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Protest Wherever You Want, As Long As Iranian Authorities Choose The Place

A spate of violent antigovernment demonstrations have rocked Iran in recent months, challenging the clerical establishment that has forbidden public dissent and has a history of cracking down harshly on unauthorized protests.

Iranian citizens have demanded that their constitutional right to hold peaceful demonstrations be upheld, after tens of thousands of Iranians marched in scores of cities and towns across the Islamic republic in December and January. The authorities crushed those protests, leaving at least 25 dead.

In a move intended to placate protesters, the government on June 11 approved a proposal by the Tehran City Council to designate 12 specific locations where authorized protests can be held in the capital. The initiative, however, is widely seen as an attempt by the government to control such protests.

The protest zones in Tehran include the Shiroudi, Dastjerdi, Takhti, Motamedi, and Azadi sports stadiums; the Goftegoo, Taleqani, Velayat, Pardisan, Honarmandan, and Shahr public parks; and an area near the parliament building in the capital's Baharestan neighborhood, according to Iran's semiofficial ISNA news agency.

The government said it was working with city councils across Iran to designate protest zones.

Article 27 of the country's constitution stipulates that citizens have the right to hold assemblies, "provided arms are not carried" and that the assemblies "are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam."

But in practice, it is almost impossible to obtain permits for protest gatherings or rallies, with authorities imposing complicated requirements.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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