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IRAN: Video footage of Tehran protests surfaces [Updated]

December 7, 2009 |  4:24 am


Video posted to the Internet shows protests in Tehran between students and riot-gear-clad security forces armed with tear gas as Iran marks its National Student Day. 

People posting to social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook described a heavy buildup of security forces in the streets of Tehran in the early morning hours, and students said pro-government Basiji militiamen had entered university campuses to prevent protests from breaking out.

Video posted to YouTube depicted hundreds of students at Tehran University chanting anti-government slogans, and reports on Twitter said students had gathered at one of the university's main gates, surrounded by police and Basiji militamen.

In the early afternoon, heavy clashes were reported to be taking place outside the Faculty of Engineering at Tehran University, with security forces allegedly beating students and firing tear gas.

Meanwhile, other reports on Twitter claimed severe clashes were taking place around Jomhouri and Enghelab streets in Tehran and that a group of students gathered at the fine arts academy had been locked in by police.

Information is also surfacing on the Internet about riot police supposedly entering Amir Kabir University in Tehran and that students are setting fires to protect themselves from tear gas used by the police.

Some reports even said gunshots had been heard from inside Amir Kabir University, but this could not be confirmed. (Tear gas canisters being fired can be mistaken for gunfire.)

Photos obtained by The Times show pro-government security forces arresting an alleged student demonstrator on the streets of Tehran. Supporters of the protesters urged people to go to Somayeh Street, where arrested students were allegedly being put into buses and escorted away.

Protests also appear to have erupted in other parts of the country. The video below, which was posted on YouTube, shows a crowd of students chanting "death to the government" and "go away Basijis" in the eastern city of Mashhad. 

[Updated at 6:32 a.m. PST: Student protests and clashes between defiant demonstrators and security forces appear to have continued in several parts of Tehran in the afternoon and early evening.  

Mehdi Saharkhiz reported on his Twitter account that clashes were taking place between demonstrators and security forces around Tehran's Vali Asr and Enghelab streets and that pro-government Basiji militiamen were scanning the classrooms of Tehran's Polytechnic University for students passing out information about protests.

Twitter user manic77 reported that "people in the streets are talking about protests all over Tehran."

The same user also reported Beheshti University student chanting slogans outside Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, where scores of political opponents are jailed.

Twitter users have also uploaded numerous pictures of a crowd of protesters, some of them dressed in green shirts or wearing green wristbands, gathering in Tehran.

Demonstrators seem to have become increasingly bold. New footage uploaded to YouTube shows a group of protesters fighting security forces at an unknown location in Iran, setting fire to trash cans to protect themselves against tear gas and chanting anti-government slogans such as "cannons, tanks and Basijis no longer have an effect on us."

Meanwhile, images of alleged pro-government security forces roaming the streets with batons and masks are being posted on Twitter. People on social networking sites say arrests of demonstrators have continued throughout the afternoon.

Green banners are also being spotted at student protests at universities, including one held at the Iran University of Science and Industry, where demonstrators, seen in the YouTube video below, are chanting anti-government slogans, including, "Basiji, have some dignity -- leave our university."

A series of photos posted on the Internet that were said to be taken at today's protest at Tehran University show a field of marching students carrying green balloons and banners.

Reports about additional student protests in other parts of the country, including the cities of Shiraz, Isfahan and Tabriz have also started to trickle in.

The footage below from YouTube allegedly shows a student protest in Isfahan.]

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Photo: Plainclothes security forces arrest an alleged student protester in Tehran. Credit: Special to the Times

Videos: Amateur footage of protests in Tehran. Credit: YouTube