President Joe Biden said Monday that the United States will place ‘further costs’ on Iran in response to the violent crackdown against ‘peaceful protestors’ in the country.
He vowed to hold the country’s religious vice squad accountable for its treatment of women and protesters.
‘The United States is also holding accountable Iranian officials and entities, such as the Morality Police, that are responsible for employing violence to suppress civil society,’ Biden said in a statement.
‘This week, the United States will be imposing further costs on perpetrators of violence against peaceful protestors. We will continue holding Iranian officials accountable and supporting the rights of Iranians to protest freely,’ he added.
Biden said he is ‘gravely concerned about reports of the intensifying violent crackdown on peaceful protestors in Iran, including students and women, who are demanding their equal rights and basic human dignity.’
‘The United States stands with Iranian women and all the citizens of Iran who are inspiring the world with their bravery.’
Protests have sparked up around the world in support of Iran – above women in Montpellier, France, show their support
In Tehran in September, dozens of people stage a demonstration to protest Mahsa Amini’s death
People run during clashes with riot police as students protest following the death of death of Mahsa Amini, in Tehran
President Biden will place ‘further costs’ on Iran in response to the violent crackdown against ‘peaceful protestors’ in the country
Widespread street demonstrations sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died following her detention by morality police for allegedly breaching the country’s strict Islamic dress code, are in their third week.
They have grown into an open challenge to the Iranian leadership, with women burning their state-mandated headscarves and chants of ‘Death to the dictator,’ echoing from streets and balconies after dark.
Biden gave no indication of what measures he was considering.
Iran is already under crippling US economic sanctions largely related to its controversial nuclear program which Tehran insists has only civilian purposes but the international community suspects is secretly aimed at building an atomic weapon.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday said the United States and Israel are fomenting the unrest.
He broke weeks of silence to condemn what he called ‘rioting’ in the streets.
Speaking to a cadre of police students in Tehran, Khamenei said he was ‘deeply heartbroken’ by the death Amini in police custody, calling it a ‘tragic incident.’
However, he lambasted the protests as a foreign plot to destabilize Iran, echoing authorities’ previous comments.
‘This rioting was planned,’ he said. ‘These riots and insecurities were designed by America and the Zionist regime, and their employees.’
On Monday, Iran shuttered its top technology university following an hours-long standoff between students and the police that turned the prestigious institution into the latest flashpoint of protests and ended with hundreds of young people arrested.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the students ‘are rightly engaged with the Iranian government’s treatment of women and girls and the ongoing violent crackdown on peaceful protests.’
‘This weekend’s crackdowns are precisely the sort of behavior that drives Iran, talented young people to leave the country, by the thousands, to seek the dignity and opportunity elsewhere,’ she said.
‘We’re alarmed and appalled by reports of security authorities, responding to university students’ peaceful protests with violence and mass arrests.’
The demonstrations have tapped a deep well of grievances in Iran, including the country´s social restrictions, political repression and ailing economy strangled by American sanctions. The unrest has continued in Tehran and far-flung provinces even as authorities have disrupted internet access and blocked social media apps.
Protests also have spread across the Middle East and to Europe and North America. Thousands poured into the streets of Los Angeles to show solidarity. Police scuffled with protesters outside Iranian embassies in London and Athens. Crowds chanted ‘Woman! Life! Freedom!’ in Paris.
Protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died following her detention by morality police for allegedly breaching the country’s strict Islamic dress code, are in their third week
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke about the protests for the first time on Monday; he called them ‘riots’ and blamed them on the United States and Israel
In his remarks on Monday, Khamenei condemned scenes of protesters ripping off their hijabs and setting fire to mosques, banks and police cars as ‘actions that are not normal, that are unnatural.’ He warned that ‘those who foment unrest to sabotage the Islamic Republic deserve harsh prosecution and punishment.’
Security forces have responded with tear gas, metal pellets and in some cases live fire, according to rights groups and widely shared footage, although the scope of the crackdown remains unclear.
Iran’s state TV has reported the death toll from violent clashes between protesters and security officers could be as high as 41. Rights groups have given higher death counts, with London-based Amnesty International saying it has identified 52 victims.
An untold number of people have been apprehended, with local officials reporting at least 1,500 arrests. Security forces have picked up artists who have voiced support for the protests and dozens of journalists. Most recently Sunday, authorities arrested Alborz Nezami, a reporter at an economic newspaper in Tehran.