EXCLUSIVE: Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is calling for President Biden to demand the removal of Iran from the U.N. women’s commission in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini — a death that has sparked protests and a brutal response from the theocratic regime.
“Having the fanatical Iranian dictatorship sit on a commission focused on women’s rights has always been a joke,” Haley said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “It’s even worse with the murder of Mahsa Amini.”
The regime, which has restricted women’s rights for decades, joined the Commission on the Status of Women earlier this year — a move that sparked outrage and pushback given the regime’s record. The U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women is, according to its mission statement, the “principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.”
Iran’s presence on the commission has been again put under the spotlight in the wake of the death of Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died in police custody after being arrested under the country’s strict laws about wearing a hijab.
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The protests, in which girls and women have removed their hijabs, have quickly enveloped the country and mark one of the most significant threats to the stability of the regime in recent years. There have been protests in at least 19 cities across the country. The deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, said the average age of protesters arrested by the regime is 15.
The hardline President Ebrahim Raisi has dismissed the protesters as “flies,” and authorities have engaged in a brutal and deadly crackdown. It is not clear how many have been killed, but human rights groups have said there could have been more than 200 deaths so far.
“Countless Iranian women and girls have been killed in their fight for basic human rights,” Haley said. “President Biden should demand Iran’s removal from the UN women’s commission.”
Asked about calls to oust Iran from the U.N. body earlier this week, a White House spokesperson told Fox News Digital that it did not have any “actions to preview.” However, they noted that “Iran’s membership on the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women is, frankly, laughable. We have been always clear that it is outrageous that some of the worst human rights abusers, like Iran, sit on certain U.N. commissions. And this is a perfect example.”
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“And we’ve been clear in joining the global condemnation of Iran’s violent oppression of women and the violent suppression of protests. As you saw, we were one of the 54 countries that issued a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for Iran to stop this violent crackdown.”
A spokesperson for U.N. Women said it does not comment on decisions by members states related to their representation on the commission.
“U.N. Women works with all U.N. member states to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Commission on the Status of Women is the global community’s premier intergovernmental body on women’s rights, and any country holding one of the 45 seats at the commission is an indication that the country is willing to actively work within the mandate of this important body and its agenda,” they said.
Haley was U.N. ambassador at a time when the U.S. was putting pressure on the Iranian regime, including by withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal and re-imposing waves of sanctions under a “maximum pressure” campaign.
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The Biden administration has changed strategy and has been seeking to re-enter the Iran deal. However, talks to do so have collapsed. Haley has been a top critic of the Biden administration’s efforts to revive the deal, including describing such efforts as a “slap in the face” to Israel and America’s Arab allies.
The administration has said this week that it is not focused on the Iran deal talks, accusing Iran of being not interested in making a deal, and said that instead it is focused on the protests — while praising the Iranian protesters for their courage and bravery.
“This is, in many ways, not a new story; this has been going on for years, for decades,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday. “But in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death and the spontaneous demonstration of outrage that this has produced, I think we are seeing something that is quite remarkable throughout the country, led primarily by women and young people.
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Biden also acknowledged the protests on Friday, saying that the U.S. stands “with the citizens and brave women of Iran.”
“It’s stunned me what [Amini’s death] awakened in Iran, and its awakened something I don’t think will be quieted in a long, long time.”
Fox News’ Benjamin Weinthal and The Associated Press contributed to this report.