Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gholam Ali Khoshroo presented a speech in a briefing session on the situation in Iran a speech in the UN emergency session on Iran said “It is a discredit for the Security Council to take up a matter that is of a purely domestic nature while failing abjectly to lift a finger when it comes to genuine issues, such as the long-lasting occupation of Palestinian territory – to which this item is dedicated — and the indiscriminate bombing of Yemen in the past three years, which has so far resulted in the deaths of thousands of human beings and has brought hunger, disease and destruction on the Yemeni people.”
The full text of the statement is as follows:
The move by the United States to bring to this Council protests in Iran by some of our citizens for their legitimate grievances – some exacerbated by none other than the US itself in its dereliction of its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -is an abuse of its power as a Permanent Member, and an abuse of the Council itself.
It is unfortunate that despite the resistance on the part of some of its members, this Council has allowed itself to be abused by the current US administration in holding a meeting on an issue that falls outside the scope of its mandate, putting on display the failure of the Council to fulfill its real responsibility in maintaining international peace and security.
It is a discredit for the Security Council to take up a matter that is of a purely domestic nature while failing abjectly to lift a finger when it comes to genuine issues, such as the long-lasting occupation of Palestinian territory – to which this item is dedicated — and the indiscriminate bombing of Yemen in the past three years, which has so far resulted in the deaths of thousands of human beings and has brought hunger, disease and destruction on the Yemeni people. The list of such failures of the Council are all attributable to the obstructionist approach by the US delegation and goes on and on.
This is nothing but another desperate attempt by the US administration to escape forward, as it has lost every shred of moral, political and legal authority and credibility in the eyes of the whole world. Following such acts of disruption taken by this US administration as flouting international law and disrespecting the practices of civilized behavior in international politics, this administration is now desperately reaching for every straw that keeps it afloat.
There is a long history of US bullying at the UN, but this is a preposterous example-the purely internal affairs of a nation-in this case protests that the Iranian government has addressed with the utmost respect for the rights of protestors and with every attempt to deal with peacefully, despite violent infiltrators and direct encouragement by foreign forces including by the President of the United States-is not the subject of debate by the world’s most important security organ.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, for those who may not remember, also the United States’ long history of interventions in the internal affairs of Iran. A continuous pattern of disruption in the course of the democratization process in Iran can be traced back to the coup staged by the US against Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister in 1953. Hostile acts intensified once Iranians rose up to overthrow their dictator ruler – who was unsurprisingly loved by the US government. Since then, among others, the US has backed attempted military coups and acts of sabotage in Iran; imposed illegal and inhumane unilateral sanctions against ordinary Iranians; unconditionally supported Saddam Hussein in his eight-year destructive war against Iranians, including by providing him with chemical weapons; and even directly engaged in military confrontation with Iran in defense of Saddam. I should also refer to the 290 innocent lives lost- including 66 children- on board Iran Air 655 shot down in July 1988 by the US Navy in the Persian Gulf. It would be a remiss of me not to recall that the US shamelessly decorated the commander who gave the order to fire.
While President Trump may be enamored of the fact that no protesters demonstrated against his presence while he was in our neighborhood a few months ago-he may be unaware that they have no right to protest-the fact is that in every democratic country, citizens will, from time to time, take to the streets to protest one thing or another, and Iran is no exception. In every country the security forces-be they police, gendarmes, national guards or others-are present to ensure that protests remain peaceful, and Iran is, again, no exception. However, while the US accuses Iran of “suppressing” protests, one can only gasp at the hypocrisy when viewing images of Occupy Wall Street protestors beaten and dragged by American policemen, or to go back in time, when National Guardsmen fired on and killed peaceful student protestors at Kent State University, or to watching film of the protests outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968.
Or, more recently we can rewind to the 1992 Los Angeles riots over the brutal beating of Rodney King by policemen-and killings of innocent African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement continue unabated, as we all know-when the California Army National Guard, the 7th Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Division were called in to restore order. A total of 63 people were killed during the uprising; 2383 were injured, and more than 12,000 were arrested. I don’t recall any member of the UNSC calling for debate on this issue, when the US military was involved in suppressing domestic unrest. Nor was there debate in 1993 when the FBI raided the Branch Davidian headquarters in Waco, Texas, after a 51-day standoff, killing 83 men, women and children, the vast majority of whom were entirely innocent of any crime. It would behoove Ms. Haley-who perhaps was busy with other priorities at the time of their occurrence-to read up on these travesties of justice on American soil before condemning others for far less.
But it is not just the US that has an unenviable record in dealing with protestors: In 2005 in France, then Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy declared a “zero tolerance” policy towards protests emanating from the deprived suburbs of Paris and other major French cities, referring to demonstrators-largely poor immigrants-as “scum”. With almost 3,000 arrests and several deaths, the unrest was only quelled to reemerge in multiple other forms, most recently in 2017, when the police rape of a young French citizen of African origin once again triggered protests. I do not, however, recall the UNSC being summoned for debate on this.
And in 2011 in the United Kingdom, then Home Secretary Theresa May “utterly condemned” the violence amid protests in her country, saying, “Such disregard for public safety and property will not be tolerated.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron warned rioters, “You will feel the full force of the law. And if you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishment.” In the span of merely a few days, some 3,100 arrests were made and with the authorities told that they could ignore existing sentencing guidelines, two young men who promoted riots via Facebook, with the proposed disturbances not attended by any other people, were handed four-year sentences.
I do not recall any country bringing any of these reactions to protests-across the self-described “civilized” democracies-to the attention of, let alone opening to debate at the United Nations Security Council.
We have hard evidence of the violence in Iran by a handful of the protestors, in some cases resulting in the death of policemen and security officers, being very clearly directed from abroad. These violent elements surfaced in the crowds as early as Friday evening last week, at the inception of the protests. At that point, the hands of elements from outside Iran, including instigators based in the United States and Europe, began to be visible: incitement to violence included encouraging and training people to use Molotov cocktails, to seize ammunition depots, and to stage an armed uprising.
One US resident took to social media to order the killing of 120 members of our security forces, threatening that “those who will be included among the killed are “their families, [too] in their homes.” This same US resident publicly stated to US media, with complete sense of impunity that “they should burn down government mosques and police stations.”
It was clear enough to not just us but also third parties that Telegram Messenger executives decided to block some of the violence-inciting channels, citing a “line one shouldn’t cross.”
All of this is also well documented in the mainstream media. In one case, a man with extensive criminal record, captured a fire engine and ran it over a car, murdering the driver and his 12-year-old son. In some other cases, hooligans got involved and looted shops and banks. Altogether the peaceful, legitimate protests-which my government emphatically confirmed are a constitutional right which has been respected since the Islamic Revolution-were abused and hijacked to stage arson, vandalism, hooliganism, and in several cases the firing of weapons.
President Trump and some other US politicians have joined ISIL and its patrons in our region to openly incite and encourage violence. It is the ultimate irony that the country whose head of state has thrown his lot in with those visiting violence and destruction on Iran has its UN Ambassador, who has a history of ignorant and belligerent comments on my country (and even has trouble identifying whether a country is fictitious or not), bring it as an issue for debate to the Security Council. If anything, it is Iran that should be demanding a debate and investigation into how and why foreign elements, with impunity, are allowed to encourage and support unrest and violence in another sovereign and founding member of the United Nations. For example, let’s debate why the United States has failed, in spite of repeated official requests, to stop the incitement to violence and murder of innocent civilians from its territory? Or why some European countries continue to provide safe haven to terrorists who are inciting violence and armed rioting as we speak? Why social media sites that promote and teach the use of Molotov Cocktails and boast about people using arms to kill in Iran operate freely in their territory in spite of clear evidence. These are the real issues that need to be addressed.
To make this farce into something more than a mere waste of time, let us discuss something else that this Council hasn’t but should deal with: The free flow of information has brought with it the spread of fake news and other forms of information wars. These threats are common to all free and sovereign nations. We are not alone in finding it necessary to formulate solutions to these challenges. Recently, French President Macron also lauded efforts to increase transparency about the ownership of websites, including their foreign funding; further empowerment of government agencies to fight against “any attempt at destabilization” by TV stations controlled or influenced by foreign states; and also suggested countering social media channels used as propaganda by introducing laws to disclose the source of funding for particularly sponsored content.
These measures are not needed to simply fight back against fake news, rioters and electoral interference, but more ominously in the fight against terrorists, including ISIL. This fight, distinguished members and colleagues, is not zero sum: we will either win together or lose together.