EU urges end to Iran protest violence

An Iranian woman walk past next to a shopping centre that was burned during the protests over increasing fuel price by government in city of Shahriar, Alborz province, Iran, 20 November 2019. [Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA/EFE]

The European Union on Thursday (21 November) called on Iran to show “maximum restraint” in handling protests that have rocked the country, leaving several people dead, and urged an end to violence.

In reaction, Tehran said Europe should refrain from intervening in Iran’s affairs and instead focus on delivering promises under the 2015 nuclear deal.

Demonstrations erupted in sanctions-hit Iran on Friday, hours after the price of petrol was raised by as much as 200%, and unrest spread to scores of urban centres, with officials confirming five deaths.

A spokeswoman for the EU expressed condolences to the families of the dead and called for dialogue to resolve the tensions.

“We expect Iran’s security forces to exercise maximum restraint in handling the protests and for protesters to demonstrate peacefully. Any violence is unacceptable,” Maja Kocijancic said in a statement.

“The rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be guaranteed.”

She added that the EU expects the Iranian authorities to restore communications and end a near-total internet blackout in place since the weekend.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a statement that “instead of making interventionist remarks and defending rioters, Europe better answer for not delivering on its promises to the people of Iran”.

Amnesty International said more than 100 demonstrators were believed to have been killed, and that the real toll could be as high as 200.

Iran’s economy has been battered since May last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed sanctions.

European efforts to ensure that Iran can keep trading in spite of the sanctions have had little impact.

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