ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The United States is calling for the United Nations to “speak out” on the anti-government protests rocking Iran for a sixth consecutive day.
“The freedoms that are enshrined in the United Nations Charter are under attack in Iran. Dozens have already been killed. Hundreds have been arrested,” Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, stated on Tuesday. “If the Iranian dictatorship’s history is any guide, we can expect more outrageous abuses in the days to come.”
“The UN must speak out,” she demanded.
The United States will call for an emergency United Nations session in New York and of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, she said.
“We must not be silent. The people of Iran are crying out for freedom. All freedom loving people must stand with their cause. The international community made the mistake of failing to do that in 2009. We must not make that mistake again.”
Haley also responded to Iranian claims that foreign agents are behind the protests: “We all know that’s complete nonsense.”
Reza Pahlevi, the son of Reza Shah, the last monarch of Iran, blamed the West for ignoring the Iranian people’s struggle for freedom in an interview with BBC Arabic on Tuesday.
“The West missed every chance to support the Iranian people,” said Pahlevi, in a reference to 2009’s Green Movement, the last mass anti-government demonstrations in Iran.
“It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran's leaders will be,” former US President Barack Obama said at the time. “We respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran."
The anti-government protests, which started last Thursday, have entered a sixth day, with at least 22 protestors killed and hundreds arrested. The authorities have promised a harsh crackdown on the demonstrators.
A “state of fear” has been imposed in Kurdish cities that have held regular protests, the Kurdistan Human Rights Network reported on Tuesday.
The Supreme Leader of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, blamed external forces for the protests. “The enemies have united and are using all their means, money, weapons, policies and security services to create problems for the Islamic regime," he said.
US President Donald Trump, a harsh critic of Obama’s legacy on Iran, has been a vocal supporter of the protests, saying that America is closely watching the situation as “the people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif slammed Trump’s stance, tweeting on Tuesday, “Iran’s security and stability depend on its own people, who – unlike the peoples of Trumps regional ‘bffs’ – have the right to vote and to protests. These hard-earned rights will be protected, and infiltrators will not be allowed to sabotage them through violence and destruction.”
Pahlevi asked the West to do more than just talk about freedom.
“What unites Iranians is their hope to gain the right to decide their destiny. Iranians have lost hope in the regime resolving their issues and they want to do something about their future,” he said.
He emphasized the importance of social media, saying that it has enabled people to communicate directly with each other around the world.
Iranian authorities blocked social media platforms like Telegram and Instragram as protests continued. Telephone and internet services have also reportedly been disrupted in the country.
The United States is considering sanctions against Iran, Andrew Peek, deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran, said on Monday in an interview with VOA.
“We want to make it clear now through visible and vocal support of the Iranian people, that we will not let them suffer anonymously, that when they want to exercise their basic human rights we will support them,” he said.
France has expressed concern over the “number of victims and arrests” in the protests. The Foreign Ministry stressed “the right to protest freely is a fundamental right,” in a statement on Tuesday.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in a phone call on Tuesday that “encouraging violence” is different from expressing “legitimate freedom” or expressing criticism, adding that no single country will make “compromises over the security of its citizens.”
Rouhani criticized the presence of a “terrorist group” in Paris that has encouraged the people of Iran to engage in “violence,” Iranian state media reported. He called on France to carry out its “legal duty” against the group, the Iranian opposition party Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK).
According to the Iranian state agency, Macron replied that “we never support terrorist groups and do not allow any action against other countries from France.”
Turkey and Russia have both warned against interference in Iranian affairs.
“Interference which is destabilizing is unacceptable,” said a Russia Foreign Ministry Statement.