Accessibility links

(RFE/RL) Clashes between students and police erupted overnight at two of the Iranian capital's universities, leaving several people wounded. The students, who held fresh protests today, are demanding that their representatives be elected to university councils.


PRAGUE, May 24, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The overnight protests and clashes took place at Tehran University and Amir Kabir University, one of Iran's most prestigious technical colleges.


The state news agency IRNA today quotes Tehran's police chief, Brigadier General Morteza Talaie, as saying that some 40 law enforcement officers were lightly injured overnight near Tehran University.

The protesters overnight chanted slogans against the country's conservative religious leaders, shouting: "We don't want the Islam of the Taliban," and "Death to reaction and dictatorship."

Police, Students Blame Each Other


Talaie blamed what he described as "thugs from outside the university" for attacking the police with stones. He also claimed no arrests were made among students and that police had shown "maximum restraint and patience" in order to avoid further unrest.


Neko Nesbati is a student at Tehran University. Speaking to Radio Farda by phone, he said tensions have been mounting for the past three days, triggering scuffles between reformist and pro-government, hard-line Islamic students.


"The atmosphere at the university is very tense, as in previous days," he said. "Tonight, we once again witnessed the intervention of security forces and paramilitary hard-liners. A group of security officials took us to the university's mosque and verbally attacked us."


Another Tehran-based student, Mohsen Sohrabi, blamed police and paramilitary elements for the overnight violence at Amir Kabir University.


"We were about 2,000 students," he said. "The attack by security forces was followed by serious clashes. Fifteen [students] are reported missing and more than 70 were injured."


No Student Representation


Students are protesting attempts reportedly made by members of the Islamic Basij movement to bar their elected representatives from holding seats in university councils. The Basij, which was founded in 1979 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, provided shock troops during the 1980-1988 with Iraq. It is now a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.


Basij members (AFP file photo)

ISNA today says Tehran University students are protesting against the forced retirement of nine of their professors. The student news agency also reports the protesters overnight chanted slogans against the country's conservative religious leaders, shouting: "We don't want the Islam of the Taliban," and "Death to reaction and dictatorship."


Radio Farda quotes police sources as saying hundreds of protesters today barricaded themselves inside the dormitories of both universities.


There has been no official reaction from government officials.


Tehran University was the scene of similar protests in 1999.


The unrest was prompted by the closure of a pro-reformist newspaper. Police and paramilitary forces raided the university after six days of protests, killing at least five people.

RFE/RL Iran Report


SUBSCRIBE For regular news and analysis on Iran by e-mail, subscribe to "RFE/RL Iran Report."
XS
SM
MD
LG