After months of popular protests and strikes in Iran, the Iranian Regime’s Interior Ministry has set stringent protest conditions and announced new plans to allow demonstrations only in specific places, but the organizers of these gatherings will have to fulfill near “impossible” conditions before their request is approved.
Asghar Saleemi, the spokesman of the Iranian Parliament’s Councils and Internal Affairs Committee said that the only protest venue that does not require a prior legal permit is in front of the Parliament building, under the supervision of the security forces.
So let’s look at these conditions.
1) Organizers will have to gain permission from the Interior Ministry to hold a protest in one of the Regime-sanctioned locations, usually a sports stadium or public garden. This sounds reasonable until you consider that the Regime is likely to reject all requests on the basis of “national security”, a charge they often levy against protesters.
2) Organizers will have to request the presence of police, security and anti-riot units beforehand in order “to prevent disturbances.” If you live in a democratic country, you need to alert the police to your planned protest in order to have roads closed, have medical assistance on hand, etc. But in Iran, telling the police about a protest is only likely to ensure that your protest will be crushed by the brutal security forces.
3) Protesters will not be allowed to carry any weapons. Again, this sounds reasonable, until you realise that the weapons are there for defence against the security forces.
4) The gathering must not violate “the fundamental principles of Islam.” By this, the mullahs actually mean their bastardized version of Islam, which criminalizes free expression and violates human rights. Therefore, almost any protest by the people would violate those principles.
5) The protest should be held away from densely populated areas, so that it does not hinder people’s daily lives. This rather misses the point of a protest, but the Regime in fact wants to stop others from joining the protest.
Iranian MP, Ali Reza Rahimi, said on Monday that it was “good” for the Regime to specify protest locations as it would acknowledge the legitimate concerns of the Iranian people, but in reality, what all these restrictions do is to make protests meaningless.
Activists have said that these restrictions are designed to hinder protests, prevent the protests from becoming part of the nationwide anti-regime uprising, and protect the Regime from its inevitable collapse, heralded by the Iranian people.
One activist wrote on social media: “This amount to authorities telling them to go to these specific locations, so that they watch and arrest, torture and imprison them, like what happened during the protests in the past.”
One thing is certain. These new conditions show the regime’s fear and how scared it is of the protests, the protests which will lead to regime change. This means that the Iranian people must keep up their fight and human rights defenders must support them.
Regime change in Iran is the key theme of the Free Iran Gathering in Paris on June 30.