At Least Ten Hurt in Tehran in Student Clashes
At least 10 people were injured Saturday in clashes outside Tehran University when fundamentalist militias and riot police broke up fighting between reformist and conservative students, demonstrators said.
Witnesses said the initial clashes were between supporters of reformist President Mohammad Khatami and partisans of the fundamentalist movement Ansar Hizbullah.
Subsequently, witnesses said militias loyal to Iran's supreme spiritual leader Ali Khamenei, known as the Bassidjis, moved into the crowd, attacking reformist students with clubs.
Riot police moved in, firing tear gas and making hundreds of arrests.
Those injured in the fighting, which took place in Enghelab Avenue, in front of the university, were taken to hospital, witnesses said.
A statement from the armed opposition group, the People's Mujahedeen, received by AFP in Nicosia said security forces and militias had fired not only tear gas but also live bullets at a demonstration of "some 5,000 students and Tehran residents.
It said "infuriated students defied the brutality" of their attackers by throwing stones at them and chanting "down with Khamenei" and "Khatami, Khatami, this is the final notice.
Among the wounded were two 20-year-olds who had been stabbed in the back and a 62-year-old man who suffered a fractured skull and injury to an eye, the Mujahedeen said.
Police eventually dispersed the students, but Bassidji members were seen chasing people in vans and on motorcycles through the narrow streets in the neighborhood around the university and clubbing anyone they considered suspect.
Cars were damaged and shop windows broken.
Police earlier dispersed a crowd that demonstrated peacefully to mark the one-year anniversary of violent clashes at the university that left at least three dead.
Witnesses said about 20 students were handcuffed then and hauled off by plainclothes police during the demonstration by several hundred peaceful students who were holding a rally they called "reforms with a smile."
Student leaders had said that they did not want the anniversary to be an occasion for revolt and vengeance. The students were to hand out flowers to people in what organizers described as a "peaceful gesture."
But later in the day, students returned to the streets shouting "condemn the authors of the repression" in July 1999, "identify those responsible" and "free political prisoners."
A military court already announced last week that it will hand down a verdict next Tuesday in the case of 20 police officers who were tried for their role in assaulting a university dormitory, which led to the rioting.
But the students say that trial is not enough.
"We came again tonight spontaneously to demonstrate our good will," said a youth who identified himself as Hassan, a student of letters.
"Here's the result. It is a sharp blow to the students and to the liberty that had been promised to us," he said - TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)