Iran protests by pro-democracy advocates on National Student Day were attacked by security forces on Monday. The country's Green Movement has found new ways of organizing and keeping its message alive.
Istanbul, Turkey - In Iran, riot police clashed with thousands of protesters Monday in the latest round of demonstrations, which took place despite a concerted six-month effort by Iran's security services to stamp out the opposition Green Movement.
Witnesses said that at Tehran University, just one of several flashpoints in Tehran and other cities marred by violence, police used tear gas and batons, and plainclothes agents wielded electric stun-guns against students and other demonstrators throwing stones. Protesters chanted slogans against the security forces and "Death to the dictator"; passersby were beaten with batons in alleys off the main streets.
Iran specialists say the persistence of the protests in the face of powerful counter-measures from the regime indicates that politics in Iran has irreversibly changed.
"This is not a revolution, this is the commencement of a civil rights movement," says Hamid Dabashi, a prolific historian of Iran at Columbia University in New York. (...)
While Monday's protests focused on students, they were the largest in months. Efforts by security forces to arrest student leaders did not appear to work — partly because of new organization techniques developed since June.
"Communication is all through [personal] networking — they have adjusted so that they do not make decisions as a single group," says Ali Akbar Mousavi-Khoeini, a former prominent member of Iran's strongest student organization who moved to the US earlier this year.
"They have changed to do networking activities, so that decisionmaking is not longer taking place at a top level," says Mousavi-Khoeini. "The decisionmaking process has changed to avoid having to meet and vote."