The Iranian government should respect the rights of its citizens to protest peacefully, the White House said today amidst reports of multiple protests erupting in various parts of the country.
Peaceful protests were reported from various parts of the country, in what appeared to be a sign of unrest against the economic policies of the Iranian President Hassam Rouhani.
“The world is watching,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
“There are many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with the regime’s corruption and its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad,” she said.
“The Iranian government should respect their people’s rights, including their right to express themselves,” Sanders said.
In a separate statement, the US “strongly condemned” reports of arrests of peaceful protestors.
Hundreds took to the streets of Mashhad and other cities on Thursday. An Iranian official said that 52 protestors were arrested in Mashhad.
“The United States strongly condemns the arrest of peaceful protesters. We urge all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
On June 14 this year, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified to Congress that he supports “those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.”
The Secretary today repeats his deep support for the Iranian people, his spokesperson said.
“We are following reports of multiple peaceful protests by Iranian citizens in cities across the country. Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos,” Nauert said.
“As President Trump has said, the longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are Iran’s own people,” she added.
Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher urged US President Donald Trump to back Iranian protestors.
“I call on President Trump to make clear, this new year, that a new government is his fondest wish for the Iranian people. He must offer all manner of support, moral and material, to those Iranians who aspire to a life free of religious and political tyranny,” he said.
“Eight years ago, in what we called the Green Movement, or the Persian Awakening, thousands of Iranian protesters took to the streets to call for an end to radical Islamic tyranny,” Rohrabacher said.
They were brutally suppressed, the streets running with their blood, he added.
Rohrabacher noted that the imprisoning and killing of prostestors in Iran was the “first foreign crisis” faced by the then Obama administration. He rued that the Obama administration “watched passively” the deaths.