‘Deeply concerned’: White House watching Iran ‘very closely’

by WorldTribune Staff, January 11, 2018

The White House is “deeply concerned” that Iran has arrested thousands of citizens who participated in anti-government protests and said it found “even more disturbing” reports that some of the protesters were tortured or killed.

“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 White House said in a Jan. 10 statement.

Iranian police confront anti-government protesters in Teheran on Dec. 30. / AP

The statement called for “the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran, including the victims of the most recent crackdown.”

An Iranian lawmaker said on Jan. 9 that about 3,700 people have been arrested during the protests in more than 90 cities and towns. The number cited by reformist lawmaker Mahmud Sadeghi is far higher than figures announced by Iranian authorities.

The Center for Human Rights in Iran said it has documented the deaths of three arrested protesters, the Associated Press reported on Jan. 9.

One died at Teheran’s Evin prison in what Iranian authorities said was a suicide. Another man detained in Arak, 235 kilometers southwest of the capital, also died, the center said. His family said their son’s body bore an enormous head wound “as if he had been hit with an ax,” the center said.

Iran’s judiciary acknowledged a death in Arak via its Mizan news agency, saying an unnamed detainee committed suicide.

The Center for Human Rights in Iran also alleges a third detainee died in custody in Dezful, 460 kilometers southwest of Teheran. This death had not been reported before.

The White House statement was issued after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution expressing support for “the people of Iran that are engaged in legitimate and peaceful protests against an oppressive, corrupt regime.”

The resolution, which passed by a vote of 415-to-2 late on Jan. 9, also condemned the government’s “serious human rights abuses against the Iranian people” and called on the Trump administration to issue new sanctions punishing human rights violators in Iran.

“U.S. sanctions target the oppressive, destabilizing regime, not the people of Iran,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Jan. 10 “strongly condemned” what he called the “hostile” resolution.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Jan. 9 repeated accusations that foreign countries including the United States and its allies were behind the protests.

“Once again, the nation tells the U.S., Britain, and those who seek to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran from abroad that ‘you’ve failed, and you will fail in the future, too,’ ” Khamenei said in a message on his official Twitter account.

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