Feb 25, 2010 11:56 am


The Los Angeles Times reports that this video showing uniformed security officials (Basiji) attacking students in the dorms was first shown on BBC in Persian.

Explosive video footage, apparently leaked to the international media, purportedly shows Iranian security officials and plainclothes Basiji militiamen pummeling students at dormitories of Tehran University in the early morning of June 15, just days after Iran's contested presidential elections. The source of the video is not yet known.

Reports at the time of the June unrest at campuses said at least five students were killed in the dormitory violence, which failed to prevent hundreds of thousands of Iranians from pouring into the streets of the capital later that day in the first of four mass demonstrations that shook the nation. Blogs, such as Enduring America, have been studiously dissecting the footage for clues and pondering reasons for the leak.

First broadcast on BBC's Persian-language satellite news channel, the footage shows silhouettes of men armed with clubs and dressed in body armor walking determinedly through the night, beating the limp bodies of students apparently dragged from their rooms.

Occasionally, a voice can be heard saying,"Don't hit them! Don't hit them!" But if it's not clear if the person is admonishing the forces not to beat the students or sarcastically egging them on.

The reputation of Iran's security forces already had been damaged by the prison scandal at Kahrizak and the vast deployment of of often brutal law enforcement agents throughout the capital during recent protests.

The emergence of the video footage appears to have put Iranian officials into damage-control mode in defending the tactics of law enforcement. An article in the hardline Fars News Agency (in Persian) insists the security forces were only defending themselves after they came under attack by students throwing Molotov cocktails.

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