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EXCLUSIVE: US turns UN focus on protests in Iran

EXCLUSIVE: US turns UN focus on protests in Iran
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UNITED NATIONS, Oct 28 (Reuters) – The United States will next week put the protests in Iran sparked by the death of a young woman in police custody in the spotlight at the United Nations and seek ways to secure credible, independent investigations to promote Iranian human rights abuses.

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

“The meeting will highlight the ongoing oppression of women and girls and members of religious and ethnic minorities in Iran,” the statement said. “It will provide opportunities to promote credible, independent investigations into the Iranian government’s human rights violations and abuses.”

UN independent investigator on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, will also speak at the meeting, which is open to other UN member states and human rights groups.

Iran has been gripped by protests since the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody last month. The riots have escalated into a popular revolt by Iranians from all walks of life and pose one of the boldest challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution.

Iran blames its foreign enemies and their agents for the unrest.

The Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York accused the United States and its allies of abusing its platform “to advance its political agenda”.

“Given her hypocrisy, use of dual standards and selective application of human rights, we find US claims of support for Iranian women to be fallacious and lacking in good faith,” it said.

At least 250 protesters have been killed and thousands arrested across the country, according to human rights groups. Women have played a prominent role in the protests, removing veils and burning them. The deaths of several teenage girls reportedly killed during the protests have further fueled anger.

“The meeting will underscore the Iranian regime’s continued unlawful use of force against protesters and the persecution of human rights defenders and dissidents abroad, with the intention of abducting or murdering them in violation of international law,” the note on the planned meeting reads .

UN spokesman St├ęphane Dujarric on Friday called on the Iranian authorities to address the “legitimate grievances of the population, including in relation to women’s rights”.

“We condemn all incidents in which protesters have been killed or seriously injured and reiterate that security forces must avoid any unnecessary or disproportionate use of force against peaceful protesters,” Dujarric told reporters. “Those responsible must be held accountable.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Edited by Daniel Wallis

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