Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Iran: Security, Information Blockade to Quell Protests

Iran: Security, Information Blockade to Quell Protests

Friday, 5 January, 2018 - 07:15
People are affected by tear gas fired by Iranian riot police to disperse protesters in Tehran on December 30. Since the protests erupted last week, the government has been blocking social media websites to disrupt the spread of information about the demonstrations/AP

As protests in Iran entered their second week on Thursday, authorities escalated their security and information blockade to quell anti-government marches, informed local sources said.

The UN Security Council is meeting on Friday to discuss Iran, after a US request for a special meeting on the protests.

Despite the official decision to ban demonstrations across the country, local sources said that sporadic protests were widespread on Thursday in the capital Tehran and other cities, including Isfahan, Baluchistan, in addition to Shiraz, Tabriz and Sananjad in the Iranian Kurdistan.

Eyewitnesses said that Special Forces intensified their presence in the center of the city of Mashhad, and particularly around government offices, while police-affiliated motorcycles were seen maneuvering in the streets.

And for the fifth consecutive day, families of detainees were seen protesting outside Tehran's Evin prison, to ask for the release of members of their families or at least, to uncover information about their fate.

Media reports indicated that the age of those detainees ranged between 15 and 25 year-old.

Lawyer and human rights activist Laila Ali Karami told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday that the Iranian Constitution admits the right of peaceful demonstrations.

“There are basic citizens rights allowing them to present their general demands through demonstrations and gatherings. It is the responsibility of security forces to guarantee the safety of those protestors instead of quelling them and considering them as enemies,” Karami said.

Separately, 59 artists and intellectuals living outside the country have signed a petition that demands the authorities to stop quelling demonstrators.

The petition also referred to the decision of cutting off the Internet and telephone lines, a decision that transforms Iran into a military country.

Commenting on events in the country, several reactions emerged Thursday at the political and military levels.

Iran's army chief Major General Abdolrahim Musavi said on Thursday that local police forces had mostly quelled the unrest.

"This blind sedition was so small that a portion of the police force was able to nip it in the bud, but you can rest assured that your comrades in the Republic's army would be ready to confront the dupes of the Great Satan (United States)," Musavi said, according to Reuters.

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