“Death to the dictator!” »,“The imprisoned students must be freed! », still chanted Tuesday, October 4 a small group of Iranian women filmed near the international university Reza, in the very conservative city of Mashhad. But while anti-regime demonstrations continue in some 30 universities across Iran, disturbing echoes have been ringing out since the violence that occurred this weekend at Sharif University in Tehran.
Iran’s Mehr news agency has confirmed what videos posted on the Internet raised fears: riot police used steel pellets and tear gas during the night of Sunday to Monday against students who were demonstrating in this institution, the most famous in Iran, equivalent to Polytechnic. “The students were surrounded, prevented from leaving, having to take refuge under the university parking lot. Some managed to get out and many others were arrested, hooded and taken by force into buses and taken to an unknown location. The families have not heard from their children since,” says an Iranian residing in Europe, who recently witnessed the protests in the Iranian capital.
“The headquarters of this university, which prepares future engineers, scientists, many of whom are then accepted at Harvard, MIT, etc., constitutes a turning point in the popular movement. Attacking and killing these students, this intellectual elite, is tantamount to killing the future of Iran,” believes this citizen, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Decoys to surround the demonstrators
Despite restrictions on social networks, videos find their way via VPNs, like this document showing police officers chasing students forced to rush to an underground parking lot, relayed by Iran Human Rights . “The police and the president of the university had made them believe that they could go out there, but it was a decoy to surround them and stop them”, tells our source.
In another video, published by the Oslo-based NGO, police officers are filmed leading away hooded individuals. Where are they now? “Tehran has become a detention centre”, “Evin has become a university! », chanted Monday students from Semnan University, east of the capital, as an answer to this question. Located in Tehran, Evin prison, known for its terrible conditions of incarceration, is the designated place of detention for anyone arrested in Tehran and is considered a “black hole”. Several activists and journalists, linked in particular to the coverage of the death of the young Mahsa Amini on September 16, trigger of the protest movement, are imprisoned there, according to their relatives and human rights organizations.
The phones scrutinized
The screed imposed by the regime makes it very difficult to accurately assess the number of arrests and injuries. A statement from the students says that 30 people were arrested on the night of October 2-3. The cross also got wind of the case of an individual arrested, beaten, interrogated, hooded and then released in the middle of the night.
“At each arrest, the telephones are observed with a magnifying glass, they look at everything”, specifies our Iranian interlocutor. To protect their contacts and loved ones, “more and more people are going to demonstrations without their cellphones and are organizingto block the accounts of their arrested colleagues on social networks”, add this source. A difficult balance to find between data protection and dissemination of images documenting the ongoing repression. “Unlike the crackdown on the 1999 student protests, thanks to social media, the authorities have less leeway in terms of atrocity,” he wants to believe.