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IRAN - July 8 - Students, Hardliners Clash.

Police open fire on rioters as they try to end a violent clash between hundreds of pro-democracy students and hard-liners armed with rocks and chains. Rioters respond by smashing shop windows and chanting slogans against the Islamic government. They burn bundles of hard-line newspapers, chanting "death to the theological government". It is unclear how many people were injured. The day's violence begins earlier, when vigilantes attack a separate demonstration by students chanting slogans in support of reform and political freedoms. Witnesses say police did not intervene earlier. (The demonstration is called to mark the anniversary of the July 9, 1999, raid on a Tehran University dormitory. In that attack, hard-line security forces stormed the dorm and killed one person hours after students rallied against the banning of a liberal newspaper. A police chief and 19 subordinates have stood trial in connection with the raid and are awaiting verdicts. The raid triggered 6 days of protests by students - the worst unrest in the country since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Hard-liners have been trying to stem the push for reform led by Khatami. They say his attempts at broadening social and political freedoms conflict with the country's Islamic ideals.)

'IRANA' reports that in July 8's earlier demonstration outside the dormitory, police arrested a number of students, saying the gathering took place without Interior Ministry permission. It gives no other details. Students at the demonstration demand the release of Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, leader of the Islamic Students Association, who was jailed in June and still has not been charged. The clashes disrupt student plans to mark the anniversary of the raid peacefully by handing out flowers in Tehran's streets and lighting candles. Representatives of the Office for Fostering Unity, the country's largest student group, visit the homes of leading jailed reformers and give their families flowers as a gesture of solidarity.

Meanwhile, Khatami warns that oppression of opposing views does not promote power or stability and could lead to a social explosion. He is quoted as saying: "To be strong does not mean that if the people don't follow the establishment they should be suppressed by the use of force. ... Public dissatisfaction will eventually lead to explosion". In a rare public criticism of the president, hard-line theologian Mohsen Doagoo is quoted as calling Khatami's administration a "national disaster". (In the past 3 months, the conservative judiciary has closed 19 newspapers, most of them pro-reform, and has ordered the detention of political activists.)
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Jul 8, 2000
Words:408
Previous Article:IRAN - July 8 - US Criticism Ignored.
Next Article:IRAQ - July 4 - Opposition Movement Quits Alliance.
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