DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (HPD) — Iranian students clashed with security forces at universities across Iran on Sunday, local media reported, as videos showed officers firing tear gas and live ammunition at students.
Sunday’s violence came as nationwide protests grip the country despite threats from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The head of the guard had warned young Iranians that Saturday would be the last day of the protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, which occurred on September 16 while he was in the custody of the country’s morality police.
The clashes intensified at Tehran’s Azad University, where the semi-official Iranian news agency Tasnim reported that some groups broke up a protest organized during a ceremony in memory of the victims of a deadly attack on a major Shiite temple in southern Iran. . Several students were injured in the clashes, Tasnim reported without giving further details.
Videos posted on social media allegedly showed security forces firing tear gas at students shouting slogans against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. University campuses have become the main focus of the opposition, playing a central role in the protest movement.
A video released by the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group showed a member of the Basij, the volunteer paramilitary guard force, firing a pistol at close range from where students were protesting.
The human rights group strongly condemned “the invasion of university campuses by armed forces in civilian clothes and the violent repression of peaceful student protests.”
Hardline pro-government students from several universities across the country had gathered to commemorate the deadly attack on a Shiraz mosque, which the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for, which killed 13 people, including women and children, on Wednesday. The ceremonies also drew crowds of anti-government protesters, including at Azad University.
“Freedom, freedom, freedom!” they chanted.
The Iranian government has repeatedly claimed without presenting evidence that the protests have been orchestrated by foreign powers. The demonstrations have become one of the most serious threats to Iran’s ruling clerics since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The protests first focused on the hijab, or headscarf, which is compulsory for women, but quickly turned into calls for the downfall of the Iranian theocracy itself. At least 270 people have been killed and 14,000 arrested in demonstrations that have spread to 125 cities across the country, according to Iran’s Human Rights Activists group.
Since October 24, the country’s authorities began trying the cases of at least 900 protesters accused of “corruption on the ground”, a term often used to describe attempts to overthrow the Iranian government and which carries the death penalty.