to the University of St. Andrews
an Honorary Degree!
Mohammad Khatami, Iran's 'President' from 1997 to 2005, will be travelling to Britain to receive the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws in Scotland and deliver a speech at Chatham House in London. Help us mobilise big protests against his presence in Britain.
As part of his visit to Britain, Mr Khatami, who is President of the
self-styled International Foundation for Dialogue Among Civilisations,
will visit the University of St Andrews on Tuesday 31 October 2006 where Sir Menzies Campbell will confer the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws on him. He will also officially open the Institute for Iranian Studies
in the Faculty of Arts and deliver a lecture.
The next day, on Wednesday 1 November, Mr Khatami will visit Chatham
House in London to deliver a speech and take questions from the
Khatami began promoting the concept of "Dialogue Among Civilisations"
during his first term as 'President'. The main purpose of this was to
help the Iranian regime break its diplomatic and economic isolation by
establishing relations with many European Union and Arab countries and
to develop closer ties with existing trade partners.
Since he left office in August 2005 Khatami has been speaking on this
and related topics in a number of countries. He recently made a much
publicised lecture tour of the US where he spoke about "Dialogue Among
Civilisations" and similar subjects like "The Ethics of Tolerance in the
Age of Violence" at Harvard and Virginia universities.
While his successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, plays up his 'bad Hezbollahi'
act through regular anti-Semitic rants and defiant pledges about
developing nuclear power we see Khatami helping to soften the regime's
image with his 'good mollah' routine. He travels the world as the voice
of the 'reformers' and the 'moderate' wing of a brutal dictatorship
responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iranians and
Khatami's real role
Yet despite his reputation as a 'reformer' and a 'moderate' a brief look
at his career and period in office will clarify the true nature of the
man and his crucial role within the regime.
The perception of Khatami in Europe, as a 'reformer' who tried hard to
bring certain freedoms to the Iranian people, is totally false and
without foundation. His numerous propaganda and censorship roles in the
1980s and 1990s, and his co-operation with the 'hardliners' in crushing
the mass movements during his 'presidency' - particularly the students'
protests in July 1999, expose the depth of his hypocrisy when talking
about "dialogue" and "tolerance"!
Before becoming 'President' Khatami held important propaganda and
censorship roles within the regime. During the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88)
he held various positions, including Deputy and Head of the Joint
Command of the Armed Forces and Chairman of the War Propaganda
Headquarters. At the height of the repression during the war, in
1982-1986, and then again immediately afterwards in the 1989-May 1992,
when tens of thousands of political prisoners were executed, Khatami was
Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance - i. e., propaganda and
In 1992 Khatami became an Advisor to 'President' Rafsanjani and in 1996
he was appointed to the High Council for Cultural Revolution by
Ayatollah Khameneii. He was elected as the fifth 'President' of the
Islamic Republic on 23 May 1997 elections and re-elected for a second
term on 8 June 2001.
Khatami's record as 'President'
It was during Khatami's first term as 'President' of the Islamic
Republic of Iran that students were gunned down in the streets, thrown
out of second-floor windows and murdered in their dormitories! The whole
world is familiar with the image of Ahmad Batebi, a film studies
student, holding up a bloody T-shirt during a demonstration in July
1999. For that he was sentenced to death!
The students' 'crime' was that of protesting against the closure of
Salam - a 'pro-reform' and pro-Khatami newspaper! Yet Khatami and the
'reformers' approved and co-operated with the Hezbollahi and Basij
(mobilisation) thugs in crushing this movement when it demanded real
freedoms. There was no "dialogue" between students and the government;
no "dialogue" between the 'President' and the youth supporting him on
the street. The "dialogue" was in the emergency meetings of the regime's
various factions aimed at devising a plan for swiftly and brutally
crushing all protests that were not government-controlled.
Even after the parliamentary elections of February 2000, when the
'reformers' became a majority in the Majles (parliament), there was no
significant move to improve any rights for w orkers, youth, women and
national minorities in Iran. Khatami's loyalty to the Leader (first
Khomeini and then Khameneii) and the Islamic regime has meant that
despite the rhetoric of his platform during election campaigns and
lectures, he served to prolong the bloody reign of this corrupt and
Here we provide a short selection of the ways he conspired against the
masses or simply looked the other way.
Throughout the eight years of Khatami's 'presidency' there were many
workers struggles which were suppressed and many issues that were not
resolved. The continuing privatisation programme continued, left many
workers out of work, including tens of thousands in the textile industry
- 4 March 2001: 500 workers from the Simin textile factory in Esfahan
gathered outside the factory to protest against unpaid wages. At least
25 workers were arrested.
- 6 May 2001: security forces and riot police attacked a peaceful
demonstration by textile workers from the Baresh factory in Esfahan with
tear gas, injuring 50 workers.
- 15 July 2001: workers from the Jamco clothing and Shadanpoor shoe
factories organised a joint demonstration outside the Majles
(parliament) to demand their unpaid wages . A number of workers were
shot dead by the security forces.
- 17 January 2004: following a protest by laid off contract workers at
the Khatoonabad copper smelting plant four workers were shot dead and
dozens were injured by the riot police.
- 1 May 2004: seven labour activists trying to organise a May Day
demonstration in Saghez are arrested. Their trials are still continuing.
- 9 May 2005: around 300 agents of the Labour House and the Islamic
Labour Councils, together with the security forces, broke the door of
the Sherkat-e Vahed Union and broke windows, tore up documents and
books, and beat up around ten members of the Founding Committee of the
The various Labour Code amendments during this time did nothing to
legalise trade unions, the right to strike, the right to elect genuine
workers' representatives, to have bosses pay wages on time and so on.
All that happened was many workers in small workshops, many of whom are
women, lost even more of their limited rights and safeguards!
Students and youth
- July 1999: at least four students are killed when Hezbollahis attack
Tehran University dormitories.
- Ahmad Batebi was condemned to death (later reduced to 13 years in
- At least three more students detained in 1999, Mehrdad Lohrassbi,
Akbar Mohammadi and Manouchehr Mohammadi, remain in prison serving long
- Student activists continue to be arrested, tortured and die in prison.
- At least 18 women were stoned to death under Khatami.
- Two 'reformist' women's rights activists received four-year prison
- New laws were passed discriminating against women and aimed at
restricting debate about their rights.
- The serial murders of political dissidents by what were claimed to be
"rogue elements" in the Intelligence Ministry took place. To date there
have been no satisfactory prosecutions.
- Imprisonment (or house arrest) of a whole range of the regime's own
supporters who have voiced some criticisms, including Ayatollah
Hossein-Ali Montazeri and Akbar Ganji, took place.
- The trial and death sentence (later reduced to a prison term) on
Hashem Aghajari, a university professor.
Journalists and the press
- The closure of over 20 'reformist' newspapers by the judiciary.
- The attempted assassination of Saeed Hajjarian, the editor of Sobh-e
Emrooz, and considered by many as the main strategist of the 'reform'
- Jailing of many 'reformist' journalists including Emadeddin Baghi,
Akbar Ganji and Mashallah Shamsolvaezin.
National and religious minorities
- Eleven Jewish men from Shiraz were tried and sentenced as spies for
allegedly maintaining contacts with Israel.
- Many Bahais were persecuted because of their religion, including the
death penalty for three men in 2000.
- Shwaneh Ghaderi, a Kurdish political activist, is shot dead by the
All national and religious minorities suffer from prejudice and
discrimination. The Kurds and Baluchis, since they are Sunni rather than
Shia, experience religious harassment in additional to ethnic bias.
- During the last seven months of Khatami's 'presidency' at least four
people who had committed crimes while children were executed.
- Each year between August 1997 and August 2005 dozens of people were
The level of repression in Iran affects nearly all sections of the
population: it is based on class, race, sex, conscience and so on. Help
us expose the sham 'reformist' and 'moderate' rhetoric of Khatami and
the system where a group of mollahs decide how people should live and
How you can help
We know about two events that Khatami will be attending:
St Andrews University, St Andrews, Scotland - 31 October:
- A number of left-wing Iranian activists will be picketing the
university. Encourage your comrades in Scotland to join them.
- Encourage your contact in the National Union of Students in Scotland
to protest against Khatami's presence on the campus.
- Sir Menzies Campbell, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, is
Chancellor of St Andrews University. Encourage a left-wing Labour MP to
ask Campbell how he can give this honour to this man, considering his
big role in the repression in Iran? Ask Margaret Beckett about why she
approved a visa for this man.
Chatham House, London - 1 November:
- Encourage your NUJ comrades or contacts in the meeting to ask Khatami
about the repression in Iran.
- Join the Chatham House picket which starts at about 4pm. Encourage you
comrades and contacts in London to come along with their trade union and
We hope you can join in with these activities and expose the true nature
of Khatami and the regime he serves and thus help to boost the struggles
of workers, youth, women and national minorities in Iran. For further
information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Iranian Revolutionary Socialists' League
25 October 2006