President Donald Trump on Tuesday decried the Iranian government’s crackdown on protesters, saying Tehran is killing its citizens for speaking out at demonstrations.
“Iran is killing thousands and thousands of people right now as we speak,” Trump said despite a much lower death count being reported by Amnesty International.
He added they were killed “for the mere fact that they’re protesting,” and he called it a “terrible thing.”
Trump, who was speaking in London where he’s attending the NATO leaders summit, was mum on what, if anything, the U.S. could do in response to the violence, but he said, “I think the world has to be watching.”
Later, during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump said he misunderstood an earlier question when he said he did not support the Iranian protesters. Trump explained that he thought the question, during an earlier meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, pertained to financial support for the protesters. “We do support them totally,” Trump explained. The president also sent out a tweet that said: “The United States of America supports the brave people of Iran who are protesting for their FREEDOM. We have under the Trump Administration and always will!”
Amnesty International said on Monday it believes at least 208 people were killed in the protests and the crackdown that followed. Iranian state television on Tuesday acknowledged for the first time that security forces shot and killed what it described as “rioters” in multiple cities amid recent protests over the spike in government-set gasoline prices.
The protests are viewed as a reflection of widespread economic discontent gripping the country since Trump reimposed nuclear sanctions on Iran last year.
Trump encouraged reporters “to get in there and see what’s going on,” noting that the Iranian government has curtailed internet access to limit the spread of information about the violence.