The European Union said on Monday that it “hoped” that that the right to demonstrate will be “guaranteed” in Iran. For the last five days the country has been the scene of sometimes violent protests against the economic difficulties, and the regime of President Hassan Rohani.
A spokeswoman for Federica Mogherini stated, “We have monitored the demonstrations by Iranian citizens in recent days. We have been in contact with the Iranian authorities. We hope that the right to peaceful demonstration and freedom of expression will be guaranteed, following public statements by President Rohani.” The spokeswoman was writing in a communiqué, on behalf of the Head of European Diplomacy (the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy), Federica Mogherini. The spokeswoman added, “We will continue to monitor developments.”
In total, 13 individuals, including ten demonstrators and a policeman, were killed in the violence, which peppered the protests. Hundreds of individuals were arrested, including some who were subsequently freed.
President Rohani acknowledged that Iran should provide “room” for the population to express its “everyday concerns”, but he condemned both the violence and the destruction of public property. During the night of Sunday through to Monday, in Tehran and several other cities, demonstrators had attacked and, on occasions, set fire to public buildings, religious centres, banks, police cars and a number of Bassidj headquarters (the Islamic militants of the regime).
The authorities accuse “trouble-makers” and armed “counter-revolutionaries” of infiltrating the demonstrators.
Moreover, in statements reported by the Iranian media, the Secretary for the Supreme National Security Council stated that “hashtags and messages (on social networks), regarding the situation in Iran, were coming from the United States, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia,” Tehran’s main regional rival, Ali Shamkhani added, “What is happening on social media, in respect of the situation in the country, amounts to a proxy war against the Iranian people.”
The authorities have blocked Telegram and Instagram messages on mobile telephones, used as a call to arms for people to demonstrate. This has not prevented the gatherings taking place. According to local media, on Monday night, after the arrest of several people in the centre of Tehran – a city under high police surveillance – calm was, once again, restored.