Nov 20, 2019, 3:45 PM
Journalist ID: 2078
News Code: 83563034
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Protesters or rioters? That's the question!

Tehran, Nov 20, IRNA- Recent violent demonstrations in Iran that took place after the government increased petrol prices have risen the issue of what to do to prevent violence while respect people’s right to protest. 

Who is a rioter and who is a protester? That’s the question that is occupying the mind of many Iranians who are angry against the government's decision to increase petrol prices and have either taken to the streets or have stood by watching their cities burn by a group of people who could be rioters. 

Iran is now the center stage for a nationwide protest after authorities rolled out a petrol-rationing scheme and slashed subsidies in a move that sent prices soaring by 50 percent.

The move comes at a time when the nation is going through very hard economic times caused by the US coercive economic measures.

What is the talk of the town after the overnight rise in petrol prices is if demonstrators are rioters as well, a very fine line that not many have been able to walk, trading accusations.

Burnt petrol stations, houses and looted shops are the visible consequences of legitimate protests that morphed into riots over the past days. 

While the Iranian Constitution recognizes the right to protest for the country’s citizens, it allows the authorities to crack down on riots. 

Similar protests took place two years ago when the prices soared. Following those violent demonstrations, the Iranian government took a step to define certain places for protests and congregations in a bid to prevent others from using the opportunity to create riots. 

However, government approval was blocked by the Administrative Justice Court after two citizens filed complaints against it. 

The court decision was criticized by Vice President for Legal Affairs Laya Joneidi who stressed that “the right to protests and demonstrations is not respected if a certain place is not defined for people’s congregation”.

“The Administrative Justice Court thought that this is against law and canceled it,” she added. 

What’s clear is that there won’t be a proper place for people to vent out their anger against government decisions should authorities try to close their eyes on the law and channels to create safe places for demonstrations that can minimize the risk of riots and violence. 

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