During Hassan Rouhani’s presidency licensed political, electoral or protest rallies have never been confronted by force, Tehran’s Governor-General has maintained.
Mohammad Moghimi, who before being appointed as governor was a senior staffer at the Interior Ministry, has described his comment as “important”.
In an interview with state run Iran Labor News Agency, ILNA, Moghimi has also claimed, “In last May’s presidential election, hundreds of speeches were delivered but we had no problem at all and none of the participants or organizers of the gatherings” were subjected to any harsh treatment.
The Interior Ministry, however, usually rejects requests by independent entities, syndicates and unions for holding rallies. Practically, licenses for any sort of assembly are issued only for the institutions affiliated to the regime.
Moghimi also argued, “The reason behind holding rallies without any clashes was the fact that police and security forces behaved properly, while the organizers and participants at the assemblies complied with law and regulations”.
Meanwhile, Tehran’s governor has insisted that protest rallies in front of parliament have never led to any security problems.
Admitting that restrictions have recently been imposed for holding rallies in front of the parliament, Moghimi has said, “The restrictions were imposed after IS attacks. Nevertheless, as a security measure, we are going to find a location nearby exclusively for holding legal and licensed protest rallies”.
However, reports on protest rallies contradict Tehran’s governor.
Last September it was reported that security agents and police forces, riding motorbikes stormed into a peaceful protest rally at two industrial units in Arak. Dozens of participants in the rally, protesting unpaid salaries, were wounded and taken to hospitals.
Police and security agent’s reaction to the peaceful assembly was so heavy handed that members of parliament to write two separate letters to Moghimi’s boss, Minister of Interior and condemn the police brutality.
Furthermore, the deputy speaker of parliament, Ali Motahari, insisted on September 24, “Not only worker have a right to protest, but everyone, provided they are unarmed and not violating Islamic rules. No one should confront such protests.”
Article 27 of the Islamic Republic’s Constitution explicitly provides for freedom of assembly, "provided arms are not carried" and the assemblies "are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam".
Nonetheless, instances of police and security forces clashing with peaceful protest rallies have significantly increased in recent months.
Moreover, many workers, teachers and human rights activists have arbitrarily been placed behind bars, in some cases even without being charged.