Trump condemns 'tremendous violence' against 'Great Iranian people'

Trump condemns 'tremendous violence' against 'Great Iranian people'
US President Donald Trump slammed Iran for cutting off internet access amid nationwide protests.
3 min read
22 November, 2019
The protests were sparked by a steep hike in fuel prices [AFP]
US President Donald Trump lashed out against Iran on Thursday, slamming Tehran for shutting down internet access so protesters cannot discuss the "tremendous violence taking place within the country".

"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," Trump said in a tweet. "They want ZERO transparency, thinking the world will not find out the death and tragedy that the Iranian Regime is causing!"

Trump's first public comment on the crackdown came on the seventh day of the nationwide demonstrations, which began on Friday after Tehran abruptly cut fuel subsidies.

After just one day of protests, Iran restricted nationwide internet access, rendering it near impossible for Iranians to get online.

The continuing block on internet access has made it difficult for journalists and human rights organisations to verify reports of extreme violence meted out against protesters, with Iranian officials claiming a much lower death toll than activists.

Officials have confirmed five deaths, of four security personnel and one civilian, but Amnesty International has said 106 people have died as a result of "excessive and lethal force" used to crush the demonstrations.

Tehran's United Nations spokesman Alireza Miryousefi has slammed that toll as "speculative" and part of a "disinformation campaign waged against Iran", but statements by the country's own Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) indicate reports of violence are correct.

The IRGC praised the Iranian armed forces for taking "timely" action against "rioters", ending the "incidents" within 24 to 72 hours. 

The "arrest of the rioters' leaders has contributed significantly to calming the situation," it added in a statement on the official IRGC website Sephanews.

Critics have described Trump's statement of concern over the protests as cynical, claiming Tehran's decision to raise fuel prices by 50 percent traces back to the US president's own decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal last year.

The Iranian regime's economic policies coupled with increased US sanctions have hit ordinary working and middle class Iranians the hardest, analysts say.

Internet connectivity returned to some areas of the country on Thursday, access watchdog NetBlocks said, but nationwide access remains at just 10 percent.

Major cities remain isolated and only a small number of state and private entities have access to the web, the Associated Press reported.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that "our people" the "enemy's conspiracy", which he blamed on "the Zionists and Americans".

The IRGC also claimed on Wednesday to have succeeded in "preventing rioters" from turning Tehran into "another Beirut or Baghdad", referring to the Lebanese and Iraqi capitals that have been swept by mass protests over the past month.

The official claims of an end to the protests could not be independently verified, but The New York Times reported on Thursday that hospitals across the country remained flooded with casualties, forcing doctors to cancel elective surgeries in the capital and other cities due to the influx of emergency cases.

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