State Department: Victims of Iran’s government ‘will not be forgotten’
The State Department issued a stern warning to the Iranian government on Thursday, asserting that the U.S. has the power to hold individuals who censor or harm protesters accountable.
“We have ample authorities to hold accountable those who commit violence against protesters, contribute to censorship, or steal from the people of Iran,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
“To the regime’s victims, we say: You will not be forgotten.”
Foggy Bottom’s statement comes as reports of demonstrations have waned in recent days. The Associated Press noted Thursday that it is unclear whether the decrease is due to Iranian officials successfully blocking social media platforms or a true decline in the numbers of protests.
Demonstrations began last week reportedly over economic concerns but later shifted toward anti-government protests focused on Iran’s clerical rulers.
The State Department, in addition to President Trump and Vice President Pence, has voiced support for peaceful protesters. The president has said it is “time for change” in Iran and forecasted future U.S. support for the protesters “at the appropriate time.”
Iran, meanwhile, has placed the blame for the protests on the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. The nation’s public prosecutor, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, accused a former CIA official along with an individual allegedly tied to the Israeli Mossad of a scheme to begin the protests. Iran’s official state media reported Montazeri’s allegations, which claim Saudi Arabia funded the alleged plot.
“We support these legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people, and call on the government to allow the free exchange of ideas and information,” Nauert said Thursday.
“All of us should be able to enjoy the same basic economic and political freedoms, including the right to peaceful demonstration.”
At least 21 individuals have died since the protests began, according to a tally by the AP, while hundreds have been detained.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has called for emergency meetings over the demonstrations in both New York and Geneva.
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