Trump condemns Iranian regime after seven days of deadly protests

Internet connectivity restored in some areas but most parts of Tehran and other major cities still cut off

Negar Mortazavi
Washington
Friday 22 November 2019 00:20
Comments
Iranian protesters block a road during protests in the central city of Isfahan on Saturday
Iranian protesters block a road during protests in the central city of Isfahan on Saturday

Donald Trump has condemned the “death and tragedy that the Iranian Regime is causing” and the European Union has called for restraint from the country’s authorities.

After the seventh day of deadly protests came to an end in Iran, Mr Trump finally tweeted about the unrest in the middle of a day of explosive impeachment hearings at the US Congress.

“Iran has become so unstable that the regime has shut down their entire Internet System so that the Great Iranian people cannot talk about the tremendous violence taking place within the country,” Mr Trump tweeted. “They want ZERO transparency, thinking the world will not find out the death and tragedy that the Iranian Regime is causing!”

Critics had been calling out the US president for not paying attention or caring about the protests in Iran that were ignited by a sudden hike in fuel prices last Thursday.

“President Trump’s tweet in support of the protests in Iran is utterly cynical,” Peyman Jafari, a historian of Iran at Princeton University, told The Independent. “The reality is that millions of Iranians are being crushed between a repressive state that has fostered corruption and inequality, and the American administration that has devastated their livelihoods with draconic sanctions.”

Mr Jafari argued that for instance, inflation has always been relatively high in Iran, but if you look at its trajectory in the last few years, “it started to crawl towards 50 per cent from May 2018” when Mr Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

The EU has expressed concerns about the high level of violence and called on Iran’s security forces to exercise maximum restraint and the protesters to demonstrate peacefully.

The EU’s statement also emphasised that the rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be guaranteed and urged Iranian authorities to ensure the free flow of information and access to the internet.

Amnesty International has reported that at least 106 people were killed in more than 20 cities across the country, and unconfirmed reports have put the death toll even higher.

At least three members of the security forces have been killed by protesters, Iranian state media have reported.​

Amin Bozorgian, an Iranian sociologist based in France, said the protests are more widespread across Iran because people are more miserable now.

“Neoliberal economic policies of the Iranian government combined with economic sanctions have pressured the middle and low income classes more than anyone,” he told The Independent.

Mr Bozorgian explained that upper income groups can endure these economic pressures to some extent and transfer them to the less advantaged members of society.

New wave of demonstrations erupt in Iran

Internet connectivity was restored in some areas in the south and east of Iran, and the rest of the country would slowly be re-connected, authorities said.

Most areas in Tehran and some other major cities continue to be cut off from the internet and only a small number of government and private entities as well as state media and some journalists have access to the worldwide network.

It has been estimated that internet shut down cost $60m (£46m) per day in damages to the economy.

A group of Iranian students abroad have contacted their universities and asked them to extend application deadlines for prospective students from Iran who have been cut off from the internet for days.

The prestigious McGill University in Montreal, Canada, has already announced they have extended their deadline and will continue to monitor the situation in Iran.

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