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The BBC's Alan Grady
"A sign of the hard-liners increased desperation"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran
"Right-wing vigilantes joined the riot police in clearing the demonstrators"
 real 28k

Saturday, 8 July, 2000, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Violence at Iran student protest
Pro-reform student offers flowers to a clergyman in Tehran
Students had intended it to be a peaceful protest
Pro-reform students and hard-line vigilantes have clashed outside Tehran University, on the first anniversary of a bloody raid on a dormitory which sparked nationwide unrest.

Police fired teargas at the students and the crowd retaliated by throwing stones and other debris.

Injured Iranian students
Students carry off an injured colleague attacked by vigilantes

Dozens of arrests were made, according to latest reports. Several demonstrators are reported to have been injured.

The students had been staging a protest to demand the release of political prisoners.

Reports say vigilantes took advantage of the chaos to break through police lines and attack the crowd with broken bottles.

Some students, determined to keep the day peaceful, moved off in buses to distribute flowers in the streets of the capital. Others stayed behind, although unauthorised gatherings in the streets are illegal.

Students gather round a motorcycle burnt in last year's protests
Female students beside a motorcycle burnt in last year's protests

Those who went off in buses were visiting the families of some of the prominent liberal figures currently being held behind bars for one reason or another.

They included a leading reformist lawyer, Mohsen Rahami. He was arrested 10 days ago in connection with a videotape in which a right-wing vigilante alleged that his group had the backing of various prominent public figures.

Police on trial

Mr Rahami had been arguing the students' case in court, where 20 police officers have been facing charges arising from the raid on the student dormitory on 8 July 1999.

The verdict is expected by Tuesday.

One of the students bringing charges against the police told the BBC he was extremely unhappy with the way the case had been conducted.

Demonstrations at the gate of Tehran University
Demonstrators gathered at the gate of Tehran University

The student is still suffering from injuries he received when police and hard-line vigilantes burst into his bedroom at the dormitory, beating him up and smashing his property.

He said that, in addition to their lawyer being arrested, some of the students were themselves now facing charges, instead of being regarded as victims.

The student movement had declared this a national day of non-violence and a seminar on that theme is being held at the dormitory.

Right-wing activists organised various rival events.

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See also:

29 Feb 00 | Middle East
Tehran police trial opens
23 Feb 00 | Middle East
Iran's youth: Force for change
15 Jul 99 | Middle East
Analysis: Student power in Iran
03 Jul 00 | Middle East
Country Profile: Iran
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