[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."]
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
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