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IRAN: Video apparently shows security officers attacking students on campus

February 24, 2010 |  7:26 am

Explosive video footage, apparently leaked to the international media, purportedly shows Iranian security officials and plainclothes Basiji militiamen pummeling students at dormitories of Tehran University in the early morning of June 15, just days after Iran's contested presidential elections. The source of the video is not yet known.

Reports at the time of the June unrest at campuses said at least five students were killed in the dormitory violence, which failed to prevent hundreds of thousands of Iranians from pouring into the streets of the capital later that day in the first of four mass demonstrations that shook the nation. Blogs, such as Enduring America, have been studiously dissecting the footage for clues and pondering reasons for the leak.

First broadcast on BBC's Persian-language satellite news channel, the footage shows silhouettes of men armed with clubs and dressed in body armor walking determinedly through the night, beating the limp bodies of students apparently dragged from their rooms.

Occasionally, a voice can be heard saying, "Don't hit them! Don't hit them!" But if it's not clear if the person is admonishing the forces not to beat the students or sarcastically egging them on.

The reputation of Iran's security forces already had been damaged by the prison scandal at Kahrizak and the vast deployment of of often brutal law enforcement agents throughout the capital during recent protests.  

The emergence of the video footage appears to have put Iranian officials into damage-control mode in defending the tactics of law enforcement. An article in the hardline Fars News Agency (in Persian) insists the security forces were only defending themselves after they came under attack by students throwing Molotov cocktails.

"Today, police are powerful, popular, courageous and reasonable," Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, the top military adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, told police commanders, according to the official news website of the Revolutionary Guard (in Persian). "Everywhere in the world, even in Europe and America, police strongly confront rioters. No government tolerates insecurity, arson and vandalizing of public properties."

Police chief Gen. Esmail Ahmadi-Moqaddam told the Iranian Students News Agency that law enforcement would try to shore up its reputation following the violence of recent months.

"All detention centers, interrogation rooms and reformatories have been ordered to install surveillance cameras and monitoring equipment," he said. "Police inspectors will regularly visit the detention centers. Police are also setting up a committee to protect civil rights in detention centers."

They also defended extreme security measures in the capital during the recent celebrations marking the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, claiming security forces had arrested "100 would-be bombers and assassins" in Iran in the weeks preceding the holiday.

"Even when a European city hosts a summit, the city is militarized," said Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani, commander of the Tehran Revolutionary Guards, according to the Iranian Labor News Agency. "How can we turn a blind eye to people's security?"

-- Los Angeles Times

Video: Footage that was said to be taken during an attack on the Tehran University dormitory last June. Credit: YouTube


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