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Students slaughtered in Tehran university attack

John Lyons, Tehran | June 19, 2009

Article from:  The Australian

DETAILS emerged last night of the slaughter of students at Tehran University by suspected members of the Basij militia, as defiant opposition supporters held a new rally to mourn slain protesters.

At least three men and two women were killed in the attack on their dormitory on Sunday.

The regime has attempted to cover up the killings - in which the students were believed to have been stabbed and bashed - but a public split by senior members ofthe regime triggered a rare confirmation.

Dozens of academics from the university have resigned in outrage over the incident.

The attack on the university followed the turnout of more than a million protesters that day over suspected vote-rigging in last Friday's election, which gave Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term as President.

Unconfirmed reports said scores of people had been killed or seriously injured.

At least 13 opposition supporters have been confirmed as killed since last weekend's demonstration. At least 200 are believed to have been detained without trial. Many more are missing.

The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said a dozen Iranian journalists and bloggers had been arrested and many others had gone into hiding.

Despite the crackdown, tens of thousands of supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi took to the streets last night to mourn slain protesters and maintain pressure over the disputed election.

Chanting "Peace be upon (the prophet) Mohammed and his family", the protesters, many dressed in black in a sign of mourning, marched in south Tehran and were expected to be joined by Mr Mousavi himself.

One witness said protesters carried pictures of Mr Mousavi and placards saying, "We have not had people killed to compromise and accept a doctored ballot box" and "Silent, keep calm".

Last night's rally followed a "silent" protest march on Wednesday involving thousands of people, many wearing green wrist- and head-bands in Mr Mousavi's campaign colours.

State television broadcast brief footage of Wednesday's rally, which was staged despite an official ban on such gatherings. The foreign media are barred from covering such events.

As clashes between demonstrators and police appeared to spread to cities other than Tehran, Mr Mousavi earlier told supporters: "A number of our countrymen were wounded or martyred.

"I ask the people to express their solidarity with the families by coming together in mosques and taking part in peaceful demonstrations."

When details of the university massacre emerged on the internet, the regime tried to prevent media getting access to witnesses.

The confirmation came after the Speaker of Iran's parliament, Ali Laranjani, publicly called on the Interior Ministry to conduct an inquiry into the killings.

Under Mr Laranjani's pressure, the ministry has announced an inquiry. It is almost unprecedented for such a senior figure in the government to publicly pressure another ministry, especially the powerful Interior Ministry.

In another sign of cracks within the Iranian elite, a number of influential clerics - including a dissident once tipped as a successor to revolutionary leader Ruhollah Khomeini - have spoken out about the election results and the subsequent crackdowns.

Mr Mousavi and reformist former president Mohammad Khatami, who was succeeded by Mr Ahmadinejad in 2005, issued a joint letter urging the Iranian authorities to release those arrested and halt the violence.

Fewer clashes occurred around Tehran yesterday, with the Basij apparently under orders not to intervene.

Additional reporting: AFP

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