US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged protesters in Iran to share photos and videos with him in the hope that they can be used to document and expose abuses by the government in its crackdown on protests against rising fuel prices. Pompeo also wants a justification for imposing further sanctions on Tehran.
The US official tweeted in both English and Farsi: “I have asked the Iranian protesters to send us their videos, photos, and information documenting the regime’s crackdown on protesters. The US will expose and sanction the abuses.”
I have asked the Iranian protestors to send us their videos, photos, and information documenting the regime’s crackdown on protestors. The U.S. will expose and sanction the abuses. https://t.co/korr5p0woA
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 21, 2019
Pompeo referred to the “brave Iranian protesters” who are taking part in demonstrations, which were sparked by IMF-recommended fuel price increases, in a bid to raise funds for direct subsidies for the poorest in Iranian society. However, the crippling effects of the US-imposed sanctions and “maximum pressure” policy under the Trump administration have pushed many Iranians to protest at the government move.
The US will use the material to “publicly condemn the persecution of protesters,” the senior US diplomat added. Pompeo’s request follows the gradual restoration of internet services across the capital Tehran and several other provinces; they had been shut down over security concerns.
Whilst acknowledging the rights of Iranians to protest peacefully, President Hassan Rouhani had emphasised that the state will not allow rioting and anarchy. A website linked to the government, said on Wednesday that the damage to public property in the first three days of widespread protests amounted to 23.3 trillion rials (approximately $700 million). Over 400 banks have been destroyed in rioting, in addition to petrol stations, police stations and emergency centres.
Also on Wednesday, the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council in Tehran, Ali Shamkhani, told Mehr News Agency that, “Thugs, monarchists and enemies can never interfere in the Iranian nation’s determination to achieve their goal.” According to Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Yazdi of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Friday, any move taken by its enemies against the Islamic Republic of Iran will be identified quickly and “nipped in the bud”. He highlighted the civil strife in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria as examples of “how Americans sowed the seeds of discord” in these countries.
The Iranian authorities have said that calm has been restored across the country, after Amnesty International reported that over 100 demonstrators had been killed by security forces. This figure was rejected as “speculative” by the government in Tehran.