US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday lashed out at Iran for using “violence” and censorship to prevent memorials for those killed during the suppression of recent protests.
Taking to Twitter, Pompeo said, “The Iranian people have the right to mourn 1,500 victims slaughtered by @khamenei_ir during #IranProtests”, while directly accusing Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The Iranian people have the right to mourn 1,500 victims slaughtered by @khamenei_ir during #IranProtests. The regime fears its own citizens, and has once again resorted to violence and shutting down the internet.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) December 27, 2019
According to the Ilna news agency, internet access was effectively cut off Wednesday in multiple Iranian provinces ahead of memorials planned on social media a month after the protests.
“The regime fears its own citizens, and has once again resorted to violence and shutting down the internet,” Pompeo further said.
The massive violent protests broke out on November 15 across Iran, whose economy has suffered under sweeping sanctions from the United States, after the government abruptly hiked fuel prices.
Earlier this month, the US said that Iranian authorities may have killed more than 1,000 people in a crackdown on demonstrations in mid-November.
In his series of tweets, Pompeo cites to a much higher death toll that has already been listed by certain media outlets, as well as the exiled Mujahedin-e-Khalq, the formerly armed opposition that is fiercely critical of the regime and has cultivated close ties with the Trump administration.
Earlier in the month, President Rouhani had said that the Islamic republic “will proudly bypass sanctions” by the United States that took effect, targeting the country’s oil and financial sectors.
In September this year, Pompeo blamed Iran fro the drone attack at an oil field in Saudi Arabia which disrupted about the half of the Kingdom’s oil capacity, or 5 per cent of the daily global oil supply.
Last year, after its unilateral exit from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Washington has been piling up pressure on Tehran through a series of sanctions to force it to return to negotiations.