Iran’s leader promises a “steady” investigation into the young woman’s death

Iran’s leader promises a “steady” investigation into the young woman’s death

NEW YORK (AP) — The death of an Iranian woman in the custody of the country’s morality police must be “firmly” investigated, Iran’s president said Thursday, even as he turned the tables on the country he was visiting for the U.N. General Assembly and asked : What about all the people killed by American police?

“Were all these deaths investigated?” Ebrahim Raisi told a press conference held in New York on the sidelines of the annual meeting of world leaders. He laments what he said are “double standards” in the West when it comes to human rights.

Regarding the death of Mahsa Amini, which sparked clashes between protesters and security forces in Iran, he said the authorities did what they had to do.

“It absolutely needs to be investigated,” he said. “I am contacting her family at the earliest opportunity and have assured them that we will continue to investigate this incident vigorously. …Our highest concern is to ensure the rights of every citizen”.

Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death have killed at least nine people since violence erupted over the weekend, according to a tally Thursday by The Associated Press. Iranian police say Amini, who was detained for violating the strict dress code of the morality police, died of a heart attack and was not mistreated. Her family has disputed that account.

The scope of the ongoing unrest in Iran, the worst in years, remains unclear as protesters in more than a dozen cities – venting anger over social repression and growing crises in the country – continue to face security forces and paramilitaries.

Raisi, who formally addressed the General Assembly on Wednesday, pointed out that bad things happen to people at the hands of authorities everywhere.

“What about Americans dying at the hands of American law enforcement?” he asked about his country’s rival nation, also citing deaths of women in Britain that he said were not being investigated. He called for “the same standards” around the world to deal with such deaths at the hands of the authorities.

Raisi’s comparison reflects a common approach among Iranian leaders, who when faced with accusations of rights abuses often point to Western society and its “hegemony” and demand that those nations be held accountable as well. Neither the United States nor Britain, however, has the moral police to have power over citizens.

Raisi, who headed the country’s judiciary before becoming president, said the investigation into Amini’s death ultimately ends there. While elections and open dialogue are held in Iran, the highest echelons of government are close to the supreme leader, who has the final say on key state issues and appoints the head of the judiciary.

The protests have evolved over the past five days into an open challenge to the government, with women removing and burning their headscarves in the streets and Iranians calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic itself. They are the most serious protests since 2019, when protests broke out over a government hike in the price of petrol.

While he did not outright condemn the protests, he appeared to side with the deadly response that left some protesters dead.

“What’s happening, the protests… of course it’s normal and completely acceptable,” he said. “We have to distinguish between protesters and vandalism. Demonstrations are good for expressing specific issues.”

He added: “There is a debate in Iran.”

The protests in Iran began as an emotional outburst over the death of Amini, whose death has been condemned by the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.

The US government has imposed sanctions on the morality police and leaders of other Iranian security services, saying they “systematically use violence to suppress peaceful protesters”.

Iranian police say Amini died of a heart attack and was not abused, but her family has disputed that. Independent UN-affiliated experts said Thursday that reports suggested he was severely beaten by ethics police, without offering evidence.

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Aya Batrawy, an AP reporter based in Dubai, has been covering the UN General Assembly. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ayaelb and for more AP coverage of the UN General Assembly, visit https://apnews.com/hub/united-nations-general-assembly

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