The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has strongly denounced the arrest of parents of a young protester shot dead by security forces in Iran’s November protests.
Pouya Bakhtiari, 27, died of a bullet wound to the head in his mother's arms on November 16 in the Mehrshahr district of Karaj, west of the capital Tehran.
His parents did not shy away from speaking to foreign-based Persian media about their son’s tragic death and were planning to have a public memorial service, which the Islamic Republic wanted to block.
They arrested the parents late Monday and also detained several of their relatives.
In a tweet on Tuesday, December 24, Mike Pompeo asserted that the United States of America strongly denounces the arrest of Pouya Bakhtiari's parents, and calls for their immediate release.
Meanwhile, Secretary Pompeo called upon the international community to stand together with the Iranian people and hold the regime accountable.
Reports circulated on social media say that not only Pouya's parents but also his grandparents, sister, brother-in-law, and uncles, as well as his eleven-year-old cousin, have been detained by the Islamic Republic security forces. The whereabouts of the detainees are not yet known.
In the meantime, Amnesty International (A.I.) has also called upon the Islamic Republic authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Pouya's parents.
"It beggars belief that the Iranian authorities are arresting grieving parents," Amnesty tweeted.
Pouya Bakhtiari is one of the hundreds killed during protests that broke out on November 15 against an unprecedented overnight three-fold increase in gasoline prices and soon turned into the deadliest anti-regime outburst in the Islamic Republic's four-decade history.
Iranian authorities have not given an official tally of the number of people killed during the four-day protests that shook 28 out of 31 provinces of the country.
Amnesty International and Iranian opposition groups estimated that 300-400 were killed, but Reuters on December 23 published a shocking report based on unidentified Iranian government sources that 1,500 have died. Although Iran has rejected this report but it has not published any figures or information on those killed by security forces.
The U.S. State Department has said it has received videos of the Revolutionary Guards opening fire without warning on protesters in Mahshahr township. And when protesters fled to nearby marshlands, the Guards pursued them and surrounded them with machinegun-mounted trucks, spraying the protesters with bullets and killing at least 100 people.
An eyewitnesses has basically confirmed the events in Mahshahr in an interview with radio Farda.