Iranian Militia Plans Protest at Tehran University

Published May 23rd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Iran's volunteer fundamentalist militia called for a massive rally Tuesday at Tehran University, one day after thousands of students gathered to celebrate the third anniversary of reformist President Mohammed Khatami's election. 

The radio said the Bassijis planned to demonstrate in "well-regulated and disciplined columns" to commemorate the liberation of Khorramshahr, a southwest Iranian city taken back in 1982 after a year and a half of Iraqi occupation. 

The march comes just after the pro-Khatami demonstration, which had not been approved by authorities. Conservatives on Tuesday asked the Interior Minister to take action against the reformist student group that organized the event. 

Conservative newspapers and television condemned the students for chanting slogans against government leaders, notably former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, whom they accused of "buying votes." 

Rafsanjani, head of a block of conservative and moderate candidates, came in 20th of 28 candidates who were declared winners in legislative elections for the Tehran constituency, even though earlier official results showed Rafsanjani coming in 30th. 

The Bassijis, who according to official figures number five million, are under direct control of Iran's supreme spiritual guide, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, and are envisioned to be a "rapid intervention force of the people." 

Last July they forcefully put down pro-reform demonstrations in Tehran and the rest of the country -- TEHRAN (AFP) 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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