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Iran protests met with beatings, tear gas as Green Movement adopts new methods

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.

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This photo, taken by someone not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, shows an anti-government Iranian female student wearing a green scarf, the symbolic color of opposition during a protest at the Tehran University campus Monday.

AP

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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.

Hard-line Iranian officials had warned they would "mercilessly" counter any attempt to hijack National Student Day — traditionally a regime-sanctioned day of anti-American protest, which commemorates the death of three students during anti-US demonstrations in 1953.

Basiji militiamen masquerading as students flooded into Tehran University and "took control of the main gate from inside," reported one source in Tehran. He said that security forces want to hit them "hard" and intimidate other potential activists prior to more significant protest dates later this month.

Scores of student leaders were arrested or expelled in the days leading up to the event, Internet service was slowed to a crawl or cut off, and foreign media were told to stay in their offices, their press cards for street reporting revoked for three days. Cellphone coverage and even pay phone lines near universities were severed.

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