United Nations meeting on Iran protests 'blunder by Trump administration'

Glen Norman
January 7, 2018

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said this week that Washington was seeking emergency sessions on Iran at the United Nations in NY and at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

And Iran's United Nations envoy, Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo, complained in a letter to the Security Council president Wednesday that Trump's "absurd tweets" had "incited Iranians to engage in disruptive acts". One of the largest demonstrations was at Tehran's Imam Khomeini Musalla Mosque, where thousands of protesters blasted the US and chanted anti-U.S. slogans. "It is limiting the flow of information into Iran, restricting free speech, and attempting to prevent the outside world from observing its own repression", her statement said.

Khoshroo was the final ambassador to speak in a 90-minute debate to address what U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called the "troubling and unsafe situation in Iran". "We support these legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people, and call on the government to allow the free exchange of ideas and information".

US President Donald Trump and a number of other US officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, have sided with the protesters.

The statement closed, vowing, "To the regime's victims, we say: You will not be forgotten".

The Iranian government restricted access to social media at the height of the protests over the weekend, but many Iranians also use VPNs so the government can not track their online activity. Some demonstrators openly chanted anti-government slogans at both the hard line clerics who run the country and at President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who promised more political freedoms and economic improvements following sanctions relief after the 2015 nuclear deal.

He added that changes in Iran will come from the people and not from overseas.

At least 21 people were killed and 450 were arrested in the protests, many in clashes with security forces trying to quell the rallies.

There is no evidence that Washington had any direct role in orchestrating the anti-government protests, beyond the encouragement through social media and published remarks. When the rights of the people are denied, the people rightly resist.

Russian Federation opposed the USA push for Iran to be discussed at the Security Council, arguing the protests pose no threat to worldwide peace and security. Trump expressed "such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government" and pledged "great support from the United States". "Unfortunately, many of our European partners, as well as the United Nations, have thus far failed to forcefully speak out on the growing crisis in Iran". On the ground in Iran, however, the unrest appears to have ebbed on Friday. It has said those restrictions will be lifted on Friday, and there were signs Thursday that it had begun easing some of them.

Trump's administration has denied having any hand in the demonstrations, saying they arose completely spontaneously.

'It is unfortunate that despite the resistance on the part of some of its members, this council has allowed itself to be abused by the current U.S. administration in holding a meeting on an issue that falls outside the scope of its mandate, ' he said.

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