Iran International’s correspondent was asked to leave a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York attended by two visiting Islamic Republic officials who apparently were justifying Tehran’s clampdown on protesters.
Amid the global outcry over the Islamic Republic human rights violations, which is also condemned by numerous UN officials, organizers of the meeting made our correspondent Maryam Rahmati and BBC Persian’s Bahman Kalbasi leave the session on the pretext the meeting was held behind closed doors while Iran's state broadcaster was allowed to cover the event.
The event at the UN building was a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The OIC has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union. The meeting paused and only resumed after all the reporters left the room.
The Iranian officials present at the meeting were Kazem Gharibabadi, the deputy head of the Judiciary who is also secretary of the High Council for Human Rights, and Zohreh Elahian, a member of parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee. Elahian reportedly was one of 227 lawmakers in Iran who recently signed a letter requesting the execution of some protesters.
“Why is your government so scared of us?” asked our correspondent before leaving the room. “If you are not doing anything wrong; if you are not killing the people of Iran, why are you scared of our media outlet?” she said.
She went on to ask Gharibabadi what was wrong with covering the meeting, as he was sitting smugly with a sober face.
The meeting in question was organized at the behest of the Islamic Republic seemingly to provide an opportunity for the regime in Tehran to justify the death sentence that authorities seek for some protesters, or blaming the media for the unrest in the country as they always do.
Later on Monday, Iran’s state media cited Gharibabadi as saying on the sidelines of the meeting that the British government’s support for the “unlawful anti-Iran campaign waged by the Persian-language media outlets” is the root cause of the popular protests that has been going on for the past two months.
Unable to come up with a working proven allegations against Persian-language media outlets, the Islamic Republic has launched a smear campaign against UK-based channels, describing them as terrorist groups.
“In fact, the anti-Iran Persian-language media’s moves are completely contrary to the laws and regulations, and we hold the British government responsible in this regard,” Gharibabadi told reporters in New York.
Kazem Gharibabadi in New York, on November 14, 2022
As Western countries seek to ratchet up scrutiny of Tehran’s human rights violations, the UN human rights office called on Iran's government to immediately release thousands of detained protesters, faulting its “increasing harshness”.
At a UN press briefing in Geneva on Tuesday, Spokesman Jeremy Laurence of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said it was calling for all charges to be dropped against the demonstrators and cautioned that Iran can only mete out the death penalty for the “most serious crimes" under international law.
“Instead of opening space for dialogue on legitimate grievances, the authorities are responding to unprecedented protests with increasing harshness,” he said.
The UN Human Rights Council plans to hold a special session -- slated for 24 November -- to address “the deteriorating human rights situation.” The special session is being convened following an official request submitted on November 11 by Germany and Iceland, which has been supported by 44 States thus far.