Iran: Over 8000 people protest in Mashhad against inflation and the government

Local people came out onto the streets of Mashhad (Iran) recently, chanting slogans such as "The economic mafia must be exposed" and "Incompetent government, resign, resign" and wanted the Ahmadinejad government to resign. Over 200 were arrested.

Following a protest by over 8000 people in Mashhad, in northeastern Iran, over 200 people and five or six students from Ferdowsi University were arrested.

At 11am on Friday 13 June, as announced earlier, a large number of the citizens of Mashhad gathered in front of Park-e Mellat [Nation Park] near Meydan-e Azadi [Freedom Square] to protest against high prices and economic corruption. They chanted slogans like "The economic mafia must be exposed" and "Incompetent government, resign, resign" and wanted the Ahmadinejad government to resign.

During this peaceful protest units of the special guard and police - who had been present at the square with the police chief, the governor and other official of the province, for a number of hours before the protest - blocked all four streets leading to Meydan-e Azadi and stopped all traffic to the square. Despite the city council leader's pleas to the crowd to finish the protest, the protesters grew in numbers to between 8000 and 10000. At 1pm special guard agents and plain-clothes officers, accompanied by dozens of basiji [mobilisation] forces on motorbikes, fired a few overhead shots. After that they attacked the protesters with truncheons, electric shock batons and tear gas and began arresting the protesters.

According to eyewitnesses, members of the basij used chains, daggers, electric shock batons and various types of tear gas to attack the protesters. The large numbers of security force personnel present in the area gathered the arrested people in the mosque in Park-e Mellat, and, after beating them up severely, used dozens of awaiting coaches to take them away. Some witnesses said that they saw someone get shot. According to the Student Committee of Human Rights Reporters, one of those present in Park-e Mellat said he had never seen such brutality and use of force. He said: "I saw at least four women with their head and face covered in blood."

There is no information about the whereabouts of those who were arrested. Only the university authorities are aware of the arrest warrants for students that were issued by the Revolutionary Court and that students have been transferred to Mashhad's central prison.

In the evening, once the students of Ferdowsi University came to know that a large number of students from the university had been arrested, there was a protest in front of the male students' dormitory. There were over 500 students protesting and chanting "Free jailed students now" and "Cancel the punishment orders". They then moved to the student affairs office and on to the female students' dormitory.

After the female students joined the protesters the numbers reached over 1000. The Ferdowsi University authorities promised the protesters that the arrested students would be released the next day at the latest. This protest began at 8pm and went on until 11pm and finished after a statement was read. The students declared that if the jailed students were not released then they would protest again.

Translation by: Iranian Workers' Solidarity Network
30 June 2008

Source: A news report by Dastranj, 15 June 2008