Tehran has said the US should offer compensation to ordinary citizens whose lives have been damaged during the violent protests openly backed by Washington.
Iranians have filed more than 360 lawsuits seeking compensation from the US for the damages caused by the widespread rioting and looting during anti-government protests, as well as for other “crimes committed by the US against our nation,” judiciary spokesperson, Gholam Hossein Esmaeili, told reporters on Tuesday.
Esmaeili accused Washington of inciting and supporting the unrest, stressing that American actions directly hurt ordinary Iranian citizens. The courts have awarded over $130 billion in damages to be paid by the US, he said, adding that the Iranian government must now work towards compelling Washington to pay up.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli previously said that between 130,000 and 200,000 people participated in the riots across the country, during which 731 banks, 70 gas stations and more than 300 private vehicles were vandalized or burned. A number of protesters and security personnel were killed in the ensuing clashes.
The protests began peacefully over the government’s abrupt announcement on Nov. 15 that it was raising gasoline prices by as much as 200 percent and imposing a rationing system, with the proceeds from the higher prices going, it said, to needy Iranians in the form of cash subsidies.
The changes took many people in Iran by surprise and their protests soon turned into violent demonstrations about a litany of grievances in the country of 80 million, where unemployment and inflation have been growing worse. In order to legitimize their move, the Iran Government said that price rise and rationing was to help poor people amid mounting US sanctions on Iran’s energy sector.
But, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo openly backed the protesters, saying last month: “We support you and we will continue to stand with you in your struggle for a brighter future for your people and for your great nation.” Mike Pompeo also said he had received nearly 20,000 videos and other evidence from Iran of a violent suppression.
Mr. Pompeo’s appeal to Iranians had enraged the Tehran leadership as he did not specify what the received materials showed. One Iranian lawmaker said he thought that over 7,000 people had been arrested, while the country’s interior minister said as many as 200,000 people took part in the demonstrations.