“Such moves will deepen our people's suspicion of the West and are not helpful to the relations between Iran and the EU,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said on Monday.
“Contacting the civil society is recognized as a foreign policy agenda as long as it is not seen as interference in (nations') internal affairs and as long as countries’ values and customs are respected, the same way that the Iranian foreign minister acts during his visits to other countries where he meets and exchanges views with civil society activists, including researchers, university professors and writers," she said, adding that Ashton's meeting with the dissident Iranian females which has taken place without prior coordination with the Iranian foreign ministry is rooted in the West's double-standard and selective political approach towards human rights issues.
Afkham said that the foreign ministry has sent an official notice to the Austrian embassy in Tehran to voice its protest in the same regard. Austria hosts the EU headquarters.
During her recent visit, Ashton and her accompanying delegation met with a number of Iranian women who were tried and convicted for their involvement in unrests following the 2009 presidential election or for harming the country's national security in other cases.
After official announcement of the election results on June 13, 2009, supporters of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's main rival Mir Hossein Moussavi - who rejected the results - took to the streets of Tehran and other cities in daily rallies.
But later, millions of Iranian people as well as the Iranian police, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Basij (mobilized volunteer) forces staged a strong presence and ended weeklong demonstrations and unrests in the capital.
Also, on December 30, 2009, pro-government rallies were staged by millions of Iranians after a group of opposition supporters - including those who took part in the post-election unrests in June - took advantage of the highly revered religious day of Ashoura on December 27 - the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hossein (AS), the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and Shiite Muslims' third Imam - to chant slogans against top Iranian government officials.
On the same day (December 27), tens of millions of Iranians were on the streets to take part in annual massive processions across the country to mark the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hossein (AS).
Clashes began after demonstrators started clapping and showing happiness, insulting the mourning people who were also in the streets to commemorate Imam Hossein's martyrdom anniversary.
In response to the Ashoura unrest, millions of Iranians took to the streets on Wednesday Dec. 30, 2009, demanding that rioters be brought to justice.
Later, Iran revealed that a number of western states had played a major role in stoking the unrests both after the presidential elections and on the Ashoura Day, singling out Britain and the US for meddling. Tehran also revealed strong evidence substantiating the interfering role of several foreign embassies and diplomats in stirring riots in Iran.
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