Hassled by the Man

May 1, 1970 — Mustang Daily (Cal Poly SLO)

The Mossadegh Project | April 3, 2019                      


In April 1970, two Iranian students at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo (Behzad Alavi and Mohammed Fayyaz Sanavi) were arrested by campus security for distributing literature at a school festival which they had been told was inappropriate and forbidden for the occasion.

The following response from a representative of the anti-Shah Iranian activists was published in the student newspaper, The Mustang. Soon after this, the school dropped the criminal charges, opting for disciplinary action instead.

Iranian hassle

by Iranian Students Executive Committee
Javad Ghasseme

Last week was the thirty-eighth Poly Royal in which we as an organized foreign student body participated. Our purpose in participating was to show the culture, art and the peopleís living condition in our country to our American friends. Contrary to what some people believe, we do think that we could familiarize our friends with our country only through a display of carpets and hand-crafted materials. For this reason, the members of our association, in the general meeting, decided to show the Americans the life and culture of the people of Iran through art works, pictures, posters, essays and other published material.

Iran is one of the countries which has been held back in the world, a condition which has been imposed upon our hard-working people by the corruption of the government through imperialism. There is no trace of freedom in the country. [Exaggeration] The masses live under the worst possible conditions. [Ditto] Because the outcome of the labor by the masses is exploited by a small group of exploiters, there is an amazing gap between the standard of living for the different social classes. The people of Iran are aware of homelessness and know well what the major cause of it is. They have not neglected their struggle against their enemies. These were all the things which we wanted to display in our booth, and as a result, inform our American friends of the truth about the situation and the imperialistic culture of Iran. We believe that as a result of the brainwashing through the government newspapers in Iran and many of the news media in the U.S., our American friends are quite uninformed as to the world situation. If we donít inform our American friends about the situation in Iran which is a sample of many other countries held in backwardness, they will never get a chance to understand the truth.

What goes on in Iran is quite similar to the situation in Vietnam, Palestine, South America, South Africa and the other underdeveloped countries which have the present condition because of the cruelty of imperialism. Imperialism is an economic product, an exploitation of cheap man power and of raw material, the economic control and Industrial market for all of the developed countries.

Imperialism is that inhumane force which teaches racism and segregation among people so that a few people can fill their pockets which is at the cost of the lives of many innocent people across the world. Even though the governments of America and Russia and many other countries are all imperialistic and the cause of the hand-picked governments in the world like the corrupt and cruel regime of the Shah of Iran, we didnít know that the administration of the school cooperated with the imperialists. We didnít think that the school administration in the U.S. would take away our basic right of freedom and democracy, that is, the freedom of expression.

It has been a long time since we have been studying about freedom and democracy at the American schools, but this time we saw well that in here there is only the name of democracy and a club can exist as long as there is propaganda in favor of the exploiters. But as soon as someone wants to tell the truth which would show the true face of the regimes like that of Iran, he is confronted by the police force. That is when democracy becomes a beautiful story which doesnít seem to exist.

We are certain that if we had intended to distribute material in favor of the Shahís regime, two of our friends would not have been arrested and we would have been commended by the school. This is indeed a bad situation for us.

Why is it that the school allows propaganda films on Vietnam? Why is it that the school allows the Standard Oil of California to publicize for sale which is against school regulations?

Why is it the American groups can distribute published material, but our association being a foreign group, cannot distribute material about the true situation in their country? Isnít this discrimination? Isnít this dictatorship? Isnít this a support of the corrupt and inhumane regime of the Shah of Iran by our school?

When we asked the Poly Royal Committee to give us a written statement saying they do not want us to distribute the material, they refused to do so. Isnít this making fun of the foreign students? The office of foreign students which is to protect their rights announced in front of a group of people during Poly Royal that we foreign students do not have equal rights with American students. Isnít this discrimination?

We and all our international friends want freedom and democracy, and we will struggle to obtain this.

Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954
Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954

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Related links:

No Democracy For Iranians | Letter to Spartan Daily (SJSU), Oct. 25, 1977

Iran teach-in at UIUC Protesting Shahís 2,500 Year Party (Oct. 12, 1971)

The Iranian People Live In Poverty | The Stanford Daily, Oct. 30, 1974

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — ďIf I sit silently, I have sinnedĒ

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