Trump's position on supporting Iran protests: No, yes and no comment

Clay Curtis
December 4, 2019

Iranian state television has acknowledged for the first time that people it describes as rioters were shot and killed during recent protests.

Iranian officials have disputed Amnesty's figures but have offered no definitive accounts of how many people have been arrested, injured or killed in the protests following the theocratic government's announcement that it would raise gas prices by 50 percent to fund handouts for the country's poor. Citing opposition groups, worldwide rights organizations and local journalists, The New York Times has reported that at least 180, and possibly 450 or more, people could have been killed during the four-day period beginning November 15.

The struggle of ordinary Iranians to make ends meet has become harder since past year when U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from Tehran's nuclear deal with six world powers and reimposed sanctions that have further crippled Iran's oil-based economy. "It's something pretty unprecedented event in the history of the human rights violations in the Islamic Republic".

The oil-rich province's Arab population has long complained of discrimination by Iran's central government and insurgent groups have targeted oil pipelines there in the past. After a monthly 60-liter quota, it costs 30,000 rials a litre.

Tehran has given no official death toll, but Amnesty International on Monday said it documented the deaths of at least 208 protesters, making the disturbances the bloodiest since the 1979 uprising that swept the Shia leaders to power.

"But America and the Zionist regime [Israel] lack political wisdom about Iran and the Iranians", said chief commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami, in another televised speech last week.

Amnesty, whose previous death toll was 161, added that the actual number of people killed was likely to have been higher.

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President Donald Trump clarified his administration's position on protestors in Iran after an answer he gave to a reporter left many with the impression that he didn't support their efforts.

Ms Mills said there was a "general environment of fear inside of Iran at the moment".

"The authorities have been threatening families, some have been forced to sign undertakings that they won't speak to the media", she said. "Families have been forced to bury their loved ones at night under heavy security presence". That's almost 24 cents a litre or 90 cents a gallon.

The Iranian UN mission in NY has said Amnesty's findings were unsubstantiated. An average gallon of regular gas in the US costs $2.58 by comparison, according to AAA. That disparity, especially given its oil wealth, fueled the anger felt by demonstrators. Daily staples also have risen in price.

Mission spokesman Alireza Miryousefi said: "A number of exile groups and media networks have either taken credit for instigating both ordinary people to protest and riots, or have encouraged lawlessness and vandalism, or both".

Iran has faced growing worldwide criticism and pressure over the security force crackdown on demonstrations that spread across at least 100 cities and towns throughout the Islamic Republic in mid-November.

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