Liveblog: Students' Day in Iran, Dec. 7 (16 Azar) 2010

Liveblog of Students’ Day Protests in Iran on December 7th, 2010 (16 Azar)

For an overview of the high stakes and the main players in the lead-up to today’s Students’ Day Protest, please read:

Note: All time stamps reflect the publication time, not the time of the events described.  The most recent updates are the the top.

Correction – PROTESTS AT GHAZVIN AZAD UNIVERSITY. Earlier, there were reports of widespread protests at Ghazvin Azad University, then I changed it to Ghazvin International University.

This liveblog is now closed. Here is the final update.

15:23 GMT, 6:53 PM  (Tehran): After 12 hours of blogging, it is time to call it a night, but first, let’s analyze what we’ve witnessed.

First of all, we have new protest locations.  Bu-Ali Sina University in Hamedan, Elm o San’ Univeristy in Tehran and Tabriz University have all reported protests. We’re patting ourselves on the back a bit (self congratualting?) because the BBC has validated protests in all of the locations we had previously reported protests.  The L.A. Times is also running an overview of the protests.

All in all, protests were more widespread and better covered than we expected them to be.  In fact, based on the preparedness of the regime during previous protest events, it seems that even the security forces were surprised at how vibrant resistance was today.

Reports of arrests, while disturbing, were less frequent and lower in number than previous protest events of this scale.  We’ll wait for the videos and pictures to flow to the West over the next few days, but it appears that security forces clashed less often and less violently than the last Student Day, or any of the major protests last year.

Not only that, but the major news agencies have taken notice, once again, that the Green Movement is far from dead.  This is vindication for the people struggling in the streets and the network of informants who smuggle out the news.

Look forward to more coverage… after I wake up! Azadi.

14:19 GMT, 5:49 PM  (Tehran): These are the first good pictures of the day.  The first is of Ghazvin’s International Univeristy, and the second is from Amir KAbir University.

Also, here is a new video of Amir Kabir Technical University, showing a fairly good crowd protesting in the open.

The second video is more upsetting.  It appears to show the crowd at Amir Kabir clash with security forces.  The crowd changes from jovial singing earlier to chants of Allah -o- Akbar, a clear sign of fear and tension.

13:52 GMT, 5:22 PM  (Tehran): A new video has surfaced, reportedly of students from Sharif University in Tehran.  While all of this singing has set a rather jovial mood, there are more reports of security forces harassing students.  According to a respected source, students have been taken hostage at Rasht University.  Also, according to Josh Shahryar, at least 4 students have been arrested at Amir Kabir, 4 at Tehran University, 3 at Gilan University, and 1 at Isfahan.

13:31  GMT, 5:01 PM  (Tehran): This video appears to show a sit-in at the Tehran University art facility, where students are singing “Yaare Dabestani (see below).”  None of these most recent videos have been authenticated, but they are new to all of us who have been following this for quite some time, and it is striking that all of these videos, taken at different universities, feature the same song.  It is very possible that some, or all, of these videos are from today’s protests.

Here we have a similar video, purportedly of today’s protest at Amir Kabir University.

13:02  GMT, 4:32 PM  (Tehran): I’m awake.  Here’s what we’ve been able to confirm.

Protests seem to be far more widespread than the initial non-reports suggested.  Our sources have confirmed protests in the cities of Tehran, Ghazvin and Gilan.

At Rasht Polytechnic University, there are reports of a widespread protest where security forces may have taken prisoners.  One report suggests that the security forces promised to release the prisoners if protests stopped, but that the crowd has only intensified.  We’re waiting for additional reports from there.

Reports have also come in that security remains extremely tight at Tehran University, though there are yet more reports that the internet has been cutoff there, as well as some of the other universities.

Below, we have two videos that are claiming to have been taken today.  The first is reportedly from Gilan University and the second from Ghazvin’s Azad University, where there were confirmed reports earlier of widespread protests.  In both videos, one can hear a chant of “Students Rather Die, Than To Give Into Tyranny,” and in many videos that are surfacing today one can hear the singing of “Yaare Dabestani,” a protest song from the 1979 revolution (lyrics below).

My Schoolmate – Yar-e Dabestani-e Man

My schoolmate
You’re with me and going along with me
The alphabet stick is above our heads
You’re my spite and my woe
Our names have been carved
On the body of this blackboard
The stick of injustice and tyranny
Still remains on our body

This uncivilized plain of ours

Is covered with weeds
Good, if good
Bad, if bad
Dead is the hearts of its people
My hand and yours
Should tear up these curtains
Who can, except you and I
Cure our pain?

11:06  GMT, 2:36 PM  (Tehran): There are now reports from a source in Tehran that students are gathering in large groups at Tehran University, and some students have been arrested there.

10:05  GMT, 1:35 PM  (Tehran): There are reports of tear gas being fired by Bassij forces into crowds of students at Amir Kabir university.  Also, internet has been completely shut down at Tehran University.

9:54  GMT, 1:24 PM  (Tehran): There are new reports that Amir Kabir University has been shut down by security forces.

9:48  GMT, 1:18 PM  (Tehran): We have two videos that purportedly show heavy security presence in Tehran, the first is near the gates to Tehran University and the second is near Enghelab Square.  Both videos match some of the description of the security presence on the ground, both match the level of pollution that news agencies have been talking about for days, and neither shows large-scale protests that would have likely occurred last year.

9:19  GMT, 12:49 AM (Tehran): Information from @manic77, a reliable source in the past, is coming in fast and frantic.  According to this source, helicopters can be seen hovering above Tehran University, where there are reports of plain-clothes motorcyclists in the city, as well as large groups of security personnel near the entrance to the university.  These are the first reports that we have of widespread activity in Tehran, despite the fact that they seem to be coming from the same source, for now.

There are other unconfirmed and unreliable reports of protests at other universities, but nothing concrete yet.

8:49  GMT, 12:19 AM (Tehran): My colleague Dave Siavashi (Iran News Now) has partially translated a video, purportedly of yesterday’s protest at Razi University, perhaps moments before security forces arrested two students.

Also, while we have confirmation that the protests at Ghazvin’s Azad University have been stopped by security forces, information out of Iran has been surprisingly slow.

8:21  GMT, 11:51 AM (Tehran): According to @iranproxy, the protests at Ghazvin’s Azad University have been disrupted by security forces.  This information is coming directly from inside Iran.

8:08  GMT, 11:38 AM (Tehran): According to the Rahana News Agency, two students were arrested at Razi University after yesterday’s protests.

7:33  GMT, 11:03 AM (Tehran): WE CAN CONFIRM – PROTESTS AT Ghazvin’s Azad University!

7:31  GMT, 11:01 AM (Tehran): According to @iranproxy, a reliable source in the past, protests have begun at Ghazvin’s Azad University.

Also, according to Daneshjoo News, Amirkabir University has a planned sit-in strike from 10 AM until 12:30.  There are no reports, as of yet, that this has occurred.

6:30 GMT, 10:00 AM (Tehran): No reports of protests or events inside Iran yet.  Most days, protests don;t start until midday, or even later.  In the past, however, there have been several protest events where armed police surrounded universities in order to contain violence.  It is too early to tell whether or not this has not happened, or it just hasn’t been reported yet.

I received an email from a source in Iran that was timestamped a few hours ago.  The source was complaining that attempts to send video (for today, but not taken today) have failed because the internet is so slow.  However, the source mentioned that low quality Youtube videos are still possible to upload.  We’ll find out soon enough.

5:00 GMT, 8:30 AM (Tehran):  Yesterday, former presidential candidate Mohammad Khatami gave a speech at Tehran University.  An excerpt and pictures are below.

“We should be hopeful. We should try and not be afraid of paying the price [for our goals] and of course the method that has always been advocated and our students and our reforms are committed to it, is following civic methods and avoiding and rejecting violence committed by anyone; whether by those at power or by those who may have objections and issues.

3:46 GMT, 7:16 AM (Tehran): According to a Facebook account linked closely with reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, several student groups from prominent Iranian universities and the  Council for Defending the Right to Study for Student Day have released statements.

The Council’s statement:

The Council for Defending the Right to Study by issuing a statement on the eve of the National Student Day (December 7) called this day the symbol of the fights of the noble Iranian students in the path of freedom and the symbol of the tireless efforts of students to achieve democracy. In part of this statement the council by pointing to the unjust imprisonment of the student activists stated: “Among us the families of the imprisoned starts of this ending night are the most proud, those who stood by their loved ones in enduring the price of seeking freedom by their children.”

Students of Qazvin Azad University: We will stand against tyranny:

“The students of Qazvin University, with their moving and historic gatherings during last year and also dedicating two martyrs to the nation of Iran, have repeatedly proven that “University is Alive” and the students have no fear to pay any price, even with their blood, to keep it alive.

Alameh University Student statement for National Student Day

We, the students of Alameh Tabatabaei University as the largest university specialized in social sciences in the Middle East, have a great responsibility. We see it on ourselves to defend the independent and pure social sciences. We, along with other academia, protect the university which is the impervious line of defending freedom and justice. We fight for freedom, justice and democracy along with the Iranian nation until the foundations of power and oppression will be demolished. We honor December 7, the day of resistance of the students. In our view every day is December 7 and every day is the day to fight against domestic tyranny and foreign colonialism. Now addressed to our fellow imprisoned classmates we say that we will never forget them, the memory of them gives us courage. We hope that one day we all live along side each other in a free and moral society.”

Sahand Tabriz University

In their statement, they evaluated “silence in this era” as “an unforgivable sin”. In part of their statement, the students said: “They (the government’s officials) have forgotten that this revolution and their posts are owed to the youths and students like these students today; students, who were opened fire on during Pahlavi’s government and today, just thirty years after the revolution, the students are facing the same fate in the Islamic Republic government.”

3:08 GMT, 6:38 AM (Tehran): According to the Iranian Progressive Youth, a coalition of Iranian student groups have called for global protests on December 7th in solidarity with the protesters in Iran.

Tonight, our first video shows last night’s cries of “Allah Akbar (God is Great),” a small sign of defiance that has become common place in the streets of Iran.

Also, this video is reported to show protests last night at Tehran University.  According to my colleague at Iran News Now, the protesters are chanting familiar anti-government and pro-reformist chants, and at one point break out into a song that was popular during the 1979 revolution.

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