Reporter’s Eyewitness Account
Susan Mohammadkhani Ghiasvand
Demonstrations commemorating the tenth anniversary of attacks on Tehran University campus were violently disrupted by security and police forces as well as Basij militia and plain clothes agents who attacked and beat the demonstrators.
On Thursday evening, thousands of people, many holding red roses, approached Revolution Street in Tehran for the remembrance of the events of 9 July 1999. They were met with a wall of government forces. In Revolution Square, the crowds were halted and attacked with batons and tear gas. The crowds took refuge in the surrounding side streets, looking for ways to approach the Tehran University gates. But those streets were also occupied by various security, police, Basij, and plain clothes agents who savagely beat the protestors.
The marchers were originally silent but as they came under attack they chanted AllahuAkbar (God is Great).
Three young women came under attack by plain-clothes agents using cables, and batons in front of the Iranian Students News Agency building. A number of middle-aged women who came to the defense of the young women were greeted with the most vulgar verbal attacks by the attackers, pushing them back.
The uniformed forces, who had refrained from attacking protestors in recent demonstrations, this time did not hesitate to attack people, proving that they can be as cruel and violent as the militia and plain clothes agents.
At Vali Asr, intersection and in front of the City Theatre building, people were beaten up with batons and attacked by tear gas, as well as by agents on motorcycles. A very fragile elderly woman who was crossing into the sidewalk, as she saw the beatings, urged the protestors not to be afraid. A security agent forcefully kicked her leg and sides and threw her into the ground, He hit her head with the palm of his hand and angrily yelled at her: “ Shut up or I will strangle you. Get up and get lost.”
The old woman did not have the strength to get up. People protesting these actions started to boo the agents. Agents on motorcycles started to rush into the sidewalk. The elderly women was quickly helped and removed from the scene by other protestors. Beatings of elderly persons was routine today. An elderly man was severely beaten near Revolution Square because he couldn’t walk fast as he was being told by the security forces. They threw him onto the ground, kicking and beating him. He was crying and moaning like a kitten.
A young man started to call on the agents beating the old man: “ How much did they give you to come here? A hundred dollars or two? You sold yourself just for that much? Is that what you are worth?”
As soon as he uttered those words a group of nearly thirty agents attacked him. Women started screaming, hitting back the agents with their purses and key chains to rescue the young man. The agents shortly retreated. The young man’s body was covered with blood, I couldn’t see his face clearly. The agents managed to put a beige colored plastic handcuff on him, tightening it and without caring for his injuries, dragged him into a police van.
On the eastern side of the university campus, from Ferdowsi Square to the university campus, security forces and police agents occupied the streets, preventing anyone from approaching the campus. On the western side of the campus, from Navab intersection to the campus, similarly organized groups of agents occupied the street. The central lane was also taken by the security forces, moving through on their motorcycles. Those riding behind the motorcycle drivers wielded clubs in the air and made threatening sounds. People booed them even louder. The side streets were also filled with plain clothes and security forces.
Many of the militia members were young boys under the age of eighteen, many more than in previous protests. Each of them was equipped with a baton.
As night arrived, the number of security, police, anti-riot, and Basij members increased. There were reports of a large numbers of buses hauling more agents from Karaj Freeway towards Tehran. Many vans along Azadi and Revelution streets were parked to carry detainees. There were very few ambulances, as if the injured were going to be taken directly to detention centers, rather than hospitals. Large numbers of vans equipped with water cannons were also present.
There were reports of serious clashes between protestors and government forces from all around the university. Vali Asr, Vanak, and Sadeghieh squares were also scenes of violence and clashes.
One of the interesting scenes during protests was the large number of agents equipped with cameras, photographing and taping protestors, along with those beating and attacking protestors with tear gas. Many plainclothes agents were carrying video equipment such as beta cams, dvd cams, and HDZ1. Some had their own dedicated areas cordoned off to carry out their photography and filming comfortably. Some protestors hid their faces not to be recognized but others, without any concern, stood in front of the cameras, even posing for them, smiling, holding up their V-shaped fingers. Others poked fun at the agents with cameras.