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Iran protest rally at student dorm turns violent

6/13/03 A student gathering held at Tehran University dormitory turned violent Thursday night and spread to the nearby streets, IRNA reported from Tehran.

Hundreds of students residing at the Tehran University hostel held a gathering at the central square of the hostel complex at the invitation of the Islamic Association of Tehran University and the Medical Sciences University.

Chancellors of the two universities attended the meeting to respond the questions posed by the students on the recent incidents in the hostel and student affairs.

Demonstrations were held at Tehran University dormitory on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in protest against a plan to privatize the universities.

The students took to the streets on Tuesday evening with certain demands which turned political when others joined them.

The demonstration lasted until late midnight and the police intervened to disperse the demonstrators.

Minister of Science and Technology unveiled a plan to privatize universities requiring the students to pay tuition fees causing dismay among the students who could not afford to.

The Constitution has envisaged free education for the public and the government is responsible for running the administration of universities and provide fund for them in addition to benefits for the students.

During Thursday night gathering, Tehran University Chancellor Reza Faraji Dana called on the students to realize the sensitive condition of the country and avoid aggravating the existing problems.

"The students should be seeking negation of violence and resolving their social problems through proper mechanisms," he said.

The gathering had not ended when about 200 students left the session and started marching towards the main gate of the complex singing a political student song called "Yar-e Dabestani (My school classmate)".

The complex guards did not let the students leave the complex so they started chanting slogans from behind the bars of the hostel.

A number of people who had gathered outside the complex started chanting slogans in support of the students inside and this caused a clash with a group known as the plainclothes outside the dormitory.

The instigations of last night and this morning spread to the nearby streets and anti-riot police was summoned to help control the situation.

The police prevented trafficking of motorcycles to the complex during the unrest which lasted for several hours, and used tear gas to disperse the people.

Different groups started throwing stones towards each other in the incidents of Thursday night and Friday morning, as a result of which a number of people were injured and window panes of several shops and houses broken.

Another report indicates that a number of students at the Shahid Beheshti University hostel also staged protests on Thursday night and Friday morning. Policemen were stationed in the area to calm down the situation.

The violence continued until Friday morning and the situation became calm early in the morning at Tehran University hostel .

No reports have been received on the number of injured or detained persons.

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