Saturday, 20 January, 2018

President Rouhani accepts Iranians' right to protest, calls for peace

There is a growing security presence in Iran's major cities and towns Image There is a growing security presence in Iran's major cities and towns
Charlie Simmons | 07 January, 2018, 01:30

Meanwhile, at least 200 protesters were arrested on Saturday in Tehran on charges of causing conflict and destroying property, Tehran city government security official Ali Asgar Naserbajt said.

Riot police were out in force in several cities on the sixth day of protests, which spread to the northwestern city of Tabriz, according to social media posts, as security forces scrambled to contain the boldest challenge to Iran's leadership since 2009. It was not clear if new protests were held Wednesday or if the videos showed earlier incidents.

"The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years".

The government "should not punish the guilty and the innocent alike", said Mohammad Hossein Vakili, a 20-year-old computer science student in Tehran who has struggled to find meaningful work and who joined in peaceful protests. However, they have said protest rallies are different from vandalism and violent actions.

The anti-government protests broke out on December 28 in Iran's second largest city of Mashhad, initially against price rises, and later expanded to other provinces.

Khamenei spoke publicly for the first time about the crisis on Tuesday, accusing Iran's enemies of stirring unrest but saying no more.

The protests began last week over economic concerns, reports say, but have shifted toward anti-government demonstrations focused on Iran's clerical rulers. He is seen as a pragmatist at odds with Iran's hardliners and has said in response to the protests that Iranians have a right to criticize the authorities.

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The pro-government crowds included women wearing the all-encompassing black chador, the occasional man in military fatigues and Shiite clerics wearing black turbans identifying them as descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.

"The world is watching!" he said, reposting clips of his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September.

"The President and Vice-President of the United States, in their numerous absurd tweets, incited Iranians to engage in disruptive acts", the ambassador wrote to the U.N. Security Council president and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The president came close to making such a promise in a tweet on New Year's Day that began with "Iran is failing at every level despite the awful deal made with them by the Obama Administration" and ended with the exclamation "TIME FOR CHANGE!"

The protests highlight discontent with the lack of economic progress under President Rouhani, who was first elected on a reformist platform in 2013, promising to lead Iran out of its worldwide isolation, guarantee greater freedoms and improve the economy.After Tehran and six major powers agreed on a deal to limit Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, hopes were high that an end to the sanctions would end inequality. Rouhani has dismissed Trump's criticisms, while many Iranians remain angry with the American president over his travel bans barring them from getting USA visas, as well as his refusal to re-certify the nuclear deal. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted.

She said the United States would call for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the anti-government protests. Rouhani's office did not mention the comment.

On Sunday, Iran blocked access to Instagram and the popular messaging app Telegram used by activists to organize. Some scholars and policy analysts are making an analogy between the recent wave of protests and those that occurred previously, such as the Green Movement in 2009.

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