United States to put United Nations' focus on Iran protests

The United States and Albania will hold an informal UN Security Council gathering on Wednesday.

 A police motorcycle burns during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police", in Tehran, Iran September 19, 2022 (photo credit: WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
A police motorcycle burns during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police", in Tehran, Iran September 19, 2022
(photo credit: WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

The United States will next week put the United Nations spotlight on protests in Iran sparked by the death of a young woman in police custody and look for ways to promote credible, independent investigations into Iranian human rights abuses.

The United States and Albania will hold an informal UN Security Council gathering on Wednesday, according to a note outlining the event, seen by Reuters. Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and Iranian-born actress and activist Nazanin Boniadi are set to brief.

"The meeting will highlight the ongoing repression of women and girls and members of religious and ethnic minority groups in Iran," the note said. "It will identify opportunities to promote credible, independent investigations into the Iranian government's human rights violations and abuses."

Independent UN investigator on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, is also due to address the meeting, which can be attended by other UN member states and rights groups.

Mahsa Amini protests in Iran

Iran has been gripped by protests since the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody last month. The unrest has turned into a popular revolt by Iranians from all layers of society, posing one of the boldest challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution.

 Iranian protesters chant towards security forces in Tehran, October 26, 2022 (credit: 1500tasvir) Iranian protesters chant towards security forces in Tehran, October 26, 2022 (credit: 1500tasvir)

Iran has blamed its foreign enemies and their agents for the unrest.

"The meeting will underscore ongoing unlawful use of force against protesters and the Iranian regime's pursuit of human rights defenders and dissidents abroad to abduct or assassinate them in contravention of international law," read the note about the planned meeting.

Rights groups have said at least 250 protesters have been killed and thousands arrested across the country. Women have played a prominent part in the protests, removing and burning veils. The deaths of several teenage girls reportedly killed during protests have fueled more anger.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on Iranian security forces to refrain from unnecessary or disproportionate force against protesters and appealed to all to exercise restraint and avoid further escalation.

Guterres has also called for an investigation of Amini's death by an "independent competent authority."