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Official bemoans harassment of journalists during student unrest

The head of a key journalists association has written separate letters to Iran's interior minister and police chief, in which he has complained of alleged harassment of journalists by vigilantes during recent on-campus unrest, IRNA reported from Tehran.

Rajab-Ali Mazrouie, the head of the Iranian Journalists Guilds Association, has called for "respecting the prestige and dignity of journalists and guaranteeing their freedom of activity at the time of various events".

"In the course of student protests over the past few days, several journalists have been beaten up by plain-clothes elements as well as unfortunately by police," he said in part of his letters, released Saturday.

"Article 5 of the Press Law recognizes gathering and publishing domestic and foreign news as a legal right, but unfortunately this important right is ignored in certain cases during some events," Mazrouie, who also represents Tehran in parliament, said.

"The damage resulting from such illegal actions leads to ignoring people's right of being kept informed of the society's events and deprives state officials from the views of informed observers," he added.

On Saturday, a student association, affiliated to volunteer Basij militia, warned 'vigilantes' against attacking students and their residences and said such raids could lead to playing to the hands of enemies.

The Collegiate Basij Association of Tarbiat-e Modarres University said in a statement 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 Iranian capital has witnessed a wave of protests since Tuesday following a peaceful gathering of students in protest to proposed privatization of universities.

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

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

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.

Washington has applauded the unrest, prompting Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi to come heavily on US and saying that American officials' statements constituted a "flagrant example of interference in Iran's internal affairs".

... Payvand News - 6/15/03 ... --

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