The United States will impose “additional costs” on Iran for its lethal crackdown on protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, President Joe Biden announced, drawing accusations of “hypocrisy” from Iran on Tuesday.
Amini, 22, was pronounced dead on September 16, just days after the notorious morality police arrested the Iranian Kurd for allegedly violating rules requiring women to wear hijab veils and modest clothing.
Anger over his death sparked the largest wave of protests to shock Iran in nearly three years and a state crackdown that saw dozens of protesters killed and more than 1,000 arrested.
“This week, the United States will impose additional costs on perpetrators of violence against peaceful protesters,” Biden said in a statement. “We will continue to hold Iranian officials accountable and uphold the rights of Iranians to protest freely.”
Biden said he was “gravely worried” about the news of the intensification of the crackdown on protesters and said that Washington is side by side with “all Iranian citizens who are inspiring the world with their courage.”
Human rights groups expressed deep concern after Iranian riot police used tear gas and paintball guns on hundreds of students at Tehran’s Sharif University of Technology on Sunday night, with footage showing detainees being taken away with cloth hoods on them. the head.
Protests also spread to schools, with footage shared by the Kurdish rights group Hengaw showing female students demonstrating in two towns in the Kurdish native province of Amini.
READ ALSO: Iranian Supreme Leader blames US and Israel for Mahsa Amini’s protests
“Women, life, freedom,” sang the young protesters as they marched along the central strip of a busy highway in Marivan in footage the AFP has not independently verified.
The US president has given no indication of what measures he is considering against Iran, which is already subject to crippling US economic sanctions largely related to its controversial nuclear program.
Iran accused the US leader of “hypocrisy” in invoking human rights to impose new punitive measures.
– nuclear talks –
“It would have been better for Joe Biden to think a little about the human rights situation in his country before making humanitarian gestures, even if the hypocrisy does not need to be weighed,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said in a statement. Instagram post. reported by the Iranian media.
“The president of the United States should be concerned about the numerous sanctions … against the Iranian nation, the sanctions the imposition of which against any nation is a clear example of a crime against humanity,” he added.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday accused the archenemies of the United States and Israel of fomenting protests.
The riots “were organized by America and the bogus occupying Zionist regime, as well as their paid agents, with the help of some Iranian traitors abroad,” Khameni said.
The unrest overshadowed diplomatic efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the big powers that had come close to a turning point in recent months before stalling again.
But White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stressed that “problems with Iran’s behavior” are separate from efforts to revive the nuclear deal, which Washington will pursue “as long as we believe” is in the interests of national security. United States.
– ‘Not on the hijab’ –
In his first public comments on Amini’s death, 83-year-old Khamenei stressed on Monday that Iranian police must “stand up to criminals”.
Khamenei said that “some people, without evidence or investigation, have made the streets dangerous, burned the Koran, removed the hijab from veiled women and set fire to mosques and cars.”
She added that “it is not about hijab in Iran” and that “many Iranian women who do not observe hijab perfectly are among the fervent supporters of the Islamic republic”.
Iran has repeatedly been accused of external forces for fueling the protests and last week claimed nine foreign nationals, including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland, were arrested.
At least 92 protesters have been killed so far in Mahsa Amini rallies, said the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group, which worked to assess the death toll despite internet outages and blockages on WhatsApp, Instagram and other online services. .
Amnesty International previously said it had confirmed 53 dead, after the semi-official Iranian news agency Fars said last week that “about 60” people had died.
At least 12 members of the security forces have reportedly been killed since September 16.