protests in Tehran's Azadi square after 2009 June presidential elections (file photo)
Shakourirad, a representative of reformist parties making the request to Interior Ministry for permit to hold demonstration on June 12th, in an interview said:The Interior Ministry is aware that the masses will come to the streets to demonstrate on the June 12th.Even they [Interior Ministry] believe that a large number of people will come to the streets on the 22nd of Khordad and that is why they have refused to issue a permit to date, and if at all, they are waiting until the last minute to do so. We believe that similar to last year on the 25th of Khordad, people will quickly realize what is going on and they will once again come to the streets. Even if the numbers are not as large as last year we have not lost anything. The reform parties announced that the demonstrations on the 22nd of Khordad (June 12th) will be silent. There will be no speakers or resolutions/statements and the demonstrators will carry banners requesting a return to the fundamentals of the Constitution and free and fair elections in silence. Despite emphasis by the reform parties that the demonstrations will be peaceful and unarmed, the Ministry of Interior has requested that the head of each party provide a notarized guarantee to that effect. A reporter from Kaleme News spoke to Ali Shakourirad, the representative introduced by the reform parties and responsible for the demonstrations who had spoken to the Ministry of Intelligence regarding this matter.
Mr. Shakourirad, the reform parties presented their requests in an 8 points
letter to the Ministry of Interior. What has been the response of the Ministry
to these requests?
The initial response by the Ministry of Interior was relatively positive in comparison to previous times. They asked that we cover a number of requirements and the reform parties provided a letter in response to those requirements that was presented to the Ministry today. However, based on the latest news provided to me, it looks as though they continue to make excuses in order to waste more time. In addition they have made further requests that the reform parties must review and respond to accordingly.
What were the supposed excuses and further requirements made by the Ministry of
The Ministry of Intelligence claimed that the objectives of the demonstrations remain unclear. They have requested that the head of each party or a fully authorized representative, personally visit the Ministry of Interior to provide a notarized record and guarantee that the demonstrations will be peaceful and unarmed. The request for permit by the Participation Front and The Mohjahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization was rejected as their license has been revoked. In addition, the request for permit by the Association of Women's Journalist was also rejected based on an incomplete election process by the Central Council.
What were the most important objections to your request?
They pointed out that Mr. Ghadyani is a member of the Mohjahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization and I am a member of the Participation Front and since both of these parties have had their licenses revoked they do not have permission to appoint representatives. This while I am a also member of the Islamic Medical Society and was Deputy to the Assembly of Former Members of Parliament for one term. I am not just a member of the Participation Front. In any event, our goal is to remove all obstacles in order to fulfill their requirements and if God willing make sure the demonstrations take place. They have also stated that the objectives of the demonstrations remain unclear.
How have you responded to these open issues?
The objective of the demonstration is to continue to protest the results of the 10th presidential elections that took place last year.
What do you believe are the chances of a positive response to your request to
Their response so far has of course been more positive than in the past. However, the recent objections are new and unprecedented. Such hurdles were never presented for any other protests that have taken place to date.
Given the recent speeches and strong attacks on the opposition at the Friday
Prayers that took place this past Khordad 14th and the coverage by government
supporting media outlets, do you believe that the Ministry of Interior will
actually issue that permit?
No. This is not the way to act when one is moving towards issuing a permit. It is a means of heeding the law. Their goal is to strongly enforce the law when it comes to the demonstrations of the 22 of Khordad (June 12th). They make legal excuses and ask us to resolve them. If we had known that they would make such excuses, we would have of course pursued measures that would not have encountered such excuses. In any event, since their objections are based on legal issues, in order to obtain a permit, we will do everything in our power to resolve them.
You have stated that they are making positive strides in paying attention to the
law, but that they are not really interested in the demonstrations taking place.
In the past year, they have failed to respond to many requests by the reform
parties for permits to demonstrate, without even referring to the law. How do
you explain their current behavior?
They [the Ministry of Interior] want that the ceremonies take place in accordance to the law. In the past they ignored our requests. This time however, they do not want to ignore us. They are trying to invoke legal matters, but that does not mean that they are open to issuing a permit for the demonstrations. They obviously don't have the intention to provide a permit.
Given the propaganda by the ruling government during the past year that the
opposition is weakening do you believe there is a possibility that a permit will
If they truly believed such a thing, they would deal with us much more leniently as such I am sure that they do not make such assumptions. In fact they themselves [the Ministry of Intelligence] believe that a large number of people will come to the streets. For this reason they have refused to issue a permit to date, and if at all, they will probably wait until the last minute to do so. We believe that the same thing will happen again as it did last year on the 25th of Khordad, when people quickly realized what was happening and came to the streets. Even if the numbers are not as large as last year, we will have not lost anything.
-- with special thanks to Negar Irani for the translation into English
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