President Donald Trump in an early morning Twitter post on Sunday called on Iranian leaders to halt a crackdown on protesters.
“To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free!” Trump wrote.
He then urged Iran’s leadership to “stop the killing of your great Iranian people!” His message came about a day after he wrote a post in Farsi expressing support for the protesters who demonstrated in Tehran after the regime announced it was responsible for downing the Ukrainian Airlines jetliner that killed 176 people earlier this week.
“To the brave and suffering Iranian people: I have stood with you since the beginning of my presidency and my government will continue to stand with you,” Trump also said on Saturday. “We are following your protests closely,” he added. “Your courage is inspiring.”
To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2020
Iran also must allow human rights organizations inside the country to monitor and report on the facts on the ground as Iranian authorities crack down, he wrote.
Over the weekend, Iran arrested Britain’s envoy to Tehran, Rob Macaire, and according to state-run media, he was accused of “provoking suspicious acts in a gathering held in front of Tehran Amir Kabir University.”
But in a statement, Macarie wrote that he was not involved in any demonstrations. “Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy. Normal to want to pay respects- some of victims were British. I left after 5 mins, when some started chanting,” he wrote on Twitter.
His boss, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, condemned Macaire’s arrest as a “flagrant violation of international law” and noted that Iran was heading towards “pariah status,” The Guardian reported.
The unrest was triggered after Iranian officials denied shooting down the plane for several days before making the stunning admission that it was, in fact, accidentally responsible for the disaster, according to reports in state media on Saturday.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also blamed the United States and wrote that “human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster.”
The downing of the plane came hours after Tehran fired more than a dozen missiles at American troops in Iraq after the United States carried out a drone strike that killed Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.
The victims of the downed plane include 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three UK nationals.
Iranian military officials also claimed that American military flights increased around Iran’s borders after it launched the missiles into Iraq.
“The aircraft came close to a sensitive IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] military center at an altitude and flight condition that resembled hostile targeting,” the statement said, reported CNN. “Under these circumstances, the aircraft was unintentionally hit, which unfortunately resulted in death of the many Iranian and foreign nationals.”