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Pro-Democracy Opposition Since 1979

Students' Demands From Presidential Candidates 2009

Office for Fostering Unity (OFU)/ABF translation
Abdorrahman Borumand Foundation
May 2, 2009
Statement

[Ellipses as published throughout]

Statement by the Office for Fostering Unity (OFU) outlining student demands from presidential candidates

Friday 11 Ordibeshesht 1388 [2 May 2009]

The central council of the OFU has issued a statement outlining student demands from the presidential candidates. The members of the student group declared that their decision on the forthcoming election depended on the response of the presidential candidates to their demands. They would make their decisions on the forthcoming elections after reviewing the candidates' responses, plans and their feasibility.

In addition to publishing these demands, the OFU central council dedicated them to their imprisoned political affairs secretary, Abbas Hakimzadeh, and other students who are currently held in prison.

The demands of the OFU from the 10th presidential candidates

The preliminary proposal and general headings of the OFU demands concerning the 10th presidential elections were published in the fourth analytical supplement of the [OFU] association in Esfand 1387 [March 2009]. What follows is the association's finalized proposal on the minimum demands from the reformist presidential candidates standing in the 10th presidential elections. The proposal has been drawn up with the assistance of the Islamic associations affiliated to the OFU and the members of its elections committee and political unit. The association's demands, which have been categorized in two levels, firstly, outlining university demands and, secondly, highlighting the student movement's mission and major socio-political demands, are as follows:

1. University demands

1-1. University independence and academic freedoms.

1-1-1. The right to education

1-1-1-1. Total removal of gender quotas and preferential selection of locally based students for the university entrance exams, and university admission based on academic competency.

2-1-1-1. Realization of the rights of students barred [from continuing their education] for political and ideological reasons, and a review of all disciplinary rulings of the past four years in a bid to recover the rights of students barred from education.

3-1-1-1. A review of the state of all students barred under various pretexts from further education at higher academic levels (starred students), and adoption of measures to facilitate their return to university to resume their studies.

4-1-1-1. Formulation of laws to block attempts to bar students from education or further education for political and ideological reasons.

5-1-1-1. Removal of student admission quotas given to various organs, such as the Martyrs Foundation, the Devotees of the Revolution, and Basij.

2-1-1. Freedom of student publications and associations.

1-2-1-1. A review of the state of student associations whose activities have been barred in the recent years; freedom for dissident students or students with secular or other leanings or ideologies (including ethnic or women's groups) to form associations; giving back Islamic associations to their real activists based on the general votes and opinions of students of every university; the government's official recognition of the real OFU, based on the votes and opinions of students' Islamic associations of nationwide universities.

2-2-1-1. Serious amendment and review of disciplinary regulations, [student] associations, societies, student publications and ... with input from student activists from various intellectual spectrums (representatives of student associations) and university lecturers.

3-2-1-1- Freedom and organizational immunity for student societies and associations with various ideologies to hold gathering, open platforms and various programs

4-2-1-1. Homogeneous treatment of all student associations and societies in terms of budget and facilities allocation, in the first stage, and endorsement of laws toward autonomy of associations, at the next.

3-1-1. The right to teach and research.

1-3-1-1. Endorsement and amendment of regulations to halt the cultural revolution, which have been in force for the past four years.

Academies have accepted and recognized standards. There must be freedom to express any kind of ideas and thoughts in the scientific and academic sphere, in addition to freedom to criticize and debate them. Moreover, all lecturers, irrespective of their [political] leanings, should be able to teach because of their academic capabilities. Any preferential or ideological monopolization by an academy is wrong.

2-3-1-1. A review of the position of all lecturers who, in the past four years, have been forced to retire, dismissed or banned from teaching at universities, under various pretexts; their reinstatement and as appointment of lecturers purely on the basis of academic competence.

3-3-1-1. A review of the standards employed for selection of lecturers, with emphasis on academic competence.

4-3-1-1. Freedom for lecturers to express their opinions and viewpoints, and their immunity from being pursued by organs outside the university

5-3-1-1. An end to the dismissal or early retirement of lecturers and reinstatement of secular-thinking lecturers expelled in the past three decades.

6-3-1-1. Lecturers and students should enjoy total freedom to choose their research and study topics, particularly in the sphere of human sciences (in the past four years, in particular, there have been restrictions on the choices of topics for masters or doctorate level thesis).

1-4-1. Managerial and administrative structure of universities.

1-4-1-1. A move toward universities' economic independence and autonomy; formulation of laws and provision of facilities to promote interaction between the universities and private sector.

2-4-1-1. Election of university chancellors and faculty heads based on the votes and opinions of a council made up of university lecturers, students and staff.

3-4-1-1. A move toward removal of nationwide university entrance exams, and independence of universities in terms of students' admission.

4-4-1-1. An end to intervention by the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution in the compilation of laws for universities, and allowing universities to make independent decisions.

5-4-1-1. Dissolution of universities' disciplinary committees and reform of their security structures, based on non-intervention by organs outside the university, and delegation of administration of all affairs to university officials.

5-1-1. Women's demands in universities.

1-5-1-1. (Emphatic) Total removal of gender quotas and preferential selection of locally based students for the university entrance exams.

2-5-1-1. Terminate projects aimed at enforcing gender separation in the university campus, and segregation in the lecture halls and on student transport buses.

3-5-1-1. Formulation of laws and procedures for dealing with individuals who harass female students (regulations to ensure that we no longer witness violation of the rights of female students, and other incidents witnessed on a daily basis, which reached a critical point in Zanjan in Khordad 1387 [June 2008]).

4-5-1-1. Termination of regulations concerning unconventional dress code at university campuses and dormitories, and introduction of regulations aimed at respecting the dignity of female students (In many university dormitories, such as the universities of Chamran, Shiraz, Ahvaz ... female students are banned from wearing bright-coloured clothing and tunics).

5-5-1-1. Termination of any plans and projects that give female students shorter academic terms than their male counterparts.

6-5-1-1. Formulation of laws and regulations to improve female students' dormitories, to make them compatible with the dignity of women and ensure that they are no longer treated offensively at these dormitories by means such as, arbitrary supervision to monitor their restricted hours of return to dormitories and their evening presence and absence, banning the use of shawls and makeup in the dormitories, or contacting their relatives to impose pressure on and intimidate them, and numerous similar examples.

7-5-1-1. The Science Ministry must draw up a plan aimed at appointing women to suitable positions at universities and facilitating their admission to academic boards (to date, with the exception of Al-Zahra University whose chancellor is a woman, there are no other female university chancellors).

8-5-1-1. Reintroduction of Women's Studies subject at the graduate level based on the international syllabus, and termination of any projects that block gender studies at universities, particularly in the area of human and social sciences.

9-5-1-1. Inclusion of subjects and course studies on gender equality at various university academic levels.

2-1. Guild, welfare, training and research - related demands

1-2-1. Guilds, welfare.

1-1-2-1. Reduction in the number of students admitted to universities, in a bid to improve qualitative standards.

The significant increase in the universities' capacities in the recent years has led to a considerable decline in the quality of the services offered by universities in matters related to guilds and welfare.

2-1-2-1. Termination of the prevailing security measures at universities, such as removal of the barrier gates and security cameras installed throughout the university.

3-1-2-1. To increase recreational and cultural programs, including camps, various ceremonies and events.

4-1-2-1. Improvement in the quality of food served at universities, the condition of dormitories, which are in a very bad state at universities throughout the country; moreover, the quality of the food served at universities is extremely poor, which has often provoked strong protests from students. It is imperative that the qualities of these services are improved.

2-2-1. Research, training.

1-2-2-1. To increase universities' research budget, including allocation of special financial resources to universities research departments, and a rise in the number of research facilities.

2-2-2-1. (Emphatic) Reduction in the number of students admitted to universities, in a bid to improve qualitative standards.

The significant increase in the universities' capacities in the recent years has led to a considerable decline in the quality of the services offered by universities in matters related to guilds and welfare.

3-2-2-1. To update the country's general educational system, and employ the latest training technologies.

3-2-2-1. Change scholarship laws and regulations, including the conditions for studying abroad.

4-2-2-1. Revision of the general core curriculum of universities, as endorsed by the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, owing to their ineffectiveness uselessness in specialist subjects.

In the event of amendments to the general curriculum, duration of undergraduate courses could be reduced to three years.

5-2-2-1. To raise the capacity and standards of university libraries and student internet websites.

2. Major socio-political demands.

1-2. Social movements.

1-1-2. Women.

1-1-1-2. To deal with the legal demands of the women's movement by submitting the relevant bills in that regard to the Majles and taking steps to abolish discriminatory laws against women.

2-1-1-2. Formulation of a plan for employment of women, and adoption of measures by the Employment and Social Affairs Ministry to facilitate their entry into the job market; formulation of plans by planning organizations to ensure that women's capabilities are utilized in various spheres.

3-1-1-2. To pursue attempts to make Iran sign on to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (the convention had been approved by the sixth Majles, but rejected by the Guardian Council, and referred to the Expediency Council. The next president must pursue this matter)

4-1-1-2 .Amendment of the discriminatory laws against women who are the sole caretakers in their households (such as law on the guardianship of the child, as well as laws on salaries), and introduction of regulations which give women who head households priority in the area of employment.

5-1-1-2. To pursue the rights of women homemakers and conduct research toward introducing legislation aimed at the realization of these women's constantly neglected rights.

It is not possible to highlight any particular demands of these homemakers before first conducting qualitative research. However, issues such as insurance for homemakers, fixing a salary for housework, or dividing the man's wealth following divorce could be reviewed. What is clear, however, is that these women have always been treated unjustly, and due to their silence, their voices and demands have never been heard.

6-1-1-2. To abolish plans that allow the Law-Enforcement Force to encounter women over their clothing.

7-1-1-2. To abolish plans that cause gender segregation in public places.

2-1-2. Workers.

1-2-1-2. Endorsement of laws based on rights of workers' syndicates and independent guild organizations, and emphasis on the establishment of such organizations based on the votes of the workers; also the need for government officials to pay attention to these guilds' demands in their related decision-makings.

2-2-1-2. Amendment of the Employment Act and annulment of anti-employee legislation; formulation of legislation by a committee comprising representatives from the government, employers, and workers, and inclusion of workshops that employ under 10 staff in the Employment Act.

3-2-1-2. To release worker activists and halt the prosecution and harassment of the workforce, and recognize the right to protest for the realization of one's rights.

4-2-1-2. Introduction of laws aimed at reforming the privatization process, such as handover of production units, in the context of workers cooperatives, to workers from the same units, provided the workers from these units embark on forming cooperatives.

3-1-2. Teachers.

1-3-1-2. Endorsement of laws that protect the rights of teachers' syndicates and independent guild organizations, and emphasis on the establishment of such organizations based on the votes of the teachers; moreover, government officials must pay attention to the demands of these guilds in their related decision-makings.

2-3-1-2. To protect workers' security, in the context of freedom of expression and freedom after free expression; and lifting of security pressure on guild activists.

3-3-1-2. Preparation and publication of course books through consultations with university lecturers and teachers, based on the latest science, free from ideology, and in keeping with international standards.

4-3-1-2. Endorsement of regulations for gradual recruitment of contractual part-time teachers and raising teachers' salaries to above the poverty line.

5-3-1-2. Endorsement of laws and preparation of the groundwork for privatization of schools; delegation of the schools' management to the teachers and contractual part-time teachers, in the form of limited companies.

4-1-2. Ethnic minorities (Kurds, Turks, Arabs, Turkmens and Baluchis).

1-4-1-2. To end security surveillance of religious and ethnic minorities.

2-4-1-2. Adoption of measures aimed at decentralization and balanced development, based on the provisions of Article 48 of the constitution. This should be done through regionalization and federalization of the country's management by way of increasing the councils' authorities; local governors and governors-general should be elected by these councils toward the prospect of a regional decision-making Majles.

3-4-1-2. The government must facilitate the tuition and development of tribal languages at regional schools and introduce nationwide university courses on these languages based on the provisions of Article 15 of the constitution.

4-4-1-2. Introduction of undergraduate courses on multicultural studies based on the international syllabus, and annulment of any projects that prevent tuition of various levels of tribal studies at universities, in particular in the areas of human and social sciences.

5-4-1-2. Introduction of various units and courses on tribal multiculturalism at universities and different academic levels.

6-4-1-2. Allocation of permits for private radio and TV networks to various tribes, freedom of activity for tribal political parties, movements, NGOs and publications.

2-2. National demands.

1-2-2. Human rights, citizens' rights, and social rights. An end to security surveillance, [measures aimed at] realization of rights and elimination of discriminations.

1-1-2-2. Preparation and endorsement of a comprehensive national social security system.

2-1-2-2. Preparation and endorsement of a coordinated legal system for government employees and removing discriminations in the system of salary payments.

3-1-2-2. Formulation of laws toward the implementation of Chapter 3 of the constitution and civil rights, and true recognition of the right to demonstrate, and enforcement of Article 37 of the constitution.

4-1-2-2. Elimination of discrimination and prejudice in the selection of ethnic, religious and ideological minorities for jobs and managerial positions in all sectors.

5-1-2-2. Amendment of the discriminatory laws in the constitution, against women, ethnic and religious minorities.

6-1-2-2. The Islamic Guidance Ministry to grant permits for publication of newspapers and books on women's affairs.

7-1-2-2. Preparation of programs by social movements' activists on issues related to women, religious and ethnic minorities who have been discriminated against, for broadcast by the media, and release in the cinemas.

8-1-2-2. Since in the past, constant violations of the rights of various strata of people were defended by the independence of the branches of power and lack of the necessary means by the president, there is a need for the publication of a monthly report, commissioned by the president, on violations of the constitution.

9-1-2-2. Special attention should be paid to the environment and cultural heritage, and organizations affiliated to them must be protected.

2-2-2. Domestic policy.

Balanced development, decentralization.

1-2-2-2. A balanced and comprehensive development in human, social, economic, political, technological, health, hygiene and training spheres, based on human values and human welfare.

Unbalanced development (the kind that has hitherto been on the agenda in Iran) is long-lasting and irreversible. It is necessary that any development programs focus on comprehensive and all-embracing development. In addition to the obstacles in the way of development programs in Iran, these programs have also lacked the necessary comprehensiveness.

2-2-2-2. Reform of national administrative and bureaucratic systems, from their current huge, corrupt and complex form to a small, efficient and controllable form.

Iran's huge and complex bureaucracy not only delays works and activities, it is unmanageable and, in effect, contains many corrupt elements.

3-2-2-2. A review of the country's national divisions and regional management, with attention to the variety of tribes and religions.

4-2-2-2. Non-interference by the Law-Enforcement Force in social, political and cultural affairs, including removal of all kinds of Guidance Patrols from urban areas.

5-2-2-2. Extension of the permits of various NGOs, such as the nongovernmental organizations dealing with the rights of children, women and ... as well as human rights organizations, such as the Defenders of Human Rights Centre.

6-2-2-2. Reform of the national service duty, with attention to international standards.

3-2-2. Foreign policy.

Detente, cooperation with the international community, and resolution of the sanctions' issue.

1-3-2-2. Adoption of a pragmatic instead of an ideological foreign policy outlook, detente in foreign relations, and utilization of opportunities and changes that have come about in the international system, in a bid to secure national interests.

2-3-2-2. To determine the fate of the nuclear issue in keeping with national interests.

3-3-2-2. Adoption of a responsible stance toward the resolution of the Middle East crisis, with emphasis on maintaining the national rights of Iranians.

3-3-2-2. Elimination of the international pressures and sanctions imposed on the country.

4-3-2-2. Positive cooperation with regional and international organizations in keeping with national interests.

5-3-2-2. Establishment of relations with America based on out national interests.

6-3-2-2. Establishment of stability to attract foreign investment.

4-2-2. Economy.

To reform and expedite the processes of privatization and decentralization.

1-4-2-2. Reform the process of privatization, which, instead of privatization, is becoming nepotistic and monopolistic under the control of the government; reduction in the size of the government, economic liberalization, reduction in government's monopoly through giving increasing authority to the privatization sector, reduction in investment risks, and facilitating foreign investment.

2-4-2-2. Transparent economic programs, and attempts to stem the growth of economic corruption and a rentier economy, middlemen and dealers.

3-4-2-2. Formulation of laws on foreign investment and provision of a suitable groundwork for investment by foreigners and Iranian expatriates by reducing the risks of economic investment.

4-4-2-2. Endorsement of laws and regulations toward a fair distribution of economic resources and facilities throughout the country based on Article 48 of the constitution.

5-4-2-2. Special attention to the deprived regions' economic infrastructure, and allocation of the credits needed through private sector domestic and foreign investment in these deprived areas.

5-2-2. Culture. (newspapers, books, films ...)

Removal of controls and recognition of cultural pluralism, based on human rights and dignity.

1-5-2-2. To grant permits to nationwide press, books and films, particularly in cases when they have been illegally blocked; and formulation of serious plans to avert illegal and arbitrary bans on the press, books and films.

2-5-2-2. Removal of filters on political, cultural, social, student, women's and ethnic groups' websites by the Ministry of Communications and Technology and its affiliated organizations.

3-5-2-2. Formulation and endorsement of laws for creation of private broadcast media, radio and television.

[End]