U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday, Nov. 21, urged Iranians to send information and images “documenting the repression of the regime.”
He made the request after the internet cut imposed five days ago by the authorities, in an attempt to quell and silence the massive protests unleashed by a sharp rise in fuel prices.
“I have asked the Iranian protesters to send us their videos, photos, and information documenting the regime’s crackdown on protesters,” the senior U.S. official tweeted on Thursday in Persian and English. “The U.S. will expose and sanction the abuses,” he emphasized.
“Iran has become so unstable that the regime has shut down their entire Internet System so that the Great Iranian people cannot talk about the tremendous violence taking place within the country,” President Trump wrote earlier.
“They want ZERO transparency, thinking the world will not find out the death and tragedy that the Iranian Regime is causing!”
Dozens of dead reported
Amnesty International denounced on the basis of “credible reports” that since the protests began on Nov. 15, the number of deaths at the hands of Iranian security forces could exceed 100, although the actual figure could be much higher.
“The frequency and persistence of lethal force used against peaceful protesters in these and previous mass protests, as well as the systematic impunity for security forces who kill protesters, raise serious fears that the intentional lethal use of firearms to crush protests has become a matter of state policy,” the organization warned.
Amnesty International also agreed that the resulting information blockade was a deliberate attempt by the authorities to “prevent people from sharing images and videos of the deadly force being used by security forces.”
The opposition group National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)/Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) estimated on Friday, after eight days of protests in 165 cities, that the number of dead was more than 250, with “over 3,700 people injured and more than 7,000 demonstrators arrested.”
It should be noted that the nonprofit organization NetBlocks, which monitors both Internet outages and access around the world, called Iran’s outage “the most severe disconnection tracked by NetBlocks in any country in terms of its technical complexity and breadth,” and reported a small return of connectivity on Thursday (about 8%).
The protests that erupted over the rise and rationing of gasoline quickly broadened their focus to denounce the regime for wasting taxpayers’ incomes, CNS News described, noting that for that reason, the protesters’ targets include state-owned banks, buildings and vehicles.
Tehran declared that the “arrest of the rioters’ leaders has contributed significantly to calming the situation”, while Secretary of the Iranian Supreme Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, promised that all those identified as demonstrators would be “punished.”
Meanwhile, on Tehran streets, people complained of economic hardship. “Our income has not increased at all but costs have tripled or quadrupled,” Ehsan, a lawyer, told AFP. “If it continues as is it will be really hard to manage livings costs,” he added.
According to the Iranian authorities, increases of up to 50% in the price of fuel seek to raise $ 2.55 billion a year to grant subsidies of between $5 and $17 per month to 18 million families, at a time when the country is suffering a sharp increase in inflation and high unemployment rates, reported dw.
President Donald Trump also recently announced “maximum pressure” sanctions against Iran in an attempt to cut off funding mechanisms for its repressive forces, including the Qods and Revolutionary Guards.
Secretary Pompeo said new measures would be activated against Iran for continuing to enrich uranium used in the manufacture of atomic bombs, The Hill said.