UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi not to use “disproportionate force” against protesters who took to the streets after the death of a young woman in morality police custody, his spokesman said Tuesday.
In a bilateral meeting last week during the UN General Assembly, Guterres “stressed to President Raisi the need to respect human rights, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
“We are increasingly concerned about reports of rising fatalities, including women and children, related to the protests,” Dujarric said in a statement.
He said Guterres “calls on the security forces to refrain from using unnecessary or disproportionate force and appeals to all to exercise utmost restraint to avoid further escalation.”
He also called for a “prompt, impartial and effective investigation” into the death of Mahsa Amini, the young woman who died in the custody of Iran’s morality police, sparking nationwide protests that have left at least dozens of people dead.
Raisi on Saturday labeled the protests “riots” and urged “decisive action against the opponents of the security and peace of the country and the people,” his office said.
🇮🇷#Iran: We are concerned by continued violent response by security forces to protests & communications restrictions following death of #MahsaAmini. Iranian authorities must respect rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly & association. https://t.co/8g4MwQUKMK pic.twitter.com/4M4sRLcUi2
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) September 27, 2022
Protests in Iran
A 22-year-old Kurdish woman from the north-western city of Saqez had been visiting the capital, Tehran, on 13 September when she was arrested by morality police officers for allegedly violating the strict law requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab, or headscarf.
Her death triggered protests against the morality police and the hijab law which quickly evolved into the most serious challenge that Iran’s Shia Muslim clerical establishment has faced in years.
Videos posted on social media have shown women defiantly burning their headscarves on bonfires and cutting their hair in public to cheers and chants of “Women, life, freedom” and “Death to the dictator” – a reference to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
At least 76 protesters have been killed by Iranian security forces during 11 days of unrest, activists claim. Meanwhile, Iranian state media have put the number of dead at 41, including several security personnel, and blamed “rioters”.
Courtesy: AFP with additional input by GVS