By Nicolas Garon
23 September 2022
20 September 2022 – Less than five days after 22-year-old Kurdish Woman, Mahsa Amini, was murdered in Tehran by multiple traumatic blows to her head, following an arrest by the religious police for her headscarf fitting too loosely, President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in New York to attend the 77th session of the UN General Assembly.
The murder happened roughly two months after the arrest and coerced confession of Sepideh Rashno aired on Iranian media, violating Iranian Constitution article 38, which reads “Compulsion of individuals to testify, confess, or take an oath is not permissible; and any testimony, confession, or oath obtained under duress is devoid of value and credence. Violation of this article is liable to punishment in accordance with the law.”
President Raisi arrived in the United States as his nation erupted in protest. The BBC has reported over 80 cities have joined in protest, not to mention the demonstration outside of the United Nations Building, where he and various world leaders gathered this week. Toggled with protest and a looming visit to the United Nations, Iran has implemented widespread internet blackouts, uniform to its strategy in 2019, when several middle eastern countries, including Iran, protested in tandem. Iran has strategically turned on its internet in the day, and restricted access at night, both to ensure deniability of causing the shutdowns, as well as to quell communications and information sharing of night protests. Like in 2019, protestors have been murdered. Reuters has estimated 8–15 people have been killed, and 733 people injured.
After Raisi was accused by The Washington Post of ignoring protests at home, during his United Nations assembly speech, a female American reporter asked President Raisi the following, “Thousands of your people are protesting the streets saying they want justice for the killing of a 22-year-old woman, whose only crime was wearing her hijab too loosely, but apparently a nationwide text message from your government has warned demonstrators that they would be prosecuted if they join protests. Now, why won’t you hear their calls for justice? We’ve also seen the internet and social media apps shut down in Iran. What are you afraid the world is going to see?”
Though Iran ranked 5th worst in the world among all countries in a human rights rating by the Fraser Institute, President Raisi responded by saying, “I contacted her family, the family of the deceased, at the very first opportunity and I assured them personally that we will continue steadfastly to investigate that incident…. Our utmost preoccupation is the safeguarding of the rights of every citizen… These things can occur in other places as well. He furthered by stating, “I ask you… Last calendar year, how many folks lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement personnel here in America? …. Certain reports point to a number of about a thousand citizens/civilians. Have these all been investigated? Did the newspapers all write that in one of the Western countries for… Great Britain where in a 28-week time span, over 81 women were killed, due to what reason?… Human rights may/should not be talked about in a framework of double standards…We have said all along that we seek to realize justice, fairness…rest assured that whether it’s vis-a-vis the deceased young lady or others the Islamic Republic will not allow the trampling upon the rights of anyone.”