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France voices concern over arrests, casualties in Iran

January 3, 2018 at 5:00 am

French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, France on 13 June 13, 2017 [Mustafa Yalçın/Anadolu Agency]

France on Tuesday expressed concern over the “large number” of arrests and casualties during the ongoing protests in Iran, Anadolu reports.

According to a statement by the Foreign Ministry, France is “paying close attention” to the situation there.

“The right to protest is a fundamental right. So is the right to information,” it added.

In the coming weeks, France will discuss these human rights issues with the Iranian authorities, the statement said.

Thousands of Iranians hit the streets Thursday in the northeastern cities of Mashhad and Kashmar to protest rising commodity prices and perceived government mismanagement, according to local media reports.

Thursday’s protests were followed by pro-government protests Saturday.

At least 23 people have been killed and more than 500 reportedly detained in the protests, according to local media reports.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday warned Iranians against the ongoing anti-government protests.

According to a statement from the Elysee Palace, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed “his concern about the number of victims of the demonstrations” in a phone call with Rouhani.

Macron called on his Iranian counterpart “to [practice] restraint and appeasement” and said “fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and demonstration, must be respected”.

The French leader said his country supports the “strict application” of the 2015 nuclear agreement under international supervision.

Regarding the scheduled visit of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to Tehran on Friday, Macron and Rouhani “have decided by mutual agreement that the visit…would be delayed” and a new date will be fixed later.

Several countries, including the UK, the US and Canada, have expressed concern over the ongoing wave of protests.