The United States and Iran clashed at the annual United Nations General Assembly this week. The two countries came to a head on security and human rights on Wednesday.
Iran’s president demanded that the United States issue guarantees to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. President Joe Biden spoke about Iran and nuclear capabilities as well, vowing Tehran would never get an atomic bomb.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi struck a defiant tone at the United Nations General Assembly, decrying there were “double standards” on human rights, after the death of an Iranian woman in police custody that has sparked protests around Iran.
Mass protests erupted over the death of a young woman held in detention last week. Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old from Iranian Kurdistan, was arrested in Tehran for “unsuitable attire” by the morality police. She was beaten by the police and died in detention.
Amini was beaten so horrifically she fell into a coma while being held by the notorious morality police, who enforce strict rules in Iran requiring women to cover their hair and wear loose-fitting clothes in public.
Anger has exploded across Iran and the world. Protests have spread across Iran, continuing for a sixth day today. Fresh restrictions were placed on social media by the regime. Activists expressed concern that the internet shutdown echoed a government move before a crackdown against the 2019 fuel price protests when 1,500 people were killed.
The death of the young woman in custody has called Iran’s human rights record into international focus. Some have criticized the fact that Raisi was permitted to speak at the U.N. General Assembly, pointing to Iran’s human rights violations including the death of Amini.
Amini’s death unleashed widespread anger over issues including freedoms in the Islamic Republic and an economy reeling from sanctions. Women have played a prominent role in the protests, waving and burning their veils. Many have cut their hair in solidarity with Amini, doing so in public and on social media videos.
At UNGA, Iran was in focus for the death of Amini. Raisi sought to deflect criticism of Amino’s death.
“The Islamic Republic considers the double standards of some governments in the field of human rights as the most important factor in the institutionalization of human rights violations,” Raisi said.
When Raisi addressed the opening of UNGA, he vowed to fight to protect Iran’s nuclear program, threatened former President Donald Trump, and even held up a photo of the late Qassem Soleimani, praising the long-time mastermind of Iranian terrorist operations who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2020.
When Biden spoke about Iran, he reiterated his willingness to revive the nuclear pact under which Iran had agreed to restrain its atomic program in return for relief from economic sanctions.
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