Global solidarity against Iran’s bloody crackdown on a women-led protest movement will be tested on Wednesday, as world powers vote on whether to oust the country from a UN body tasked with empowering women.
Activists and rights groups say Tehran’s role in the 45-member commission on the status of women is a farce, considering the regime’s forces have beaten and killed women peacefully calling for gender equality.
The UN economic and social council (Ecosoc), which oversees the commission, will gather in New York to consider a US-drafted resolution to remove Iran “with immediate effect”.
Tehran has just started a four-year term on the commission.
The vote is expected to pass, with many of the council’s 54 members in support, including the UK. However, Tehran and its allies have been pressuring members, and the final number of abstentions will give an indication of diplomatic disunity over the issue.
Iran and several allies wrote to the council on Monday, arguing that a vote would “undoubtedly create an unwelcome precedent”. Their letter urged members not to back the draft vote to avoid a “new trend for expelling sovereign and rightfully elected states from any given body of the international system”.
Last month, a separate UN body, the human rights council, voted overwhelmingly to set up a fact-finding investigation into human rights abuses in Iran, a move that could make prosecutions in international courts more probable.
The UN says more than 300 people have been killed in the crackdown, including at least 40 children. Medics have told the Guardian that women are being singled out at protests, with security forces firing shotguns at their faces, breasts and genitals.
The Tehran regime has imprisoned hundreds and begun what is expected to be a campaign of public executions. Authorities on Monday hanged a man from a crane for allegedly killing two members of a pro-regime militia, the second execution in less than a week of people involved in protests against Iran’s ruling theocracy.
Amnesty International believes 20 more people are at risk of execution for alleged offences in connection with the protests
Nationwide unrest erupted almost three months ago after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman who was arrested by morality police that enforce Iran’s mandatory dress code laws. Amini was allegedly beaten into a coma and died in hospital.
The demonstrations have turned into a popular revolt that poses one of the biggest challenges to the Shia clerical elite since they took power in a 1979 revolution.
Iran blames foreign enemies and the media for the unrest, and says dozens of security forces have been killed by “terrorists”.
Reuters contributed to this report