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December 8, 2009 by  

Bedrock Official Video:On Monday The Lede is following news of anti-government protests in Iran as the country marks Student Day, an annual commemoration of the killing of three students at a protest at Tehran University on Dec. 7, 1953, in the aftermath of a coup supported by the American and British governments to restore the Shah to power and topple the country’s elected prime minister. For an overview of today’s events, read the news article my colleagues Nazila Fathi and Robert Worth are writing for Tuesday’s newspaper.

Readers are encouraged to let us know about eyewitness accounts, in the form of text, photographs or video they see online by using the comments thread below or by writing to us at All update times reflect the hour in New York.

Update | 5:31 p.m. A BBC report on video of protests across Iran on Monday led us to this clip, apparently shot during a rally Ferdowsi University, in the northern city of Mashad, showing opposition supporters chanting slogans through the school’s gate at members of the security forces:

It is past 2 a.m. in Iran now, but Iranian bloggers continue to upload video, photographs and text accounts of Monday’s protests to the Web. The Lede will return on Tuesday to look more closely at this fresh evidence that Iran’s opposition movement remains vital nearly six months after the disputed election in June.

Here is one last video, apparently showing protesters on a Tehran street after dark on Monday:

Update | 5:09 p.m. Two eyewitness accounts of Monday’s protests posted on the Web site Tehran Bureau give a sense of the demonstrations both on and off campus in the capital.

One of Tehran Bureau’s unnamed eyewitnesses reported:

I got to Tehran University at 1 p.m. Protesters in scattered pockets walked along the sidewalks of nearby streets … among heavy security presence. At the intersection of Valiasr and Bozorgmehr [near Valiasr Square], security forces attacked us with teargas, batons, and paint-ball guns, and also fired shots into the air to disperse us. I was seized at some point while running and was clubbed and kicked in the abdomen. I was sure I would be arrested, but surprisingly they let me go.

Near Amir Kabir University, I heard loud slogans being chanted, and later learned that students had broken down the gates of the campus.

Around 4 p.m., I was near Enqelab Square, where there was so much tear gas that the police forces themselves were affected by it. I saw a police officer with streaming eyes, who was having cigarette smoke blown in his eyes by protesters to take away the sting. Pockets of protesters formed ‘flash crowds’ to chant slogans, and dis-banded and re-banded after clashing with security forces. Toward the end, the forces seemed exhausted, and mainly threw tear gas rather than beating with batons. Traffic was heavy and cars were honking loudly. This lasted until about 6 pm.

Most slogans today were targeted at the Supreme Leader, and were shouted even in the presence of security forces — an emboldened move compared to last times. The tone of the slogans were angrier and more radical than before.

This video appears to capture the moment the students at Ami Kabir University pulled down the gates containing their protest:

Iran’s state-supported English-language broadcaster Press TV reported that “a group of rioters, wearing green clothes, destroyed the Vali Asr entrance of Amir Kabir University and attacked students inside the campus.”

Tehran Bureau’s other eyewitness described skirmishes between students and members of the pro-government Basij militia on the campus of Tehran University:

The south side of campus where the main entrance is located was blocked by Basij forces. Caught up in the fever of the resistance anthem and slogan-chanting, students moved south to face off with the Basij. Because the Basij had entered campus without student IDs posing as students, the students mocked them with shouts of: “Phony student, where’s your student card?”

As Basij are famously paid by the government for their services, students also shouted at them, “Basiji go home, no free meal today!” and “Get lost, mercenary!” Basijis replied with shouts of “Death to Traitors” [Marg bar monafegh].

As the slogan-battle escalated, the sides became physically engaged. The Basij on campus were unarmed and attacked students with bare fists, and students fought back in defense. The skirmish lasted a quarter of an hour and ended when people on both sides intervened to stop the fighting.

It was about 1 pm by then. The students, a crowd of about two thousand, headed back to the Faculty of Technology. The Basijis, holding Iranian flags and photos of Imam Khomeini, followed the students to disperse them.

This video, uploaded to YouTube on Monday, appears to show some of the tense confrontation between student protesters and members of the Basij militia on the Tehran University campus:

The first image in this slide show produced by my colleague Lisa Iaboni also appears to show green-clad protesters and flag-waving, pro-government demonstrators colliding on Monday in Tehran.

Update | 5:01 p.m. According to a report from The Associated Press:

The rallies were the largest in months, bringing tens of thousands out on more than a dozen campuses around the country and in several major squares in Tehran as university students — a bedrock of support for the pro-reform movement — energized the opposition.

Update | 4:40 p.m. In an article on the Iranian-American Web site Tehran Bureau, Muhammad Sahimi explains that Iran’s Student Day commemorates the death of three students at Tehran University 56 years ago today, during a protest against a visit by Richard Nixon, who was then America’s vice president. As Mr. Sahimi explains, news of the planned visit enraged students because it came in the aftermath of an anti-democratic coup against Iran’s elected government that year that was supported by the American government:

After the CIA/MI6 coup of August 18, 1953, when the popular government of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh was overthrown and Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was put back on the throne, campuses became even more political. In the immediate aftermath of the coup, an extremely repressive and oppressive environment prevailed in Iran. The universities remained the most important places where protests against the anti-nationalist and foreign-sponsored coup were taking place.

On November 15, 1953, the coup government announced that Richard M. Nixon, then Vice President to U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, would pay a visit to Iran on December 9, 1953, presumably to celebrate with the Shah the demise of the Mosaddegh government and restoration of the monarchy.

Update | 3:31 p.m. Perhaps illustrating the difficulty of winning a fight with students, who have untold reserves of creative energy, the Web site Payvand shows 13 examples of Iranian banknotes with opposition messages stamped or scribbled on them in green ink.

Payvand explains:

Anti-government activists are not allowed to express themselves in [the] Iranian media, so thes activists have taken their expressions to another high circulation mass-medium, banknotes. The Central Bank of Iran has tried to take these banknotes out of circulation, but there are just too many of them, and gave up. For the activists it’s a way of saying, “We are here, and the green movement is going on.”

In this video, apparently recorded on Monday at Amir Kabir Univeristy in Tehran, young protesters can be seen waving banknotes during their protest against the government:

One of our readers and the Iranian-American Web site Tehran Bureau suggest that the waving of money in this video is unrelated to the banknote protest, but is instead related to the allegation that the paramilitary Basiji militia members who have been used to break up opposition demonstrations are mercenaries.

Update | 3:27 p.m. A reader points out that the Facebook video we linked to earlier, of a protest at a girls high school, has now been uploaded to YouTube as well, which allows us to embed it here:

The reader, Sina, writes that the chants include: “Teacher, teacher, support us!”, “I will kill whoever killed my brother!” and “Political prisoners should be released.”

Update | 3:22 p.m. Mojtaba Saminejad, an Iranian blogger, points to this video apparently shot today in the city of Mashad, showing student protesters chanting at members of the security forces:

Update | 3:14 p.m. The Web site of the group Human Rights Activists in Iran has several photographs of student protests on Monday at Tehran University, Tabriz University, and Zanjan University.

Update | 2:42 p.m. There have been reports on reformist Web sites that Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi, was attacked when she attended a protest at Tehran University on Monday. According to a report on the Web site Rahesabz, Ms. Rahnavard was attacked by a group of vigilantes and had pepper spray squirted in her face.

A reader of The Lede sent us this partial translation of a report on the Web site of the Association of Iranian Women that quotes an eyewitness to the attack on Ms. Rahnavard:

At approximately 11 a.m., Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, a professor at Tehran University and Mir Hussein Moussavi’s wife was threatened by several women who claimed to be Basijis.

Dr. Rahnavard, a professor at Tehran University of Fine Arts was at the University for the Students’ Day celebration.

According to one eyewitness, Dr. Rahnavard asked the women, ‘Why are you following me?’ And they claimed that they were there to protect her. Dr. Rahnavard said ‘You have not left me alone since the morning, and have followed me from my office wherever I go.’

… Dr. Rahnavard said to them ‘I tell you that I am green from head to toe and you have come here to prevent me from participating.’

The conversation eventually led to verbal conflict. The leader of the women asked Dr. Rahnavard what was her ideology before and after the Revolution.

… Dr. Rahnavard said ‘Are you an interrogator or are you here for my security, as you claim?’ And the woman said ‘You are scared of us.’ Dr. Rahnavard responded, ‘I fear no one except God, and even if you chop me up and send me to my grave, the only sound you will hear from my grave will be that of green freedom and democracy.’

According to the eyewitness, Dr. Rahnavard was successful in getting the university police to eject the women from the campus, but the same trouble that occurred inside, occurred outside as well. As Dr. Rahnavard was getting into her car, they sprayed pepper spray into her face … resulting in suffocation and temporary blindness. Then, people and store owners from area came to her help

The report concludes by saying that the university police intervened to protect Ms. Rahnavard from the women who sprayed the gas in her face, but that she had problems seeing and breathing as a result of the attack.

Update | 2:35 p.m. It is after 11 p.m. in Iran now, but there are reports that protests continued well past nightfall. The Swiss-based Iranian blogger Omid Habibinia wrote on Twitter within the past hour that the security forces were on Tehran’s streets but the the “nightly protest” was going ahead anyway.

This video, uploaded to YouTube less than an hour ago, appears to show protesters singing there after dark:

Update | 2:32 p.m. This video, attributed to the Students Committee in Iran, reportedly shows students fleeing the security forces on a street near Tehran University earlier on Monday:

Update | 2:23 p.m. It appears that even high school students in Iran have gotten involved in the protests. The Iranian blogger Mojtaba Saminejad points us to this video, posted on Facebook, apparently showing girls in a high school in Isfahan on Monday chanting opposition slogans.

Update | 1:50 p.m. This video, uploaded to YouTube on Monday, appears to show Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, at a student protest in Tehran:

Ms. Hashemi was reportedly arrested at the protest. My colleague Nazila Fathi explains that in the video the students chant: “Faezeh, thank you!”

Update | 1:15 p.m. Dozens of video clips have been uploaded to the Web on Monday, all apparently showing new anti-government protests across Iran on National Students’ Day. Some of the YouTube channels collecting videos posted online today include: the Iran News Agency channel, the Green Power channel, the Unity 4 Iran channel and the Green Wave channel.

The Iranian-American Web site Tehran Bureau has made a good annotated selection of the day’s clips, including this one, reportedly shot at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran:Tehran Bureau also points out that in the video embedded in our 9:49 a.m. update — apparently showing student sat at Tehran’s Khaje Nasir Toosi University — the chant moves on from “Death to the Dictator” to “Dictator, Dictator, this is your last warning! The Green Movement is ready to rise!”

In another post, Tehran Bureau’s Saya Ovaisy explains that the song being sung in this clip, reportedly shot today at Tehran University, is somewhat akin to the American Civil Rights anthem “We Shall Overcome,” and has deep roots in Iran’s revolutionary history:

Update | 1:08 p.m. The Iranian-American Web site Tehran Bureau reports that eyewitnesses in Tehran heard these new slogans chanted on Monday:

Khamenei bedune — be zoodi sar negoone!
Khamenei should know — he is on his way out!

Nang ma, nang ma — Rahbar aldang ma!
“Our curse, our curse — our incompetent leader!

Pool naft chi shode? Kharj basiji shode!
What happened to the oil money? It was spent on the Basiji!

Update | 12:59 p.m. A reader named Kaveh writes to say that he studied at Sharif University for four years and recognizes the mural in the video embedded in our 10:17 a.m. update. He adds: “That is the southern entrance of Sharif University on the side of Azadi (Freedom) Ave. close to Azadi Square.”

Update | 12:39 p.m. My colleague Nazila Fathi has spoken to a woman in Tehran named Nasim who said that many people have reported hearing gunfire on Monday, but there is still no evidence that any protesters have been shot.

According to Nasim, “people were expecting violence today because of what happened on Nov. 4,” when opposition supporters used the occasion of annual protests commemorating the capture of the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979 to stage protests. She added:

I was shocked to see such huge crowds on the streets. It is hard to tell how many people were out today but there were very large protests almost every where in Tehran today. Enghelab Street was extremely crowded, packed by people, although all the shops were closed and the street was filled with government forces. All the shops and buildings were also already locked by government officials so that people would not be able to take refuge in them. There were large clashes in Palestine square. They turned Tehran into a military base today but there were still people out there fighting back.

Update | 12:32 p.m. According to a report from the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran:

Reform politicians Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi have been physically blocked from joining protests, and are feared under house arrest. Zahra Rahnevard, wife of Mir Hussein Moussavi, reportedly joined protesters on the campus of Tehran University.

The human rights group, which is based in New York, also reported that “Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of leading cleric and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, attended protests at the Science College of Azad University, but campus intelligence agents (herasat) detained her and moved her to the Humanities College.”

Update | 12:21 p.m. A reader points out that the Iranian blogger Mojtaba Saminejad uploaded this video to his YouTube channel, saying that it was shot at a university in the city of Tabriz on Monday:

Update | 12:15 p.m. According to my colleague Nazila Fathi, Iran’s official Fars news agency, which is close to the powerful Revolutionary Guard corps, reported on Monday that thousands of pro-government protesters staged a demonstration chanting in support of the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

That may be true, keeping in mind that Monday is one of a series of days Iran sets aside for officially-sanctioned demonstrations, but it seems clear that the country’s opposition movement did take the opportunity to use the occasion of Students Day to remind the regime that the discontent over June’s disputed election remains close to the surface. Near the end of this video, uploaded to YouTube today, students outside the front door of a university in Iran chant “Ya Hussein! Mir Hussein!” again connecting the name of opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi to one of Shia Islam’s holiest martyrs:

Fars also reported that Madjid Tavakoli, a student leader, was arrested today at Amir Kabir University in Tehran when he tried to enter the site of one demonstration dressed as a woman.

Update | 12:12 p.m. Here is an image the Iranian blogger Mojtaba Saminejad posted on TwitPic of what he says is a student protest on Monday in the Iranian city of Tabriz:

An image reportedly showing protesters at a university in the Iranian city of Tabriz on Monday.TwitPic

Update | 11:45 a.m. According to my colleague Nazila Fathi, the chant in the video we embedded this morning at 8:15 a.m. — reportedly shot during a protest at a university in Mashad — is: “Basijis, get lost!”

She adds that the Persian Web site Peykeiran reported that there were protests at the university in Kermanshah, a Kurdish city in Iran’s west.

Nazila has also been monitoring the BBC’s Persian-language Web site and notes that a student who said his name was Salar called BBC Persian from Najaf Abad University, near Isfahan, and said:

There was a protest at the university at noon today. But then the Basijis were brought in from outside and they beat up the students with chains and batons. They also intimidated students by filming the students to identify them.

The student also said that the size of the crowd at the university on Monday was was smaller than at a previous rally there last month, but was still large.

BBC Persian also reports that there were protests in the cities of Yazd, Kashan and Tabriz.

Update | 11:29 a.m. My colleague Nazila Fathi writes to say that she has noticed that several of the videos reportedly shot today and posted on the Web appear to show protesters carrying Iranian flags without the Islamic emblem added to the flag’s center after the 1979 revolution. Here is one example, in a video apparently shot at Khaje Nasir University, on Valiasr street:

According to a Wikipedia entry on the history of Iran’s flag, that emblem was added in 1980, replacing the simple tricolor which was used by the interim government that ruled in 1979 after the Shah fled into exile.

Update | 11:26 a.m. A reader of The Lede writes to say that the videos we embedded in our 10:17 a.m. update look familiar:

I am a former student of Sharif University and the two videos from that university are indeed from Sharif. First one is from Ebn-e-Sina building which is the main building and in front of University’s Basij room. The second is inside the university in front of the main gate.

Update | 11:08 a.m. My colleague Nazil Fathi points to photographs of clashes between protesters and the security forces published by Iran’s official news agency IRNA, which look like they might have been shot in the same location as the video in our previous update. Images of stone-throwing protesters may help the authorities to tarnish the image of the demonstrators.

Indeed, Reuters reports that IRNA’s report on the clashes between the security forces and demonstrators called the protesters “rioters.”

Reuters also noted that Mowjcamp, an opposition Web site, reported that “security forces shot into the air to disperse demonstrators in the Enqelab square.”

Update | 10:57 a.m. A reader draws our attention to this video, uploaded to YouTube on Monday by an anonymous video blogger who says that it was shot today in Tehran:

The reader points out that this video seems to show opposition supporters on the streets, which suggests that the demonstrations on Monday were not confined to university campuses, and says that it features this chant against the country’s supreme leader, “Khamenei ghatele, velayatash batele,” which he translates as, “Khamenei is a murderer, his rule [velayat] is null and void.”

The Iranian-American Web site Tehran Bureau reports that eyewitness in Tehran said they heard this chant on Monday: “Khamenei bedune, be zoodi sar negoone,” which means, “Khamenei should know, he is on his way out.”

Update | 10:49 a.m. This video, uploaded to YouTube on Monday by supporters of Iran’s opposition, suggests that the security forces are also documenting the protests:

According to the clip’s title, the video shows a member of the paramilitary Basij force filming students at a demonstration on Monday. In an effort to avoid identification by the authorities, many of the demonstrators in the video and photographs we have seen on the Web today were wearing masks or scarves.

Update | 10:30 a.m. As a reader points out, the Iranian-American Web site Tehran Bureau, now affiliated with PBS, is providing updates on Monday’s demonstrations across Iran. According to Tehran Bureau, Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was arrested at a university in Tehran on Monday while protesting alongside students.

As Al Jazeera reported, Mr. Rafsanjani, an opposition supporter who remains an influential cleric, criticized the crackdown on dissent in a speech to students in the northern city of Mashad on Sunday. According to an Iranian news agency, Mr. Rafsanjani said: “The situation in the country is such that constructive criticism is not accepted.” He added: “Those who demonstrate or protest must express themselves through legal means. Leaders must also respect the law.” He also called for “a climate of freedom” and criticized “extremist factions and excessive attitudes on both sides.”

Update | 10:17 a.m. There were widespread reports on Sunday that the Internet inside Iran had been slowed to a standstill to prevent opposition supporters from organizing rallies on Monday and getting evidence of today’s events on to the Web. Despite that, dozens of video clips continue to appear online. This video, uploaded to YouTube on Monday by supporters of Iran’s opposition, is said to show an indoor rally at Tehran’s Sharif University:

This video, uploaded earlier today, apparently documents a rally of Sharif University students outside on Monday:

Are any readers familiar enough with the mural visible in this video to confirm that it is on or near the campus of Sharif University?

Update | 10:01 a.m. Ahead of Monday’s demonstrations, Reuters reported that opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi said that the dispute over June’s presidential election is not over. In this video, uploaded to YouTube on Monday, protesters display a long green banner, the symbol of the opposition campaign led by Mr. Moussavi:

These three videos of protesters at a university in Tehran carrying green banners and chanting “God is great,” a slogan used by the opposition to connect their movement with the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, were posted on a YouTube channel maintained by a supporter of Iran’s opposition on Monday:

Update | 9:49 a.m. The Iranian blogger Mojtaba Saminejad points to this video, apparently shot at Khaje Nasir Toosi University of Technology in Tehran on Monday during a rally:

At the start of the clip, the students chant “Death to the Dictator!”

Update | 9:24 a.m. Jon Lyne of the BBC reports from Turkey that witnesses in Iran say that Iran’s security forces have used batons and tear gas to break up demonstrations. Mr. Lyne also says that several sources have passed on what he stresses are “unconfirmed reports of security forces using live rounds.” Mr. Lyne adds that he is “very wary of reporting this because the government has always insisted that they don’t use live rounds against protesters,” but says that “lots of different people” have passed on accounts of gunfire. While it is undoubtedly true that some protesters were shot and killed at earlier demonstrations, the ban on independent reporting by journalists in Iran makes it impossible to determine at the moment if these accounts of gunshots on Monday are accurate, or if the security forces are firing tear gas and not bullets.

If readers come across any visual evidence that appears to support these claims that bullets were fired by the security forces on Monday, please let us know.

Update | 9:04 a.m. The Iranian blogger Mojtaba Saminejad has uploaded a large number of photographs to TwitPic that appear to show Monday’s demonstrations. Here is an image he says was taken during an anti-government protest at Tehran University on Monday:


Update | 8:45 a.m. On Twitter, the Iranian blogger Omid Habibinia, who works from Switzerland, points to a live blog he is writing today for the France 24 Web site, with input from an Iranian student named Hani who reported from a protest in Tehran.

On that blog, Mr. Habibinia writes that he received the following account from Hani via mobile phone earlier today:

I’m stuck at the Talegani and Valiasr crossroads. The police and the Basij [the Iranian citizen militia] have closed both sides. The Basij are beating people with batons. There are a lot of people, certainly more than on previous student days.

They’re coming! [She starts running]. There are people at the Enghelab [Revolution] Square. And there are clashes at the Talegani and Valiasr crossroads.

They’re arresting a lot of people and leading them away, but people are trying to rescue them. We’ve just stopped a Basiji and stolen his motorbike near to Enghelab square.

The blog post also contains this video, which the bloggers say was shot on Monday at Amir Kabir University before police officers arrived to break up the demonstration there:

Original Video– More videos at TinyPic

Update | 8:35 a.m. The Iranian-American Web site Payvand explains that Students’ Day in Iran commemorates the death of three students who were killed in 1953 protesting a visit to Tehran by Richard Nixon, who was at that time America’s vice president.

Payvand notes that there is more information on the killings and the 1953 coup on the Web site of The Mossadegh Project, dedicated to the memory of Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian prime minister deposed in that coup.

Update | 8:15 a.m. Jon Leyne of the BBC, reporting from Istanbul, said in this video report that members of Iran’s opposition now working from Turkey told him that they have heard accounts of demonstrations at universities across Iran — in the cities of Shiraz, Kerman, Mashad and Isfahan — and at another large university in Tehran, Amir-Kabir.

This video was uploaded to YouTube on Monday by a supporter of Iran’s opposition who says that it was shot at a university in Mashad on Monday:

Here is video (with distorted sound) uploaded to YouTube on Monday that Iran’s opposition bloggers say was shot at Tehran’s Amir-Kabir University, where there have been other anti-government protests in recent months:

Update | 8:06 a.m. According to a witness in Tehran who spoke to Reuters, plainclothes security forces on motorcycles gathered in Tajrish square, in the north of the city on Monday.

This video was uploaded to YouTube and Facebook today by a supporter of Iran’s opposition, who says that it was shot on Monday and shows security forces on motorcycles mobilized to shut down the demonstrations:

As with all of the evidence of protests we come across online, we cannot confirm, due to severe restrictions on first-hand reporting inside Iran, the authenticity of this video, but we ask readers to help us vet these clips by letting us know if the images have previously been seen online, or if any landmarks visible in them seem to correspond to the locations in Iran where protests are reportedly taking place.

Update | 7:59 a.m. Iran’s government has banned journalists from attending Monday’s Students’ Day rallies in the country, but Reuters reports that a witness told the news agency that “Police fired tear gas at demonstrators in Vali-e Asr Square … they are clashing with protesters.”

A witness also told Reuters that “hundreds of riot police,” were “everywhere around Tehran University and nearby streets,” on Monday.

The news agency notes that “Internet connections were slow or completely down on Monday as has been the case over the past few days,” in Iran, but some opposition Web sites are still functioning. According to Reuters, the reformist website Rah-e Sabz reported that at least two female supporters of opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi were arrested as authorities shut down the mobile phone network in central Tehran to stop opposition protesters from contacting each other.

Update | 7:51 a.m. Despite restrictions on the use of the Internet inside Iran, opposition supporters have been posting video, photographs and text accounts of protests in several Iranian cities today on the Web. Iranian bloggers say that these two videos, uploaded to YouTube on Monday and apparently shot today at Tehran University, prove that the protest movement is alive, nearly six months after June’s disputed presidential election started the unrest:

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