The Iranian government’s response to the anti-government protests that have swept the country in recent days demonstrates the regime’s blatant lack of respect for the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly: reports indicate that more than 20 people have been killed; at least 1000 arrested; and that at times portions of the internet and social media have been blocked.
The United States has made clear it stands with the Iranian people’s efforts to peacefully articulate their concerns over corruption and aspirations for freedom, as White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has said: “We support the right of the Iranian people to express themselves peacefully,” she said. “Their voices deserve to be heard. We encourage all parties to protect this fundamental right to peaceful expression and to avoid any actions that contribute to censorship.”
On January 4, for the second time, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert issued a statement declaring U.S. solidarity with the Iranian people.
“We continue to monitor closely the protests and violence in Iran,” she said. “The Iranian people have been expressing their desire for dignified treatment, an end to corruption, improved transparency and increased economic opportunities…Unfortunately the government continues to imprison and kill those who are brave enough to venture into the street. It is limiting the flow of information into Iran, restricting free speech, and attempting to prevent the outside world from observing its own repression.
“We support these legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people,” she continued, “and call on the government to allow the free exchange of ideas and information. All of us should be able to enjoy the same basic economic and political freedoms, including the right to peaceful demonstration. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the deaths to date and the arrests of at least one thousand Iranians.”
Ms. Nauert noted that “[w]e have ample authorities to hold accountable those who commit violence against protestors, contribute to censorship, or steal from the people of Iran.” Speaking directly to the regime’s victims, Ms. Nauert added, “You will not be forgotten.”