- February 15th, 2011
- Posted by EUEditor
Government leaders in Europe and the United States have begun a close watch as the citizen demonstrations sweeping across the Middle East flare up in Iran, meeting with a violent response from police.
In Tunisia, thousands have celebrated the success of their popular resolution by getting on small boats, bound for Europe.
The protests in Iran are seen as a revival of demonstrations that contested the 2009 election of the President,Â Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and in step with the anti-despotic movements in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere.
Bans on media coverage and exclusion fromÂ the country of outside correspondents has been made up for by the export of social media images, surreptitiously recorded and transmitted from the street.
They show crowds and plain clothes men fighting, burning barricades erected in some streets, and police charging demonstrators.
The European High Representative, Catherine Ashton, responsible for international policy on behalf of the EU, said on Monday she was closely following events in Iran, notably the â€œapparent restrictions placed on freedom of movement of certain members of the opposition and the protests taking place in the streets.â€
Her statement called on the Iranian authorities to fully respect and protect the rights of citizens, including freedom of expression and the right to assemble peacefully; and said they should refrain fromÂ the use of force against peaceful demonstrators.
Baroness Ashton will be traveling to Tunisia and Egypt in the coming days, in support of a transition to democratic government, after the resignations of the Presidents of the two countries.
Her sentiments on the Iranian situation were echoed by Hilary Clinton, the American Secretary of State.
Ms Clinton said the United States, affirming human rights, firmly supported the people taking part in protests in Teheran.
A by-product of the turmoil, and the fall of the long-term Ben Ali government in Tunisia has been a surge in illegal immigration in Europe.
Where Tunisian authorities had exerted some restraint on embarkations of would-be migrants from Africa and further afield, on small boats crossing to Italy; now, thousands of Tunisians themselves have been making the trip.
The Italian government has declared an emergency situation over the sudden arrival of over 3000 new immigrants on the island ofÂ Lampedusa, most of them being Tunisians.
Ministers complained that the European Union was beingÂ slow to lend a hand, denied in Brussels, the European CommissionÂ saying it was prepared to assist, while heads of the EU border authority, Frontex, said they also could help, with stepped up patrols.
Agreements among EU member states say that they will cooperate with one another in accommodating border crossers, and Italy is asking others to come forward to take in part of the new flow.
BBC News, London, â€œClinton praises Iran protestersâ€, 14.2.11. www.bbc.co.uk, (15.2.11).
Deutsche Welle, Bonn, â€œImmigration:EU, Italy at odds over Tunisian asylum surgeâ€, 14.2.11. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,14842235,00.html, (15.2.11).
Le Monde, Paris, Eric Besson : “Pas de tolÃ©rance pour l’immigration clandestine” de Tunisie, (Industry Minister: No tolerance for clandestine immigration from Tunisia), 14.2.11. www.lemonde.fr, (15.2.11).
Tunis – McCullagh.org; pbs.org