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Pompeo Says Iranians Have Right To Mourn Victims of Protests

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has condemned the Islamic Republic for preventing families from mourning slain protesters. FILE PHOTO

On Friday U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Iranian people should be able to mourn the protesters slaughtered during the protests in November, after security forces cracked down on commemorative gatherings on Thursday.

"The Iranian people have the right to mourn 1,500 victims slaughtered by Khamenei during Iran protests. The regime fears its own citizens and has once again resorted to violence and shutting down the internet," he tweeted.

On December 26, security forces turned out on the streets and even in cemeteries in heavy gear and fully prepared to prevent mass protests and commemorations to honor the protesters slain in November.

Dozens of mourners were arrested in cemeteries including Behesht-e Sakineh, a cemetery in Karaj near the capital, where a well-known victim 27-year-old Pouya Bakhtiari is buried.

On December 23 after failing to force Pouya's family to cancel their planned ceremony, security forces arrested his parents. The family was planning to hold a public memorial at the cemetery for their son and other victims of the November protests.

In a tweet on December 24 Pompeo had said the U.S. strongly denounces the arrest of Pouya Bakhtiari’s parents and calls for their immediate release.

"It’s time for the international community to stand together with the Iranian people and hold the regime accountable," Pompeo said in the tweet.

Thanks to his parents' risky defiance of the regime pressure to stop them from talking to foreign-based media, the 27-year old Pouya Bakhtiari has turned into one of the icons of the November protests.

According to three sources close to Khamenei's office 1,500 protesters were killed during less than two weeks of unrest that started on November 15. The toll is much higher than figures from international human rights groups.

December 26 marked the 40th day of the death of protesters shot dead on November 16. The 40th day is an important day in Iranian funeral ceremonies.