After a group of Basij students were prevented from staging protests against the recent oil deals between Iran and foreign companies, Tehran representative in Parliament Ahmad Tavakoli challenged the arrest of protesters and called on Speaker of Parliament to secure their release.

Tavakoli made reference to yesterday’s protests while speaking in Parliament on Sunday January 31, telling the parliamentary speaker: “We expected you to make a statement about these protests in front of the Ministry of Oil and the way they were treated.”

Ahmad Tavakoli

Ahmad Tavakoli

He said while he accepts that the protests did not have the necessary permits, the new oil contracts are “highly important” and perhaps worthy of “tens of such protests”.

On Saturday Janaury 30, a group of Basij students gathered in protest in front of the oil ministry to challenge the new oil deals the administration is entering. The students were dispersed by the police and 38 people were arrested.

Tavakoli reported that 34 of them have been released and he demanded the immediate release of the other four.

Speaker Ali Larijani responded to Tavakoli’s statement, saying that everything should be done through legal channels and protests against provisions of the oil deals cannot be resolved through demonstrations.

He also added that expert reports regarding the new oil deals are being sent to Parliament’s Implementation Committee and will be reviewed as such.

The new oil agreements, referred to as Iran Petroleum Contracts (IPC), have been challenged by opponents of the Rohani administration as a threat to the country’s national interests. The administration dismisses the criticisms and says its priority is to attract foreign investment.

The new contracts allow foreign contractors to bid on production contracts and development projects as long as they have an Iranian partner.