JEDDAH/NEW YORK: US Ambassador Nikki Haley warned Iranian authorities on Friday that the world is watching as it responds to anti-regime protests.
“The Iranian regime is now on notice: The world will be watching what you do,” Haley told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in the Islamic republic.
At Washington’s request, the 15-nation UN council met to debate the biggest wave of protests that Iran has seen in a decade, which have led to at least 21 deaths and seen hundreds more arrested.
According to the Iranian opposition, at least 50 have died.
“The world has witnessed the horrors that have taken place in Syria, that began with a murderous regime denying its people’s right to peacefully protest. We must not let that happen in Iran,” Haley said earlier.
“This is a matter of fundamental human rights for the Iranian people, but it is also a matter of international peace and security,” said Haley.
“It will be telling if any country tries to deny the Security Council from even having this discussion, just as the Iranian regime tries to deny its own people the ability to have their voices heard.”
The Iranian opposition has appealed to the UN Security Council to defend “the legitimate and natural rights of the Iranian people” to overthrow the regime.
In a statement made available to Arab News on Friday by opposition spokesman Shahriar Kia, the Iranian opposition said: “At least 50 demonstrators have been martyred by the direct fire of the Revolutionary Guards since the beginning of the uprising and more than 3,000 have been arrested. Children and teenagers as young as 12 or 13 are among the martyrs. The actual number of martyrs and those arrested is much more and this is a reality that the Iranian regime is trying hard to hide.”
The statement urged the UN to strongly condemn and hold accountable the Iranian regime for “killing defenseless and unarmed demonstrators — measures that are a clear indication of crimes against humanity.”
The opposition group emphasized the need for the UN Security Council to “recognize the legitimate right of the people of Iran to overthrow the ruling religious fascism and establish freedom and sovereignty of the people.”
In Congress, senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin — respectively the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — introduced a resolution in support of the protesters in Iran.
The document expresses support “for the rights of the Iranian people to have their voices heard and condemning the Iranian regime for its long history of human rights abuses” and urges UN talks on creating a mechanism to monitor abuses by security forces.
In an Op-Ed for The Washington Post newspaper, Vice President Mike Pence said the US was “standing with” Iranians, who have rallied against inflation, corruption and Tehran’s costly interventions in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.
Pence raised the prospect of fresh US sanctions on Tehran, and bashed the seven-nation nuclear deal in which former President Barack Obama lifted sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.