12/07/2009, 00.00
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Demonstrators and police clash in Tehran as video images go online

Local sources talk about arrests, violence and regime militiamen using tear gas used against protesters. University students chant slogans against the “dictator” and in solidarity with arrested students. Despite the censorship, first video images of the protest make it on net.
Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Security forces and pro-government militiamen with batons and tear gas clashed today with thousands of opposition protesters outside Tehran University. The day, which commemorates the death of students in 1953, has provided the latter with an opportunity to demonstrate against Iran’s conservative government and brave bans and threats.  

Local sources have confirmed that students and security forces have been involved in clashes; the first images of the violence have already made online. In Iran 7 December is a day in which the death of three university students is commemorated. They were killed in 1953 during an anti-American protest. Since 1990, the event has been used by students and activists to protest against the government and stage pro-reform demonstrations despite bans.

Eyewitnesses said that police and opposition sympathisers clashed in the streets of the capital. Security forces and basijees militiamen (volunteers of the revolution) waded into the crowds of protesters, beating men and women on the heads and shoulders with batons, while security forces fired tear gas, to disperse the demonstrators.

Similarly, the authorities have shut base stations in the past few days—they allow mobile phone communication. Pro-opposition websites have also been blocked, and sending e-mails has been made difficult.

Despite the repression and the attempts at censorship, the first images of today’s protests have been uploaded to the net.  

In one video on YouTube, a crowd of students is seen shouting slogans against the regime and the conservative government. “Death to the dictator” and “We are with the arrested students” are some of the slogans shouted by the students. Iranian flags are also being waved with the symbol of the Islamic Republic cut out.

In a second video, students are seen smearing a picture of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei before setting them on fire.

Local sources note that if after the 12 June elections that saw the conservative candidate elected demonstrators chanted, “give our vote back”. Now they are targeting the “system and its leaders”, demanding an end to the ruling theocracy in favour of democracy.

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