NEW YORK (TNZT) – The death of an Iranian woman in the custody of the country’s vice squad must be investigated “steadfastly,” Iran’s president said on Thursday, even as he turned the tables in the country he visited for the UN General Assembly. the UN. asked: What about all the people killed by the American police?
“Have all these deaths been investigated?” Ebrahim Raisi said this at a press conference in New York on the sidelines of the annual meeting of world leaders. He complained about what he said were “double standards” in the West regarding human rights.
On the death of Mahsa Amini, which sparked clashes between protesters and security forces in Iran, he said authorities were doing what they had to do.
“It definitely needs to be investigated,” he said. “I immediately contacted her family and assured them that we would steadfastly continue to investigate that incident. … Our greatest concern is the protection of the rights of every citizen.”
Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the deaths have left at least nine people dead since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to a count Thursday by The The New Zealand Times. Iranian police say Amini, who was detained for violating the strict dress code of the vice squad, died of a heart attack and was not assaulted. Her family has questioned that.
The extent of the ongoing unrest in Iran, the worst in years, still remains unclear as protesters in more than a dozen cities – expressing anger at social repression and the mounting crises in the country – continue to face security concerns – and paramilitary forces.
Raisi, who formally addressed the General Assembly on Wednesday, pointed out that bad things happen to people all over the world at the hands of authorities.
“What about the deaths of Americans at the hands of US law enforcement?” he asked about his country’s rival nation and also mentioned the deaths of women in Britain who he said had not been investigated. He called for “the same standard” around the world in dealing with such deaths by authorities.
Raisi’s comparison reflects a common approach among Iranian leaders, who, when faced with accusations of human rights abuses, often point to Western society and its “hegemony” and demand that those nations be held equally accountable. However, neither the United States nor Great Britain has a morality police that has authority over citizens.
Raisi, who headed the country’s judiciary before becoming president, said the investigation into Amini’s death ultimately rests there. As elections and open debate take place in Iran, the highest governments are working closely with the supreme leader, who has the final say on important state matters and appoints the head of the judiciary.
The protests over the past five days have turned into an open challenge to the government, with women taking off their state-imposed headscarves and burning them in the streets and Iranians calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic itself. They are the most serious demonstrations since 2019, when protests erupted over a government hike in petrol prices.
While he did not outright condemn the protests, he seemed to side with the deadly response to them, which resulted in the deaths of some protesters.
“What is happening, demonstrations have … this is of course normal and fully accepted,” he said. “We have to distinguish between protesters and vandalism. Demonstrations are good for raising specific issues.”
He added: “There is discussion in Iran.”
The demonstrations in Iran started as an emotional outburst over the death of Amini, whose death has been condemned by the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.
The US government has imposed sanctions on the morality police and leaders of other Iranian security forces for “regularly using force to repress peaceful protesters.”
Iranian police say Amini died of a heart attack and was not mistreated, but her family has raised doubts. Independent experts affiliated with the UN said on Thursday that reports suggested she was severely beaten by vice squad, without providing evidence.
Aya Batrawy, an TNZT journalist based in Dubai, is on assignment for the UN General Assembly. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ayaelb and for more TNZT coverage from the UN General Assembly, visit https://apnews.com/hub/united-nations-general-assembly