TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Iran’s Foreign Ministry called on the French government to refrain from using violence against unarmed protesters.
“We urge the #French Government and Police to abstain from the use of force & bare violence and abide by the law in dealing with their own people’s corporate, legal, peaceful & unarmed demonstrations,” read a tweet posted on the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s official Twitter account on Wednesday.
It came after French riot police clashed with uniformed firefighters at protests in Paris on Tuesday, in extraordinary scenes where police used batons and shields against crowds of angry fire officers in helmets.
Thousands of firefighters held a demonstration in the French capital, as part of long-running protest movement asking for better pay and conditions, including an increase in their hazard bonus which has not changed since 1990.
Some firefighters set their uniforms alight as a symbolic gesture before colleagues put out the fires. But as a group of fire officers attempted to lead their demonstration into a sidestreet, riot officers pushed them back. Teargas was fired and scuffles broke out.
Videos of the clashes went viral on social media amid growing pressure on the government over French police tactics of crowd control at demonstrations.
A number of recent videos showing what appeared to be unjustified police violence at other demonstrations have sparked outrage on social media. After scores of serious injuries from police weapons during the gilets jaunes anti-government protests last year, and complaints of heavy-handedness at pensions protests, lawyers have begun accusing the French president, Emmanuel Macron, of presiding over the most heavy-handed approach to street demonstrations in France since the protests of May 1968.
More than 200 alleged abuses related to police handling of the yellow vest protests have been signaled to the General Inspectorate of the National Police watchdog – and the media estimate there have been dozens of serious injuries among protestors, including lost eyes and at least five severed hands.
For months, the government has held firm, defending police tactics and policy but, as local elections approach this spring, Macron’s tone has begun to change.
The president warned last week that the “unacceptable behavior” of some officers risked undermining the “credibility and dignity” of the force. But he also denounced the violence of some extremist protesters, who have hurled paving stones and other projectiles at security forces during protests.