Wed 15 January 2020:

Reports and videos on social media on Tuesday show students in several universities in Tehran continuing their protests against the regime on a fourth day with slogans against the Supreme Leader, the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij militia.

A video from Shahid Beheshti University showed pro-regime students on one side and the protesting students on the other chanting against each other. The pro-regime students were using a loudspeaker to drown the voices of the protesting students who shouted at them: “Beware, we are united!”

The protests have been much smaller than nationwide demonstrations against fuel price hikes that turned deadly in November.

But one commentator said the latest rallies showed there was a “real rift between the people and the authorities”.

“I hope that (police restraint) will continue and that no lives are lost, because this could be a catalyst for more protests,” Mehdi Rahmanian, director of reformist daily Shargh, told AFP.

In another sign of growing dissent, a group of artists cancelled their participation in the Fajr festival, held each year on the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, according to Hamshahri newspaper, which is owned by Tehran City Hall.

Meanwhile, group of reformist journalists in Tehran published a statement denouncing the lack of freedom of the press and official media.

“We are attending the burial of public trust”, said the statement, which the official IRNA news agency reported on.  

Even a key state TV personality, Elmira Sharifi, hit out at authorities on Twitter.

“At a time when you should come and give your apologies and explanations, you stay quiet! Why are you bringing us shame in front of the public?”.

Tehran had for days denied Western claims based on US intelligence that the Boeing 737 had been downed by a missile.

It came clean on Saturday when Revolutionary Guards aerospace commander Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh acknowledged a missile operator had mistaken the plane for a cruise missile and opened fire independently.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said the first arrests had been made over the air disaster, without naming them or specifying how many.

“Extensive investigations have been carried out and some people have been arrested,” he said.

Esmaili also said around 30 people had been arrested in the protests over the air disaster.

 In Art University students chanted “We are children of war, let’s fight to the end” while in Tehran University the slogans were against the state-run broadcaster and Khamenei while at Tehran Medical Sciences University the students are calling for the resignation of officials.

The students chanted that they would give their lives “to take Iran back” and called on Khamenei, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, to resign and called him a murderer. For the first time a slogan chanted by the students said they did not want a referendum or reforms. The slogan called for “strikes and revolution” instead.

The Revolutionary Guard which is under Khamenei’s direct command was responsible for downing a Ukrainian plane last week. The authorities concealed the truth from the public for three days. President Hassan Rouhani’s administration says even the president was kept in the dark for two days.

According to social media reports security forces as well as plainclothes agents are heavily present outside the university and nearby areas and prevent people from stopping or gathering or allowing the students to get out of the university campus.

The rally at Tehran University is still going on (15:00 GMT).

At around 17:00 GMT news emerged on social media about the protest at Tehran University spreading out to the street while other reports claimed students at Amir Kabir Industrial University had been locked in the campus with a group of vigilantes (Basij militia) who were beating up the students.

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