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Iran protests continue: Militants warned by Basijis, US condemned by Tehran

Volunteer Basij association warns 'vigilantes'

A student association, affiliated to volunteer Basij militia, has warned 'vigilantes' against attacking students and their residences and said such raids could lead to playing to the hands of enemies, IRNA reported from Tehran.

In a statement issued Saturday, the Collegiate Basij Association of Tarbiat-e Modarres University said that the attacks were orchestrated by 'a handful of unidentified individuals' following student riots in protest against possible privatization of universities.

"Such illegal actions are pursued along the lines of riots and ultimately benefit the enemies of the establishment," it said.

The association also hit out at the rioters, saying they were being incited by 'unknown hands and well-calculated suspicious currents' which, it said, sought to 'create riots by exploiting the sanctity of universities under the pretext of privatization'.

It advised that 'if some altruistic and unaware individuals, under the force of emotions, have been involved in these currents, they are asked to withdraw and not be duped by arrogant propaganda of America and Israel'.

Iranian officials have said the riots were provoked by the enemies, especially the United States which has openly encouraged them.

On Thursday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Washington was behind riots in the Islamic Republic and urged the nation and state officials to remain vigilant.

"The enemies openly support those adventurers who can become their mercenaries by disturbing people's security. Thus, the whole nation, the youth and officials in particular, must remain vigilant," the Supreme Leader told a gathering of jubilant people in Varamin, south of Tehran.

US plans to stir up unrest and tensions in the Islamic Republic reveal the enemy's weakness since Washington has confessed it is unable to directly confront Iranians, Ayatollah Khamenei said.

"If Americans had been able to eliminate the Islamic establishment, they would not have hesitated even for a day; but the enemy has realized that it cannot do anything against the valiant Iranian nation, especially the brave youth.

"Thus, it (US) openly declares that 'our strategy in confronting Iran is not a war and we have to create unrest in Iran'," Ayatollah Khamenei added.

Ayatollah Khamenei's statements came as press reported on 'illegal gatherings' held at a Tehran university hostel -- the hotbed of 1999 riots -- Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

According to the press, Tuesday unrest followed a peaceful gathering of students in protest to proposed privatization of universities.

The gathering turned ugly after a group of 'non-students' joined the rally and started chanting political slogans, the press said, adding anti-riot police had to intervene to put an end to the mayhem.

Traffic near the Amirabad student dormitory came to a standstill as the protesters, numbering several hundred, took their rally to nearby streets, media said.

Officials were quick to condemn the unrest and speculate that foreign hands were involved to incite the protests.

Intelligence Minister Ali Younessi said security officials had arrested 80 people during overnight clashes between police and protesters.

Government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh added voice to the speculation, saying that 'the government believes foreign hands could be at work to stir up riots'.

Interior Minister Abdolvahed Moussavi Lari vowed that relevant institutions would deal with 'hooliganism and illegal gatherings'.

Further gatherings were held at Tehran University dormitory on Thursday, which turned violent later and spread to the nearby streets, despite officials' announcements that there were no plans to privatize universities.

Tehran condemns US 'interference' following unrest

Iran on Saturday came heavily on US for praising recent riots in Tehran and said American officials' statements constituted a "flagrant example of interference in Iran's internal affairs, IRNA reported.

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher was cited as saying Thursday that "We applaud the Iranian people for calling attention to the destructive policies of the Iranian government, that do such a disservice to its population".

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said "these statements contradict international norms and American commitment to the Algeria Declaration".

"Selective dealing has become a typical feature of the American policy. They (US leaders) regard massive demonstrations in western countries and America itself as the result of democracy but they cite limited demonstrations in Tehran as being for democracy," he said.

Iranian leaders have already said that the demonstrations held by "a handful of individuals" were being orchestrated by Washington.

"The enemies openly support those adventurers who can become their mercenaries by disturbing people's security," Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a gathering of jubilant people in Varamin, south of Tehran Thursday.

Asefi said, "Americans ignore people's presence in millions to welcome the leader and President (Mohammad Khatami), but they call the protests of a few individuals as the voice of the people."

He was apparently referring to another part of Boucher's statements that "it's our hope that the voice of the Iranian people and their call for democracy and the rule of law will be heard".

"Such statements are not new to us and the Iranian nation's memories from American officials and the disgraceful 1953 coup are not anything different," he said, referring to the US-led coup against the popular government of Mohammad Mosaddeq to reinstate Shah.

American officials have become promoters of lies in the international scene, Asefi said.

"Denying realities and interpreting events according to their wish constitute the current American policy and American officials, by vainly making an opportunistic exploitation, are intending to divert the Iranian nation from the progress path and undermine the country's independence," he added.

Recent riots have followed a peaceful gathering of students in protest to the possible privatization of universities, which officials have denied.

Gatherings were held at Tehran University dormitory on Thursday, which turned violent later and spread to the nearby streets. Officials have blamed "non-student" elements and "mercenaries" for the unrest.


Asefi also hit out at Washington for 'insisting on its whims' with respect to Iran's nuclear energy programs.

"America's persistence is aimed at pressuring the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and influence its report," the official said in reference to a much-expected meeting of the agency's board of governors on June 16 to report on Tehran's nuclear plans.

Asefi reiterated that "Iran's nuclear programs are totally transparent and its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency will not be affected by these pressures".

Iran says its nuclear programs are transparent and peaceful, aimed at producing 7,000 megawatts of electricity in the next 20 years when the country's oil and gas reserves become overstretched.

Washington charges that the programs were a cover to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

Minister of Science says privatization of universities is not on agenda

Minister of Science, Research and Technology Mostafa Mo'in said on Saturday that privatization of universities is not on the agenda.

He rejected the idea that the demonstrations in the streets near Tehran University were in protest against privatization plans.

He said that only the demonstration within the campus had been a protest against the plan, but the others joining the protest in the streets turned it political.

Mo'in said that the students brought up their grievances during the demonstration, but, certain people exploit the students demand for political ends.

"Certain elements hired from abroad wanted to exploit the students demonstration for their own political agenda," Mo'in declared.

He said that the US is pursuing special plans in Iran, the major part of which is to create unrest in academic centers.

"The future of the country depends on the scientific progress the academic centers are making and the United States has focused on creating crisis in Iranian universities," Mo'in said.

He said that the students are expected to exercise sense of responsibility and not to allow their prestige to be damaged by certain people hired by the enemies of the nation.

... Payvand News - 6/14/03 ... --

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