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IRAN: Students commemorate slain classmate as government prepares for more protests

June 2, 2010 | 11:29 am

Almost one year after 25-year-old Kianoosh Asa was killed during the unrest that rocked Iran and captivated the world following the disputed 2009 presidential election, hundreds of students at the University of Science and Technology in Tehran defied authorities by holding a demonstration to commemorate him.

Asa, a chemical engineering student originally from Kermanshah in western Iran, was arrested in Tehran on June 15 of last year. His family found his body in a morgue 10 days later, reportedly bearing signs of torture.

On Tuesday, more than 450 students participated in Monday's demonstration, singing songs of student unity and shouting "Allahu Akbar" -- God is great --  which has been taken up as the rallying cry of the opposition.

"A student will die but will not surrender to oppression," some shouted, according to a video posted online by the Iran Students' Committee.

Picture 18 The group also posted footage from a sparsely attended speech by President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad on the same day, painting the poor turnout as an act of defiance.

Authorities are bracing for more unrest with the approach of the first anniversary of the elections and the wave of anti-government protests and violent crackdown that followed.

The government has tightened security in recent weeks, summoning large numbers of basiji paramilitary forces to Tehran, ostensibly for the 21st anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but reportedly keeping them there till June 12 when a large opposition demonstration is expected to take place.

Opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who ran against Ahmedinejad in last year's disputed elections, submitted a formal letter requesting permission for the June 12 marches, a request that is expected to be denied.

Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Meris Lutz in Beirut

Video: Students defy government by commemorating slain classmate. Credit: Iran Students' Committee via YouTube