Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on the Ongoing Protests in Iran
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 2, 2022
Thank you, Nazanin. That was an extraordinarily powerful statement. And thank you for your call to support the freedom-loving people of Iran. And that’s exactly why we are here today. Let me also thank Dr. Ebadi, for joining us from London to share your important message and UN Special Rapporteur Rehman for shining a spotlight on what is happening in Iran today.
According to someone who knew Mahsa Amini, all she wanted was to live a normal and happy life. She dreamed of starting a family after she finished her studies. But these hopes and dreams were crushed by the tyranny of the so-called “morality police” who are charged with enforcing Iran’s conservative dress code. On September 13th as you’ve heard, Mahsa stepped off a train in Tehran, she was accosted and accused of wearing her headscarf improperly. She was thrown into a police van and reportedly beaten on her way into custody.
We know little about what happened after that. But we know Mahsa fell into a coma, and three days later, while still in police custody, she died. We know she was killed for the crime of being a woman. The Iranian government probably thought her death would be just another footnote in its long record of state-sponsored violence and discrimination against women. But this time, this time as you’ve heard was different. For the past six weeks, Iranian women and men across ethnicities and social classes have peacefully protested under the banner of women, life, freedom. These protests have spread across the country and even around the world. In Istanbul and Los Angeles, in Afghanistan and Paris and right here in New York, protestors have gathered inspired by the bravery that they see on the streets of Iran to stand with the Iranian people.
But for all the hope this moment represents, we must also acknowledge the heavy price protestors across Iran have paid. Women like Hadis Najafi who shared this message on TikTok during a protest. She said and I quote, “I hope in a few years when I look back, I will be happy that everything has changed for the better.” Shortly after sharing that message, she was shot dead reportedly at the hands of Iranian security forces. Across Iran, security forces have detained and tortured peaceful protestors. They have killed hundreds of people and badly injured many more in bloody crackdowns. And they have tried to silence dissent by detaining dozens of civil society activists, journalists, and lawyers.
We must condemn these brutal acts of repression and violence. And, more than that, we must back up our words with action. That’s why the United States has sanctioned the morality police and other Iranian security and communications officials complicit in these abuses. That’s why we have supported technology companies helping Iranians communicate with each other and the outside world. And that’s why we strongly support the Special Rapporteur’s call for an independent, international investigation to hold Iranian officials accountable for the violence we’re seeing. And that’s why, as Vice President Harris just announced today, we will work with other Member States to remove the Islamic Republic of Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
Since 1946, the Commission on the Status of Women has worked to promote gender equality and empower women around the world. This work is vital. It makes a real difference. And it deserves our full support, especially when the rights of so many women and girls are under attack. But the Commission cannot do its work when it is being undermined from within. Iran’s membership is an ugly stain on the Commission’s credibility. In our view, it cannot stand. And while Iran’s systemic oppression of women is not new, thanks to the bravery of the Iranian people, the regime’s abuses have been brought to the fore.