EU hopes Iran’s authorities will guarantee citizens right to freedom of expression

TASS– The European Union maintains contacts with the Iranian authorities and expects the country’s citizens to be guaranteed the right to peaceful protests and freedom of expression, Catherine Ray, a Spokesperson for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said.

“We have been in touch with the Iranian authorities. We expect that the right to peaceful demonstration & freedom of expression will be guaranteed, following Psdt Rouhani’s public statements, she tweeted.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that protests and criticism are citizens’ constitutional rights, if they do not entail violence.

At least 12 people have been killed during street clashes between the protesters and the police since December 28. The protests erupted in Mashhad, Iran’s second most populous city. On Sunday, the police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters in Tehran who shouted hostile slogans against the government.

The Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported that the law enforcers had arrested nearly 400 people for taking part in the protests.

On Monday, a spokesman for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said that the police and internal security forces “fully control the situation in Tehran and other cities of Iran where street protests took place.”

Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, earlier said that “the protests had been caused by the discontent expressed by some people in Iran due to the current economic situation.” He accused the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia of meddling in the country’s internal affairs.