Although officially agreeing with a government ban on all marches, thousands of Iranians demonstrated in Tehran yesterday to commemorate the storming of a Tehran student dormitory by right-wing vigilantes on 8 July 1999. In theattack dozens of students were reported to have been killed, carried out by riot police and the hard-line Ansar Hizbollah faction.
This year, students aimeded to forestall such right-wing violence by complying with the government ban, instead pouring their energy into publicising their cause and reviving a number of progressive newspapers shut down over the past years. They are also pressing for an investigation into the case of Ahmad Batebi, who became the face of the student movement after he was condemned to 15 years in prison for holding up a bloodied shirt during a protest.
Conservatives view the student movement as the greatest threat to their grip on power, and have repeatedly tried to brand them as foreign-sponsored troublemakers - a label that carries strong stigmata among the generally nationalist Iranian population.