Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi Wednesday urged the United States not to reach any agreement with Iran that would enable it to access additional funds.
While the lawyer has previously supported at least some sanctions against Tehran, Ebadi’s intervention comes not only after six weeks of protests in Iran but with the US in recent weeks showing hesitancy toward talks aimed at reviving the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). Under a restored JCPOA, Iran would gain access to funds frozen abroad and lifting of US sanctions in return for curbing its nuclear program.
Ebadi was addressing an ‘Arria’ meeting of the United Nations Security Council, an informal gathering sponsored by members of the council or other states to allow informative input from experts or non-state groups. The meeting was sponsored and introduced by US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Albanian ambassador Ferit Hoxha to discuss weeks of protests in Iran following the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini after arrest by Tehran ‘morality police.’
Speaking virtually from London, Ebadi said the “demands for justice” by the Amini family had “so far yielded no results.” Ebadi called on “western governments and especially the United States of America to refrain from subscribing [to] any type of agreements that will help the survival of the regime, as the Islamic Republic does not spend the funds for the welfare of the people but on the contrary provides and buys more weapons, which in turn cause more killing in Iran and the region.”
Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi in an undated photo
Ebadi, who left Iran in 2009, said the UN should set up an investigation into “recent repressions in Iran,” citing the 2017 precedent of Myanmar, and demanded the withdrawal of ambassadors of the “governments of the free world” from Iran with their representation reduced to charge d’affaires. She called for the removal of Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and for the establishment of a “democratic and secular government.”
Also addressing the Arria meeting virtually, the US Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran Javaid Rehman highlighted an “absence of accountability” in Iran, arguing that official investigations into Amini’s death had “failed to meet the minimum [standards] required.”Rehman argued Iranian family law, the age of criminal responsibility, and employment practices were all discriminatory, creating a situation of “gender apartheid.”
Rehman called for an international “independent investigative mechanism” to investigate the state’s response to six weeks of protests, in which he said at least 277 people had been killed, including 67 in Sistan-Baluchestan province.
The third speaker, Iran-born Hollywood actress Nazanin Boniadi, who was present in New York, called Amini’s death a “murder” that had been “the powder-keg moment that ignited this most recent uprising.” She said that the slogan ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ was a “declaration of opposition to a regime…built on being anti-women, pro-martyrdom, and repressive.”
Boniadi disputed the “myth…perpetuated by global pundits…that compulsory hejab is a cultural issue that we shouldn’t interfere with.” She also rejected “another myth, that this regime is reformable,” and argued that presidential and other elections could not “make a difference.” She said that “the potential for the current protests to transform Iran from theocracy to representative government could be a geopolitical game-changer, and the single most important key to bringing about stability in the Middle East.”
US ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, sitting in front of White House Special Envoy Rob Malley, said the US would support an international investigation into human rights in Iran, and had already sanctioned Iran’s ‘morality police.’ Arria meetings, first established in 1992 by Venezuelan Ambassador Diego Arria, have sometimes led to UN Security Council resolutions.