White House blasts Iran's repression of protests

White House stresses it will not remain silent as Iranian regime represses anti-government protests.

Elad Benari ,

White House
White House

The White House on Wednesday expressed concern over reports of mass arrests in Iran, saying it will not remain silent as the regime represses recent anti-government protests.

“The Trump Administration is deeply concerned by reports that the Iranian regime has imprisoned thousands of ‎Iranian citizens in the past week for engaging in peaceful protests. Further reports that the regime has tortured or killed some of these demonstrators while in detention are even more disturbing,” said a statement from the White House press secretary.

“We will not remain silent as the Iranian dictatorship represses the basic rights of its citizens and will hold Iran’s leaders accountable for any violations. The protesters in Iran are expressing legitimate grievances, including demanding an end to their government’s oppression, corruption, and waste of national resources on military adventurism.”

“Iran’s regime claims to support democracy, but when its own people express their aspirations for better lives and an end to injustice, it once again shows its true brutal nature. ‎The United States calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran, including the victims of the most recent crackdown,” concluded the statement.

The protests, fueled by economic grievances, erupted in dozens of Iranian cities on December 28. At least 21 people have died so far.

The White House statement came hours after Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said it arrested dozens on suspicion of "terrorist activities" during the recent wave of protests.

The official IRNA news agency quoted a statement from the ministry saying security forces confiscated arms and explosives from "safe houses" kept by the detainees.

Iranian leaders accuse the United States and Israel of being behind the protests.

On Tuesday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed the United States and "the Zionists" (Israel) had spent months preparing demonstrations in small towns in the hope that they would spread to the capital.

Iran's UN Ambassador, Gholamali Khoshroo, last week accused the United States of meddling in his country’s domestic affairs.

Similarly, Iran’s former president Mohammad Khatami, who is viewed as a “reformist” and a “moderate”, accused the United States of stirring unrest in the country.