to meet with you and hear your answers in person.
1) Three Amir Kabir University students, namely Ehsan Mansouri, Majid Tavakoli and Ahmad Ghasaban which are members of this organization, are in prison for 5 months for publishing false reports. Many believe that these false reports were published by your followers for vengeance. In their recent court appearance the issue of criticizing you was brought up. Eventhough in your visit to Columbia University you claimed there is no repercussion against those who criticize you.
2) Since the start of the ninth government, identifying activist students and then depriving those of continued education started. In current year this escalated for students of other beliefs as well as professors. Indeed under what legal, moral and human justification, students and intellectuals critical of your policies are deprived of education by agencies under your control?
3) In this years Entrance exam there sexual discrimination and a group of female students with far better grades then their male counterparts were deprived of entry to the universities or attend far away universities? Upon a direct inquiry by the students, this was confirmed by the Office of Educational Assessment confirmed. Discrimination based on sex is a clear violation of human rights with no defensible justification.
4) This year with 25% increase of students-irrespective of the yearly inflation, according to department of education the university budget was decreased, therefore we noticed decline in Student and educational amenities. Why and under what logic we should notice this decline while at the same time we notice an increase in the government budget?
5) In your two years as the president of this nation, over 550 student activists, faced disciplinary committees, 43 student organizations closed, more than 130 student newspapers banned and more than 70 members of this committee were arrested. And their crime was only criticizing the mismanagement of your government? Almost at no universities there exists an organization critical of your government. All such organizations are either closed and or in the process of closing. Indeed what do you consider freedom of speech that in your speech at Columbia University you so much bragged about it?
6) During your presidency of this country, more than 100 of our countries best professors have either been forced to retire or for legal pretexts been fired. For the first time in the history of higher education, a person with no university degree has been appointed as the head of the university and alliance to your government is the criteria for hiring the professors. At a time when according to all educational experts our universities have shortage in professors and our universities are not even ranks in the first 2000 good universities of the world we do we behave in such a manner towards the professors?
Human Rights and Freedom of Speech
7) The records of official News agencies testify that during the two years of your administration many teachers and labor workers have been jailed or have lost their jobs as a result of their involvement with Worker’s unions. We are just wondering how and when your support of the common laborers and working class will take place?
8) Newspapers and News agencies have been shut down as a result of the complaint filed against them by your government. To list a few we name ILNA New agency and Baztab Web sites that were blocked as a result of a complaint filed by ministry of Post secondary education. The Daily Newspapers Shargh and Ham Meehan were closed down and their editors now face charges. Newspapers Etemad and Etemad-Meli also have complaints filed against them by the government although they remain open. The journalists who report on conditions of human rights, the women activists, students or ethnic groups have been consistently harassed by the security forces. Various ministries within your government are putting enormous pressures on the newspaper editors not to reflect on the news. Based on the recommendation of the Council of National Security Newspapers are banned from publishing any report or comments on a wide range of issues. Iran News agencies has simply turned into the government’s News Bulletin. The manager of ISNA News Agency (Students’ News agency) is under immense pressure not to report on the illegal treatment of student activists. What is the reason for all these undue pressures? How long is this going to go on?
9) The opposition parties have faced the greatest adversity by the government since you took office 2 years ago. The headquarter of OFU has been sealed and our grievances have fallen on deaf ears. There is no legal basis for closing of our headquarter. The governmental subsidy to the political parties has been slashed. Political opposition parties can not obtain licenses for their news bulletins. While all the modern societies in the world have accepted political parties as a one of the pillars of democracy, we are wondering that how is it possible to achieve democracy without the presence of political parties? We also would like to know how is it that you support democracy in United States, but don’t wish it for Iran.
10) In addition to existence of gender discrimination at national universities, the government introduced a bill to the parliament that would clearly violate women’s rights in a marriage contract. This bill was introduced to the parliament while women activists who are striving for equal rights for women are being consistently charged with activities against homeland security and are being thrown in jail. Why does your government pose such a hostile attitude towards women in our society?
11) You ran your presidential campaign with the slogan of 1) putting the revenues from oil industry on people’s table 2) eliminating corruption and nepotism. However, surveys conducted by credible sources indicate that in the past 2 years corruption has increased within the executive branch of the regime. In fact the state has deeply plunged into decadence. People’s living conditions have also deteriorated in the past 2 years. Thus, we are anxious to find out when your campaign promises will materialize?
12) As you know the oil revenues have increased drastically over the past 2 years. Therefore, your government has enjoyed a surplus of revenues that is unprecedented in the previous administrations. We would like to ask you what measures your government has taken in order to inject this extra income into progressive national projects that would benefit our country?
13) Despite the increase in oil revenues, the economic growth has been 2 percent less than its level during the presidency of Mr. Khatami. This translates into a loss of 700,000.00 billion Rials. As the economic conditions worsen, it gets more and more difficult for ordinary Iranians to meet the ends. It seems that the result of your economic plans have been very divergent from your campaign promises.
14) Members of your own cabinet admit that as a result of the government’s wrong policies the country is facing an aberrant inflation in the housing market. Your government is actually advising home buyers not to purchase real estate in the big cities. Are you aware of the fact that housing market crisis has influenced the lives of many Iranians nowadays? How do you plan to resolve this issue?
Although we are well aware of the fact that in Islamic Republic there many entities involved in shaping the foreign policies of the government. Nevertheless, we can not discount the role of the government in constructing an effective policy that would benefit the country. Unfortunately, your imprudent comments in the international scene have cost our country a hefty price.
15) Granting that the holocaust is an undeniable fact of the World War II, why do you insist on questioning it? What do you plan to accomplish by bringing about the issue of holocaust? Is this to you the most important issue facing humanity today? Suppose your goal is to support the people of Palestine. Do you really believe that by raising doubts about holocaust you can assist Palestinians?
16) Your provocative comments made in reference to Iran’s nuclear dossier have even raised the eyebrows of individuals in your camp. We believe that your dictum in this respect is in sharp contrast with the official policies of the Islamic Republic. Do you realize that the 2 resolutions passed recently by United Nations Security Council against Iran have been the result of your mishandling of the nuclear issue?
17) Repetitive trips to Latin America and magnanimous donations to those countries are for what purpose?
18) What is the reason for allowing our country to be extorted by China and Russia? Your government has given a lot of economic incentives to these 2 countries hoping that they would back Iran in its nuclear dossier. We believe that ultimately both China and Russia will vote against Iran in the UN Security Council.
19) What was the reason behind arresting the British sailors and making a great deal of commotion about them crossing into our waters. At the end was it the threat made by the British prime minister that led to their sudden release?
20) Now the last but not the least question: In regards with your speech at Columbia University and in general all your speeches outside Iran, we have noticed that your remarks are in sharp contrast with what you say inside the country. Don’t you think that making contradicting statements does not leave any more your Iranians to back your stance on issues. We believe that your behavior is very deceptive and has caused the people to lose faith in the system.
Mr. Ahmadinejad, if you truly have answers to our questions, please allow one representative from our group to meet with you in the auditorium together with all the pre-selected attendees. We are anxious to hear the responses of the head the freest government in the world!
All will perceive the encounter of a man who challenges the world with his own fellow countrymen. Remember that history will record the way you treated the Iranian students.
Central Council of Office to Foster Unity
Translated by United Republicans of Iran