Iran protests: Iran vows to investigate death of young woman

The Iranian president says the death of an Iranian woman in the custody of the country’s vice squad must be “firmly” investigated.

Ebrahim Raisi’s comments came even as he turned the tables on the country he was visiting for the United Nations General Assembly and asked: What about all the people who have been killed by American police?

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“Have all these deaths been investigated?” Raisi said at a news conference in New York on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders. He bemoaned what he called “double standards” in the West about human rights.

Referring to Mahsa Amini’s death, which has sparked days of clashes between protesters and security forces in Iran, he said the authorities did what they had to do.

“It definitely needs to be investigated,” he said.

“I contacted her family at the earliest opportunity and assured them that we will remain steadfast in investigating this incident. Our greatest concern is to protect the rights of all citizens.”

At least nine people have been killed in clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters since violence first erupted over the weekend, according to The Associated Press.

FILE – Iranians in exile from the National Council of Resistance of Iran gather outside the Iranian embassy in Berlin, Germany, September 20, 2022, following the death of an Iranian woman being held by the country’s morality police. ) Recognition: Michael son/AP

Iranian police say Amini, who was arrested for violating the morality police’s strict dress code, died of a heart attack and was not abused. Her family has expressed doubts about this account.

The extent of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in several years, remains unclear as protesters in more than a dozen cities – venting anger at the country’s social repression and mounting crises – continue to target security forces and paramilitary forces meeting.

Raisi, formally addressing the General Assembly on Wednesday, pointed out that bad things are happening to people everywhere at the hands of the authorities.

“What about the deaths of Americans by US law enforcement?” He asked about his country’s rival nation and also mentioned deaths of women in Britain, which he said were uninvestigated. He called for the “same standard” in the way authorities deal with such deaths worldwide.

Raisi’s comparison reflects a common approach among Iranian leaders, who, when faced with allegations of rights abuses, often point to Western society and its “hegemony” and demand that those nations be similarly held accountable. However, neither the United States nor Britain has a morality police endowed with authority over the citizens.

Demonstrators chant slogans during a protest against the death of a woman arrested by vice squads on September 21, 2022 in downtown Tehran, Iran. Recognition: AP
The US government has imposed sanctions on Iran’s vice squad after a woman died in custody accused of wearing her Islamic head covering too loosely. Recognition: Bilal Hussein/AP

Raisi, who headed the country’s judiciary before becoming president, said the investigation into Amini’s death ultimately lies there. While elections and open debates take place in Iran, the top echelons of government hold close to the supreme leader, who has the final say on important state affairs and appoints the head of the judiciary.

The protests have escalated into an open challenge to the government over the past five days, with women taking off and burning their state-mandated headscarves in the streets and Iranians calling for the demise of the Islamic Republic itself. They are the most serious demonstrations since 2019, when protests erupted against a government fuel price hike.

While Raisi did not directly condemn the protests, she appeared to side with the deadly response that has killed some protesters.

“What happens to have demonstrations… of course these are normal and fully accepted,” he said. “We have to differentiate between protesters and vandalism. Demonstrations are good for expressing certain issues.”

He added: “There is a debate in Iran.”

The demonstrations in Iran began as an emotional outburst over the death of Amini, which was condemned by the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.

The US government imposed sanctions on the vice squad and leaders of other Iranian security agencies, saying they “routinely use force to repress peaceful protesters.”

Independent UN experts said on Thursday reports suggested she was badly beaten by morality police but could not provide any evidence to support such claims.–c-8330548 Iran protests: Iran vows to investigate death of young woman

James Brien

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