U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has slammed Iran for using "violence" and Internet disruption to prevent memorials for those killed during a November state crackdown on anti-establishment protests triggered by a significant hike in the price of gasoline.
"The Iranian people have the right to mourn 1,500 victims slaughtered by @khamenei_ir during #IranProtests," Pompeo tweeted, directly accusing Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last say in the Islamic republic.
According to the semiofficial Ilna news agency, Internet access was effectively cut off on December 25 in several Iranian provinces ahead of memorials planned on December 26.
Several people were reportedly detained at a mourning cemetery in Karaj marking 40 days after the death of a slain protester.
"The regime fears its own citizens and has once again resorted to violence and shutting down the Internet," Pompeo said on Twitter on December 27.
The United States said earlier this month that Iranian authorities may have killed more than 1,000 people in the crackdown in mid-November.
Reuters quoted anonymous government officials as saying some 1,500 people had died during the protests, though that figure could not be confirmed.
Amnesty International has said that at least 304 were killed and thousands injured in the unrest.
Tehran has dismissed the figures by rights groups and others while failing to publish an official death toll.