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Protests in Iran: UN Human Rights Council votes to investigate regime’s violent response

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The UN voted to launch an investigation into Iran’s crackdown on protests across the country over the past two months.

The Human Rights Council will appoint an independent investigator to complete a fact-finding mission into Tehran’s response to the protests after the council approved the motion on Thursday. Council chief Volker Turk said Iran was in a “full-blown” crisis, calling the government’s actions “unacceptable” and “disproportionate” in his opening speech.

Volker noted that at least 300 people have been killed and more than 14,000 arrested since the protests began in mid-September. Some estimates put the number at 350 dead and more than 15,000 arrested.

“Iranian officials will not be able to carry out this violent crackdown anonymously,” US Ambassador to the HRC Michele Taylor said of the vote, according to The Guardian. “The international community is watching.”

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But Iran’s representative at the meeting, Khadijeh Karimi, accused the West of using the advice to attack his country in a “appalling and shameful” move.

Iranians protest the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, after she was detained by the moral police in Tehran, on September 20, 2022.
(AP Photo/Middle East Images, file)

The protests began in response to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in a hospital after slipping into a coma following an alleged beating by the country’s morality police. The officers had arrested Amini for violating the country’s hijab (headscarf) laws.

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What started as demonstrations in the capital spread to more than 140 cities and towns across the country, becoming the most significant challenges to the regime since its establishment after the 1979 revolution.

Iran is facing international criticism after the brutal beating of a protester by riot police.  (The Foreign Office).

Iran is facing international criticism after the brutal beating of a protester by riot police. (The Foreign Office).
(The Alien Desk)

Protesters have even gone so far as to attack historic institutions, including burning down a museum dedicated to the regime’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed the vote as leaving “no doubt” that the council “recognizes the seriousness of the situation in Iran,” arguing that the fact-finding mission “will ensure that those involved in the Iran’s ongoing violent crackdown individuals are identified and their actions documented.”

Iranian police arrive to disperse a protest marking the 40 days since the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, whose tragedy sparked Iran's biggest anti-government movement in more than a decade, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, 26 October 2022.

Iranian police arrive to disperse a protest marking the 40 days since the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, whose tragedy sparked Iran’s biggest anti-government movement in more than a decade, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, 26 October 2022.
(AP)

The mission will collect evidence of the regime’s actions, which can then be used in legal proceedings at the International Court of Justice.

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The council has faced a series of challenges to its validity and authority in recent years after the US initially withdrew over concerns the council had lost its purpose. It also failed to pass a motion to investigate China for its treatment of its Uyghur population.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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