IRAN: Despite crackdown, students stage anti-government protests nationwide
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Defying a severe crackdown against the opposition and widespread political repression, Iranian students on Tuesday staged small anti-government protests throughout the country on the anniversary of Students Day.
Amateur video footage taken during illegal protests on campuses throughout the country showed students chanting slogans from last year’s huge demonstrations against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose widely disputed reelection last year spurred months of unrest.
‘Mahmoud, you traitor,’ they chanted on the grounds of Tehran’s Sharif University. ‘Death to you!’
Video footage showed student gatherings in the cities of Ghazvin while unconfirmed reports trickled in of protests in other cities. ‘Students would rather die than give in to tyranny,’ they chanted at a campus in the Caspian Sea city of Gilan, according to video footage.
Video footage also showed students gathering and singing protest songs at the Art Faculty at Tehran University and putting themselves in chains on the campus of Amir Kabir University in the capital.
Opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi, who ran and lost against Ahmadinejad last year, told a group of student activists and relatives of imprisoned students ‘not to lose their hope as these days will pass and the victory is near,’ according to a report posted on the unofficial Facebook page of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.
A night before Tuesday’s protests Iranians climbed to their rooftops or stepped onto their balconies to chant ‘God is great!’ and ‘Death to the dictator!’ for the first time in months.
Dec. 7 marks the day in 1953 when students rose up to defend then-Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh following a U.S.-backed coup d'etat that reinstated the monarch. Students have for years co-opted the holiday as an anti-government rally. The opposition movement born of Ahmadinejad’s marred reelection took to the streets last year during the holiday.
Many were arrested in the days before and after last year’s protests, but despite a heavy police presence throughout parts of the capital Tuesday, there have been as yet no reports of mass arrests. Authorities appear willing to accept such protests -- some analysts say they are welcomed as safety valves and as tools for identifying troublemakers -- so long as they stay confined to campuses.
Videos: From above, students chant slogans against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a Tehran university campus; students sing a patriotic song associated with the opposition movement at another Tehran campus; residents of Tehran chant slogans from their rooftops on Monday night. Credit: YouTube