July 9th, 2009
04:33 PM ET

An Iranian icon on today's protests

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/07/09/iran.protests.anniversary/art.tehran.protests.gi.jpg caption="There have been election protests by Iranians, such as this one on June 15."]

Reza Aslan
The Daily Beast

Thursday is the 10th anniversary of the day Iranians refer to simply as 18 Tir. On that day in 1999, a group of students who had holed up in Tehran University for six days to protest the government’s closure of a major reformist newspaper, Salaam, were savagely attacked by paramilitary forces under orders from the Revolutionary Guard.

The protests were the biggest of their kind since the fall of the shah two decades earlier—though they have been dwarfed by this past month’s protests, which have swept through the whole of the country. The university students had been emboldened by then-President Mohammad Khatami’s reform agenda to demand greater rights, including the right to peaceful assembly and a free press. However, the regime, frightened by the spectacle, saw the student movement as a threat to the stability of the state. In what has now become a familiar sight, the government unleashed the full force of its security apparatus on the students.

Early on the morning of 18 Tir—the date according to the Iranian calendar—while most of the students were asleep, Basij forces raided the dorms of Tehran University, indiscriminately beating and arresting people. In the melee, a bullet whizzed by the ear of Ahmad Batebi, a young university student, and lodged itself in the chest of his friend. Batebi took his friend’s shirt off and used it to put pressure on the wound, but to no avail. He then ran to the front of the protests and held the shirt aloft for all to see, a witness to the massacre that had just taken place.


Filed under: Iran
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Shay P

    Please keep talking/writing about Iranians protests. This is the only way we can keep the movement going from outside Iran. My heart goes out to the people of Iran. Thanks for everything you are doing and thanks to CNN...

    (BTW, I think the MJ story, although sad, is talking to much time from other much more important news...)...

    July 9, 2009 at 8:36 pm |
  2. Sarah in Toledo, OH

    I agree with the previous entry. The CNN ticker just crawed by stating 'Iranian authorities vow to quell protests.' If I had things my way, the very next ticker would read 'Protesters vow to quell Iranian Authorities.'
    Yes, your courage has won our hearts, and we Americans are with you. God bless and keep you all safe in your quest for reform.

    July 9, 2009 at 8:34 pm |
  3. Michael C. McHugh

    I try to offer what moral support I can to the people in Iran struggling against this evil regime. It's not much, but it's all I can do, being thousands of miles away from a country that we Americans are not even allowed to visit. Their courage amazes me, and I can only say God be with them.

    July 9, 2009 at 4:51 pm |