At an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday, United States U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke in support of the Iranian protest movement, criticized the regime in Tehran for suppressing the free speech rights of its citizens, and said the world would be carefully watching as events continue to unfold in Iran.
The U.S. State Department issued a statement Thursday on the continuing protests in Iran:
We continue to monitor closely the protests and violence in Iran. The Iranian people have been expressing their desire for dignified treatment, an end to corruption, improved transparency, and increased economic opportunities. Protestors have also demanded that the regime stop diverting the nation’s wealth to fund military adventurism abroad. Unfortunately, the government continues to imprison and kill those who are brave enough to venture into the street. It is limiting the flow of information into Iran, restricting free speech, and attempting to prevent the outside world from observing its own repression.
We support these legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people, and call on the government to allow the free exchange of ideas and information. All of us should be able to enjoy the same basic economic and political freedoms, including the right to peaceful demonstration. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the deaths to date and the arrests of at least one thousand Iranians. We have ample authorities to hold accountable those who commit violence against protestors, contribute to censorship, or steal from the people of Iran. To the regime’s victims, we say: You will not be forgotten.
Speaking at the U.N. Security Council, Haley said the world should applaud the Iranian people for having the courage to risk their lives in protest.
Haley criticized other, unnamed governments for trying to keep discussion of human rights out of the Security Council. Russia has criticized the Security Council meeting as a violation of Iran’s national sovereignty.
“Human rights are not the gift of governments. They are the inalienable right of the people themselves. Freedom and human dignity cannot be separated from peace and security. When the rights of the people are denied, the people rightly resist. If their concerns are not acknowledged, then peace and security are inevitably threatened,” she argued, citing the Syrian civil war as a “horrible testament to this fact.”
“The Iranian regime’s contempt for the rights of its people has been widely documented for many years. The people of Iran have finally had enough, and they are showing it by taking to the streets,” she said.
“The Iranian people understand the nature of their regime. They understand that their lack of voice in their government has allowed the regime to ignore them, and it has allowed the regime to spread conflict and instability far and wide,” Haley said.
She pointed to the six billion dollars Iran spends every year on “propping up the murderous Assad regime” in Syria, millions spent on Shiite militias in Iraq, and millions given to the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
“Meanwhile, the average Iranian family is 15 percent poorer today than it was ten years ago,” she pointed out. “The regime gives low-interest loans to the elite and well-connected. It rewards construction contracts to corrupt Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-affiliated firms. They construct buildings that skimp on safety. Thousands of these buildings collapsed during an earthquake. Hundreds died.”
“Today, the people of Iran are speaking to their government, and their message is undeniable: Stop the support for terrorism. Stop giving billions of our money to killers and dictators. Stop taking our wealth and spending it on foreign fighters and proxy wars. Think of us,” Haley said.
“The Iranian regime is cutting off Internet access in an attempt to shut down communication among the protesters,” she charged. “They are attempting to silence the voice of the Iranian people. We cannot allow that to happen. Every U.N. member state is sovereign, but member states cannot use sovereignty as a shield when they categorically deny their people human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
“Let there be no doubt whatsoever: the United States stands unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves, prosperity for their families, and dignity for their nation,” Haley declared. “We will not be quiet. No dishonest attempt to call the protesters ‘puppets of foreign powers’ will change that. The Iranian people know the truth, and we know the truth. They are acting of their own will, on their own behalf, for their own future. Nothing will stop Americans from standing in solidarity with them.”
“In 2009, the world stood by passively while the hopes of the Iranian people were crushed by their government. In 2018, we will not be silent,” Haley vowed. “The Iranian regime is now on notice. The world will be watching what you do.”