Iran students accuse pro-Khamenei forces of attacking
them in riots
TEHRAN, Aug 29 (AFP) - Iran's leading pro-reform student group on Tuesday
accused troops under the control of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
of attacking them during the past few days of bloody riots in the town
The violence swirling around a meeting of the student Office to Consolidate
Unity (OCU) from Thursday to Sunday left one person dead and dozens injured
in the worst unrest in Iran in more than a year.
OCU spokesman Mehdi Manuchehri called on Khamenei to clarify his stance
regarding the forces fighting "under his banner" during the disturbances
in the western city of Khoramabad.
He told a Tehran press conference that members of the Basiji volunteer
Islamic militia and the nation's elite Revolutionary Guards corps, both
under Khamenei's direct control, had attacked students, 60 of whom he said
were now in hospital.
"We want the leader to make known his position about these violent
forces," Manuchehri said, while another OCU spokesman condemned the
"powerlessness of the police" in the face of the clashes.
One policeman was shot dead and dozens of people wounded in the four
days of troubles which began when a mob stormed Khoramabad airport to prevent
two leading liberals from addressing the OCU's annual conference.
Banks and government buildings were smashed up as Islamic hardliners
and demonstrators clashed sporadically over the four-day period, during
which students said they were beaten and pelted with bricks and stones.
The violence called up memories of last year's six-day riots which erupted
after vigilantes and police forces attacked demonstrators at Tehran university,
setting off the worst unrest in Iran in nearly 20 years.
Unconfirmed reports about the presence of "plainclothes" agents
working to provoke the violence among the student ranks in Khoramabad echoed
charges made by students in last year's incidents.
The OCU is the most prominent student organisation backing President
Mohammad Khatami, whose supporters have charged that conservatives and
hardliners occassionally instigate unrest to undermine Khatami's reforms.
The OCU was forced to cut short its Khoramabad conference and the two
liberal speakers -- Mohsen Kadivar and Abdol Karim Soroush, both reformist
critics of the clerical regime -- were forced to return to Tehran.
Brigadier General Gholamreza Soleimani of the Revolutionary Guards had
been quoted in Saturday's press warning of a "punishing response if
the rioters continue to try to create trouble in the name of reform."
Although police have brought the city under control, outbursts of violence
are still rocking the area.
State radio said "hooligans" had smashed windows of government
buildings in Khoramabad overnight while the official IRNA news agency said
the governor of Lorestan province, where Khoramabad is located, had been
beaten by a mob during Tuesday's funeral of the slain police officer.