The United Nations Human Rights Council voted Thursday to create a new fact-finding mission to investigate alleged human rights violations in Iran amid weeks of protests and Tehran’s brutal crackdown on the unrest.
The UN council had called a special session to discuss the “dire situation of human rights” in Iran, where citizens have been staging widespread protests against the government since Masha Amini, 22, was allegedly beaten by Iran’s “morality police” age. being detained for violating Iran’s strict dress code.
Twenty-five countries vote to create the new missionand 16 abstained. Only six countries voted against the transfer: China, Cuba, Pakistan, Venezuela, Armenia and Eritrea.
The new UN mission will examine alleged human rights violations in Iran in relation to the Iranian government’s tough response to the protests, which began back in September.
US Ambassador to the Human Rights Council, Michele Taylor, defied UN rules to show photos of dead Iranian protesters during her speech at the special sessionwanting to investigate the deaths.
“The names displayed next to me and the photos behind me represent only a fraction of the lives — lives full of potential — that were built simply to stand up for basic human rights. That’s why we’re here today,” Taylor said.
A man sitting next to Taylor held a black sign with white type showing the names of the protesters, while two people behind the ambassador held printed collages of the protesters’ photographs.
“This historic move led to the unacceptable, unacceptable death in custody of Mahsa Amini and the torture of hundreds of Iranians by security forces. A large number of other people were sexually assaulted,” Taylor said.
“The Iranian people are demanding something so simple, something most of us here take for granted: the opportunity to speak and be heard,” the ambassador said.
Taylor also criticized Iran for detaining two reporters who she said were “crucial” in breaking the news of Amini’s death.
“It is unconscionable that those women who carry the death penalty in Iran are now facing charges simply for exercising their freedom of speech,” the ambassador said.
The president of the Human Rights Council, Federico Villegas of Argentina, reiterated the rules regarding the display of photographs before the microphone was passed on at the Geneva session.
“Please remind me of the rules of this council not to present images, or any other representation, while we speak. Thank you,” said Villegas.
The Biden administration responded to the repression in Iran with sanctions and condemnation against those responsible.
“The Iranian government must end its systematic persecution of women and allow peaceful protest. The United States will continue to express our support for human rights in Iran and to hold those who violate them to account,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement shortly after Amini’s death.
President Biden said last month that the Iranian government has “denied its people basic freedoms and suppressed the aspirations of generations through intimidation, coercion, and violence.”