The Iranian government has shut down nearly all internet access across the country amid mounting protests that began over a 50 percent hike in fuel prices. There are pockets of access on the ground. However, in general the connection is blocked. Phone calls abroad still work.
Iranians entitled to protest, insecurity not tolerated: President Rouhani (source):
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says his administration recognizes people’s right to hold protests against a recent government decision to ration gasoline, emphasizing, however, that nobody will be allowed to spread insecurity in the society.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Sunday, Rouhani referred to the recent protests in some Iranian cities against the government’s measure, which were at times marred with violence, saying holding protest rallies was a natural right of the people.
“After implementing this plan, we saw that some people took to the streets to protest. I believe that it is natural when the administration implements a plan and not everyone agrees to it. Some people may be opposed [to that plan] and they have the right to give voice to their opposition,” Iran’s president said.
“What the government has done was in accordance with the law…We act on the basis of the law and what we finalized was agreed upon by the heads of the three branches of the government,” he added.
On Friday, Iran began rationing gasoline and substantially increased the price of fuel, saying the revenue would be used to assist the needy.
The National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company (NIOPDC) said in a statement late Thursday that the price of a liter of regular gasoline had gone up to 15,000 rials (12.7 US cents) from 10,000 rials and the monthly ration for each private automobile was set at 60 liters per month. Additional purchases would cost 30,000 rials per liter.
The decision sparked rallies in a number of Iranian cities, some of which were marred by violence as opportunist elements tried to exploit the situation and ride the wave of peaceful protests against hiking fuel prices.
Consequently, the demonstrations turned violent in some cities, with reports of clashes between security forces and certain elements vandalizing public property.
— Press TV (@PressTV) November 17, 2019
Rouhani further emphasized that protesting is different from rioting, saying, “I tell our dear people that protesting is different from rioting. Protest is a right for all the people and they can protest…but we must not allow insecurity in the society.”
It will be unacceptable to misuse the people’s right to protest and attack banks, police stations and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting’s offices, he noted.
The Iranian chief executive added, “The government will not allow anyone at all to [create] chaos and insecurity, but all have the right to protest, speak and criticize.”
Rouhani thanked the Iranian people for the vigilance and refusal to join the small groups of rioters and plotters who vandalized public property.
He also hailed the great efforts made by the Intelligence Ministry, the police force, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Armed Forces of Iran to identify the main protagonists behind the acts of vandalism and arrest a number of them, saying that the rest of them would also be taken into custody and dealt with based on the law.
Outlining the reasons behind the government’s decision, Rouhani said that rationing gasoline and an increase in its prices would have no benefits for the government, but would rather serve the Iranian people’s interests.
The new measure, he added, would lead to a decrease in gasoline consumption and help the country maintain its self-sufficiency in producing gasoline.
On Sunday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei backed the recent government decision to ration gasoline and increase its price.
Ayatollah Khamenei said while he is not an expert in the field, he still supports the decision which has been made by the three branches of power — namely, executive, legislative and judicial.