Iran student protests, July 1999

Iran student protests, July 1999

Iranian Student Protests of July, 1999 (Also known as 18th of Tir and Kuye Daneshgah Disaster ( _fa. فاجعه کوی دانشگاه) in Iran) (7-13 July [ [ Six days that shook Iran] BBC News 11 July, 2000 ] ) were the "worst", most widespread and violent public protests in Iran, since the early years of the Iranian Revolution. [Ebadi, Shirin, "Iran Awakening", by Shirin Ebadi with Azadeh Moaveni, Random House New York, 2006, p.149]

They began on July 8 with peaceful demonstrations in Tehran against the closure of the reformist newspaper, Salam. This was followed by an attack on a student dormitory that night by vigilantes and riot police in which a student was killed. This in turn sparked six days of demonstrations and rioting in which at least three more people were killed and more than 200 injured. [ [ Six days that shook Iran] BBC News 11 July, 2000]

Following the Iran student riots in 1999, more than seventy students disappeared. In addition, to an estimated 1,200-1,400 detained, the "whereabouts and condition" of five students named by Human Rights Watch remained unknown, but are believed to be detained by Islamic authorities. [ [ New Arrests And "Disappearances" Of Iranian Students] ]


The protests began on the eve of July 9, 1999 (18th Tir of year 1378 in the Persian calendar), after a peaceful demonstration by a group of students of Tehran University against the closure of the reformist newspaper, Salam, by the press court. Salam newspaper (Persian: روزنامه سلام) was operated by the Militant Clerics League, the reformist political party to which the then President, Mohammad Khatami belonged. The student groups, which at the time were considered one of the major supporters of Mr. Khatami and his reform programs, were protesting in support of Khatami against the closure of the newspaper by the judiciary, which was controlled by the hardline opponents of President Khatami.

The evening of the protests "about 400 plainclothes paramilitaries descended on a university dormitory, whispering into short-wave radios and wielding green sticks." The paramilitaries, thought to be Ansar-e-Hezbollah and possibly Basij attacking students, kicking down doors and smashing through halls, grabbing female students by the hair and setting fire to rooms. Several students were thrown off of third story balconies "onto pavement below, their bones crushed," and one student paralyzed. According to students' accounts, uniformed police stood by and did nothing [The armed forces, (including the police force), in Iran, is not controlled by the president or his cabinet, but by the hardline faction of the Iranian political establishment, (See Politics of Iran).] . "Witnesses reported that at least one student was killed, 300 wounded, and thousands detained in the days that followed." [Ebadi, Shirin, "Iran Awakening", by Shirin Ebadi with Azadeh Moaveni, Random House New York, 2006, p.149] The next day unrest began in earnest, spreading through Tehran and to other cities and continuing for almost a week, with unemployed youths joining the students. Basijis are reported to have disguised themselves as students (wearing jeans, T-shirts, and shaving their faces) and thrown bricks into shop windows to discredit the student demonstrators. [Molavi, Afshin, "The Soul of Iran", Norton, 2005, p.202] The five days of rioting "turned Tehran into a battlefield," and was "inarguably the worst mass disturbance" the Islamic Republican system had seen in its 20-years of existence. Running street battles left downtown Tehran "gutted," with burned-out buses, and smashed storefronts. [Ebadi, Shirin, "Iran Awakening", by Shirin Ebadi with Azadeh Moaveni, Random House New York, 2006, p.149]

There were many arrests and injuries, and at least one confirmed fatal shooting, namely that of Ezzat Ebrahim Nejad. The death of Ebrahim Nejad was the only one acknowledged by the state-controlled Iranian television, however, major student groups and the foreign media have claimed more than 17 dead during the week of violent protests.

Major Iranian cities such as Tabriz, Mashhad, Shiraz and Esfahan were scenes of violent and widespread demonstrations as well. The protests continued at Tabriz University on 11 July, 1999 (20th of Tir) and police and hardliners responded similarly in Tabriz universities and schools, entering the universities and brutally attacked students. Four students died in the unrest and many were beaten while in custody. [Molavi, Afshin, "The Soul of Iran", Norton, 2005, p.203]

According to "the Economist" magazine, the demonstrations "took a more violent turn on 13 July, when some of the students, deeply dissatisfied with the official response, tried to storm the Ministry of the Interior, the perceived seat of their troubles" [ [ Issue Paper IRAN, JULY 1999 DEMONSTRATIONS IN TEHRAN, December 2000 ] quoting "the Economist" 17 July 1999] On July 13 President Khatami issued a statement "disowning" the demonstrators, stating that continued defiance of the ban on demonstrations was "an attack on the foundations of the régime." [ [ Issue Paper IRAN, JULY 1999 DEMONSTRATIONS IN TEHRAN, December 2000 ] quoting Keesings July 1999 and AFP 13 July 1999b)]

The next day, 14 July, "Tens of thousands of supporters" of Supreme Leader Khamenei rallied in Tehran in a demonstration called by the Organization for Islamic Propagation (Keesing's July 1999). "Reports characterize the demonstration as the régime's counterattack, claiming that the demonstrators include tens of thousands government employees who have been brought to Tehran by bus" [ [ Issue Paper IRAN, JULY 1999 DEMONSTRATIONS IN TEHRAN, December 2000 ] quoting "The Iran Brief" 8 Sept. 1999; "JIRA" Nov. 1999, 22]


A crackdown on reformists and reform policies followed the riots.
*A "long-negotiated compromise" that would have weakened the Council of Guardians to screening candidates for parliament and president was vetoed, giving the guardians `absolute vetting power.`
*A `thought crime` law was passed prohibiting `any violent or peaceful act by a person or group against the regime` including speech, and punishing such criticism with stiff sentences.
*another law prohibited `any contact or exchange of information, interviews or collusion with foreign embassies, organization, parties or media at whatever level which could be judged harmful to Iran's independence, national unity or the interests of the Islamic republic.` ["The Last Great Revolution", by Robin Wright c2000, p.268-72]

As of 31 July 2006, several students involved in the demonstration were still in jail. Of those students, Akbar Mohammadi died of a hunger strike while protesting against his prison sentence. [ [] Dead link|date=March 2008] .

ee also

*Human rights in Iran
*Ahmad Batebi
*Akbar Mohammadi
*Manuchehr Mohammadi
*Evin Prison
*2nd of Khordad Movement
*Ezzat Ebrahim-Nejad

References and notes

External links

* [ BBC News' Iran student protests: Five years on]
* [ Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi's diary of July 9, 1999 (in Persian)]
* [ an interview from "Radio International" with Mansoor Hekmat, Iranian communist leader with the title of "Mass movement to overthrow the regime is starting" (in Persian)]
* [ an Interview from "Radio Hambastegi, Sweden" with Mansoor Hekmat, Iranian Communist leader on the Summer of 1999 events in Iran (sound document) ]
* [ Issue Paper, IRAN, JULY 1999 DEMONSTRATIONS IN TEHRAN, December 2000 ]

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