WASHINGTON -- The United States said Tuesday (November 26) it has received nearly 20,000 messages from Iran about protests including photos and videos after appealing to demonstrators to defy restrictions on the internet.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stood at the podium in front of images of blazing streets, four days after he asked Iranians to send in information so the United States can "expose and sanction the abuses."
"We've received to date nearly 20,000 messages, videos, pictures, notes of the regime's abuses through Telegram messaging services," Pompeo told reporters, referring to the encrypted app.
"To the courageous people of Iran who refuse to stay silent about 40 years of abuses by the ruling regime, I say simply this: the United States hears you, we support you and will continue to stand with you in your struggle for a brighter future for your people and for your great nation," Pompeo said.
A shock decision to impose petrol price hikes sparked the nationwide demonstrations.
143 dead so far
At least 143 demonstrators have been killed since November 15 as the regime tries to repress protests violently, said Amnesty International Monday (November 25).
While the protests stem from the petrol price increase, the scale of the unrest points to deep-rooted economic problems -- from the debt-ridden banking sector to the outsized and opaque role of military-linked organisations in the economy.
The regime is exacerbating the economic woes of its own people by choosing to support proxy wars around the region instead of investing in its own country, say many Iranians.
Much of the public outrage centres on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and on the high proportion of government expenditures going to IRGC proxy wars abroad, particularly in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.