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09/21/2022 Iran (International Christian Concern) – Iran’s President Raisi addressed the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) today, focusing his speech on western sanctions and nuclear programming. His speech came at a particularly sensitive time for Iran’s ruling elite, as the country has erupted into protests regarding the death of an Iranian woman after she was brutalized by the religious police for incorrectly wearing her hijab.  

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) issued a press release where Commissions Eric Ueland said, “It is outrageous that wearing a loose hijab in Iran can be grounds for this kind of state violence…Vozara detention center officials must be held accountable for these brazen attacks on women exercising their freedom of religion or belief. Iran’s government, as a member of the United Nations, must also, as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, respect the right of protestors to peacefully express their views against mandatory religious head covering.” 

The United Nations Human Rights Office has called for an investigation into the woman’s death, and many human rights activists questioned the wisdom of allowing President Raisi to address UNGA under such circumstances. However, the UN has acknowledged Iran’s poor human rights record on other occasions. This includes UNGA adopting a resolution on Dec. 16, 2021, which criticized Iran’s human rights abuses. That resolution provided a list of reforms, including the protection of minorities and ensuring that no one is subjected to torture.  

In light of this context, a number of human rights activists have further called into question whether Iran should have been given any kind of platform at the UNGA meeting, given that no advancements were made on these reforms, as evident in the recent murder of this Iranian woman. 

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