EU Australia Online - News & information from the capital of Europe direct to Australian businesses

Protest Spreads To Iran; Tunisians, Post-Revolution, Head For EU

  • February 15th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

iran-protest-2011-1.jpgGovernment 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,  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and in step with the anti-despotic movements in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere.

Bans on media coverage and exclusion from  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 “apparent restrictions placed on freedom of movement of certain members of the opposition and the protests taking place in the streets.”

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 from  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.


tunis.jpgA 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.

migration-eu-boatpeople2.JPGThe Italian government has declared an emergency situation over the sudden arrival of over 3000 new immigrants on the island of  Lampedusa, most of them being Tunisians.

Ministers complained that the European Union was being  slow to lend a hand, denied in Brussels, the European Commission  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, “Clinton praises Iran protesters”, 14.2.11., (15.2.11).

Deutsche Welle, Bonn, “Immigration:EU, Italy at odds over Tunisian asylum surge”, 14.2.11.,,14842235,00.html, (15.2.11).

Le Monde, Paris, Eric Besson : “Pas de tolérance pour l’immigration clandestine” de Tunisie, (Industry Minister: No tolerance for clandestine immigration from Tunisia), 14.2.11., (15.2.11).


Tunis –;