http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009 ... tion=world
Reports from Iran say there have been clashes between police and anti-government demonstrators in the capital Tehran.
Foreign media have been banned from covering the protests, but there are reports of tear gas being fired and at least two people have been arrested for protesting against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Police arrested at least two women supporters of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi, a reformist website said.
"The two were wearing green ribbons (a sign of supporting Mr Mousavi) when police arrested them in front of Tehran University," the Rah-e Sabz website said.
Authorities had been expecting trouble and gathered outside Tehran University, while internet and mobile phone networks were restricted, making it harder for supporters to organise.
Activists in Turkey say the Opposition used other methods to coordinate this protest, including distributing leaflets and CDs and simple word of mouth.
Elsewhere, plain clothes members of the Government's besieged militia gathered on motorcycles ready to charge down any demonstrations.
Protests like these are now infrequent but are a sign that Iran's government has failed to completely crush dissent.
Iran police crack down on student protesters
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 00064.html
Monday, December 7, 2009; 7:31 AM
TEHRAN -- Iranian police clashed with anti-government protesters in central Tehran on Monday, witnesses said, wielding batons, firing tear gas and shooting guns into the air to disperse crowds outside Tehran University.
Witnesses said security forces also arrested some demonstrators, though few details we available.
Authorities cracked down on the "Student Day" demonstrations by warning ahead of time that such gatherings would be considered illegal and met by force. The mobile phone network -- a main mode of communication among anti-government groups -- was shut down in some parts of the capital, as were connections used by internet major providers. Satellite TV transmissions that are normally used by foreign-based, Farsi-language opposition channels, were scrambled all over the capital.
Foreign journalists were told to stay off the streets until Wednesday and not to report from the demonstration sites, and campuses were sealed off by hundreds of riot police, Revolutionary Guard forces and members of the Basij, a voluntary paramilitary arm of the guards corps.
"When we want to gather to shout slogans, they come and break us up," one witness said from the Tehran University campus. "The anti-government students are outnumbered."
The demonstrations, nearly six months after the disputed presidential elections that spawned the largest anti-government protests in Iran since 1979, marked the yearly remembrance in Iran known as National Student Day. University students commemorate three scholars killed by Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi's security forces on Dec. 7, 1953 as they protested the ouster of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh.
Until 10 years ago, the annual protests were supported by the government. But more recently they have served as a rallying point for anti-government demonstrations, usually only on campus grounds.
In an early warning that protests might turn violent, the pro-government newspaper Kayhan, which is strongly connected to Iran's security forces, published a special analysis Monday that said there was a high possibility of fatalities among the students.
"An anti-government network wants to kill students in order to use this for their propaganda," the article said.
But Mir Hussein Mousavi, a former presidential candidate representing the opposition, said in a statement released Sunday that security forces are waging a losing battle.
"You are fighting shadows on the streets, but are losing your trenches one by one in the people's conscience," he said.
The violent crackdown on demonstrators in recent months has only further antagonized the public against the government, according to members of Iran's political establishment.
Saying they fear for the nation's future, they are stepping up demands that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other top officials work out a compromise with their political opponents.
"When you attack moderates, you breed radicals," said Amir Mohebbian, a former politician who shares Ahmadinejad's ideology but is critical of his policies. "Our leaders should say to the core of the protesters: 'We are not against you.' Otherwise, our system might be in danger."
Iran police fire tear gas at protesters
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/ar ... Ut4rWbQZ0Q
(AFP) – 4 hours ago
TEHRAN — Police fired tear gas on Monday at Iranian protesters gathered in central Tehran chanting slogans against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, witnesses said, as the nation marked Students Day.
The clashes came as a group of Iranian students issued a call for mass protests against Ahmadinejad to coincide with the annual event.
"Police fired tear gas at groups of protesters chanting slogans against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Vali Asr intersection and Enghelab Street," a witness told AFP, referring to prominent locations in central Tehran.
The protesters were chanting "Death to the Dictator" and "Do not be scared. We are all together," the witness said, adding that some protesters also beat up a policeman.
AFP could not independently confirm the incidents as foreign media have been banned from covering Monday's event.
Students of Tehran's prestigious Amir Kabir University had earlier urged protests against Ahmadinejad, in an online statement.
"We are asking all people to come to universities so we can have one voice to protest at the coup d'etat," said the statement, issued by the group going under the name "Green university students of Iranian universities."
Green was the signature colour of main opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi's election campaign for the June 12 presidential poll. He lost to Ahmadinejad in what he claims was a "fraudulent" election staged to return the hardliner to power.
Since then his supporters have taken to streets in Tehran at the slightest opportunity to demonstrate against Ahmadinejad, accusing him of "stealing their votes."
Hundreds of thousands of protesters poured onto streets in the immediate aftermath of the poll and in the deadly unrest that followed dozens were killed and thousands arrested.
The defiant protests shook the pillars of the Iranian regime in what was one of its worst crises since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Around 140 top reformists, political activists, and journalists have also been brought to court in what opposition leaders claim to be "show trials."
The elite Revolutionary Guards have warned they will crack down on any attempt by regime opponents to hijack the annual Students Day, which marks the 1953 killing by the shah's security forces of three students, just months after a US-backed coup toppled popular prime minister Mohammad Mossadeq.
At Tehran's Sharif University, meanwhile, a group of students marked Students Day by staging a symbolic funeral procession in honour of the three students slain in the 1953 incident.
They shouted slogans such as "Allahu Akbar", "Death to America" and "Students will die but will not accept humiliation," Fars news agency reported.
Anticipating mass protests, hundreds of police have been deployed around Tehran University, one of the city's most politically sensitive institutions, to prevent the protests, witnesses told AFP.
"Police have also cordoned off side lanes going towards Tehran university," a witness said.
Neither Mousavi nor another opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi have issued direct calls for protests on Monday, but the former has challenged the authorities as they moved to prevent them.
"If you silence all the universities, what can you do with the situation of the society?" Mousavi asked in a statement posted on his website Kaleme.com.
He warned Iranian authorities they are "fighting with shadows in the streets," referring to protesters.
The conservative bloc of Iran's parliament, meanwhile, urged opposition figures to give up their "political obstinacy."
"... we have ample proof the reformists wanted to substitute the Islamic regime with a secular democracy" after the election, the official IRNA news agency quoted the statement as saying.
"... we recommend to the gentlemen to give up their behaviour which smells of political obstinacy."
The hardline Kayhan newspaper warned students to be cautious as the "hypocritic network (anti-revolutionary groups) want to cause casualties among the students participating in opposition gatherings and blame it on the regime."
Aside from banning the foreign media from covering Monday's events, the authorities have also cut Internet connections and blocked access to several opposition websites.
By Leyla Ferani
Published: 2:59PM GMT 08 Dec 2009
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... egime.html
Yesterday, Iranian students sent a clear message to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the opposition movement is very much alive. Despite the government’s ban on protests, students draped in the colour of the Green Movement gathered at universities across the country. They tore down posters of their president and chanted ‘death to the dictator’ in full knowledge that the Basij militia force, armed with tear gas and batons, would be waiting for them outside the University gates.
On what is traditionally an anti-US anniversary marking the killing of three university students by the shah, University Student Day has taken on new symbolism: it now marks the cruelty of the Islamic Republic. Dozens of students have been beaten, tortured and imprisoned for asking ‘Where is my vote?’ after the June elections. One student recently told me how the Revolutionary Guards stormed his university dorm and tore the thumbnail from his friend's hand, after he refused to give information on the protests.
Now, students both within Iran and on the outside are questioning the legitimacy of a violent and repressive regime. Chants against the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei show that the Green Movement is no longer a protest group in favour of the reformist opponent Mir Hossein Mousavi. Its aim now is to destabilise the regime - a cause which greatly worries the radical Muslim elite.
The Iranian government may have banned foreign journalists from reporting at rallies, restricted internet access and shut down mobile networks in an attempt to block the protests. But shaky video footage of the rallies is still making its way to YouTube. The regime knows that it’s the global dimension of these protests that have sustained them. Members of the Iranian diaspora are now blogging, twittering and facebooking for the Iranian students in Iran, while Iranians are finding ways to communicate back. Even silence holds a message; I know that something’s going to happen when Iranian facebook friends stop posting online.
In one video broadcast to the world, a group of female students join hands to sing anti-government songs. As a British-Iranian female student this is one of the most powerful and hopeful images of the protest. The Green Movement want the world to see what they are risking their lives for, and tragically they will likely face more violence before things improve.
As expected, Iranian state television decided to broadcast a roundtable debate instead of airing these revolutionary images to the Iranian people. A group of loyalist intellectuals asked: "Are Iranian students loyal to the government?" The answer was outside on the streets.
Iran powerless to stop revolution by proxy
By Alec Robinson
Posted December 8, 2009 13:50:00
Updated December 8, 2009 15:17:00
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009 ... 765153.htm
Six months on from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed election victory, reports of gunfire and beatings are still coming out of Tehran almost weekly.
In the past 24 hours there have been reports shots have been fired in Tehran, as security forces have yet again clashed with student protesters.
In an attempt to prevent the protesters from getting organised, the government has been shutting down communication lines, but it seems to be making little difference.
Before Iran's disputed elections this year, publicly criticising the leaders of the country was almost impossible, but there was a chink in the Government's armour that's now being exploited.
Despite the deliberate daily intimidation, of police vans and armed guards constantly lurking the streets, the Iranians were already perfecting ways of getting their message out.
Now that protests, violent clashes and government crackdowns are regular events, those methods are helping the young Iranians organise protests and fight on the propaganda front.
Early hints of quiet opposition
"You can find me on Facebook," a man called Mehdi told me last year. I'd met him in the desert town of Yazd in central Iran and, in the typically hospitable nature of all Persians, he'd helped me translate the Farsi writing on my bus ticket.
"I thought those [social networking] sites were banned in Iran?" I said.
"Yes, but you can still view it through a proxy site. It means the government cannot see that you are looking at a banned site."
I asked him to show me what he meant, so we went to his work and he fired up a computer.
Mehdi showed me a number of different internet sites where you view a site within the site - hiding what you're really looking at.
He even confidently typed "Iran's nuclear installation sites" into a search engine within a fake websites and up popped a satellite map of reported nuclear sites. I found out that the young Persians also use these sites to download illegal Farsi rap which is critical of the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
All over Iran, students are using these proxy websites and servers to send images of the protests to the outside world and keep in touch with one another.
Early this morning I spoke to a 21-year-old Tehran University student, Ashraf.
Ashraf confirmed the reports that the government has shut down the mobile phone network and blocked access to political sites and satellite television.
Satellite TV was already illegal in Iran, but in another daily act of defiance most rooftops have makeshift dishes propped up by bricks. Police occasionally raid homes and apartment blocks, confiscate the dishes and fine the owners, who then go out and put up a new one and keep watching.
Ashraf says the government has now found ways of blocking the satellite signals.
He says now all the channels, including BBC Persia, the US-sponsored Voice of America, and others including Arabic movie channels, just don't work any more. So the only option is to watch state-controlled media.
Songs of protest
The blocks on mobile phones and political websites have not stopped Ashraf and others like him from seeking free information online. He and others have also been editing together images of the protests and uploading them to the internet, complete with rousing Persian soundtracks.
One of these clips is set to a song called Rahe Rahayie, or Salvation Way. Loosely translated, the lyrics run: "Our country is good, the weakness of our enemy is good and it's good to lose our life for freedom."
This is exactly the kind of dissident message the Iranian government wants to shut down, but there's a problem.
While we were speaking, Ashraf showed me another way they get around the blocks on political websites. We both logged onto an online networking and file-sharing site.
"Here. Open this link," said Ashraf as he transferred me the address of a website in support of the Opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
"It's all in Farsi," I said. "What should I be looking for?"
"Nevermind. Just click on the sharing icon next to my name. Can you see it? Now select the 'share full-screen' option."
I clicked on the option and Ashraf was able to view my computer screen and navigate through the site, reading messages for Opposition supporters.
Ashraf was using my computer in Sydney to find out information about what was going on in his country, but which the Iranian government had blocked.
In July, New York-based internet expert Professor Clay Shirky told the ABC's Foreign Correspondent program that shutting down infrastructure like the internet could not be sustained by the Iranian government.
"What this class of dissidents has done is not just discomfort the government locally," he said. "It's given them a kind of political auto-immune disease in which they have to attack their own infrastructure to shut the dissent down.
"But that class of attack can't be sustained for weeks, much less months. No advanced economy can survive the wholesale shutdown of its communications function and survive over the long haul."
That prediction by Professor Shirky has proven to be the chink in Mr Ahmadinejad's armour.
By targeting the political websites the government avoids a "wholesale shutdown" of the country's internet access.
At the same time it allows the protesters to get around the bans, even if it means using a computer in Sydney to find out what's happening in Tehran.
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