Reporting from Beirut – Anti-government protests surged in Iran this afternoon as college students in several cities clashed with security forces armed with clubs in the latest round of confrontations over the nation’s disputed presidential elections.
Police in Tehran shot tear-gas canisters at demonstrators, who chanted, “Death to the dictator” and set garbage bins afire. Hundreds of security forces in riot gear stood alongside streets, witnesses said.
Pro-government Basiji militiamen had been allowed to flood university campuses since early in the morning in an attempt to prevent protests from breaking out on National Students Day, an annual event commemorating a deadly demonstration 56 years ago.
As the afternoon skies turned overcast, police and plainclothes militiamen could be seen beating fleeing demonstrators and hauling them away. Yet the number of protesters heading to the streets appeared to be increasing, one independent witness said, describing a “new wave” of unrest after 3 p.m.
“Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid!” they chanted. “We are all together.”
Video footage showed students defying the crackdown, chanting increasingly radical slogans and unfurling banners of green, the color of the protest movement.
Despite the violent response, students and activists who make up the core of the protest movement showed no signs of giving up.