Iran letter urges states to skip U.S. meeting on protests at U.N.

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran on Monday urged countries not to attend a U.S.-organized meeting at the United Nations on protests in Iran sparked by the death of a young woman in police custody, according to a letter seen by Reuters that accused Washington of politicizing human rights.

The United States and Albania will hold an informal Security Council meeting on Wednesday, that can be attended by all U.N. members. Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and Iranian-born actress and activist Nazanin Boniadi will brief.

"The U.S. has no true and genuine concern about the human rights situation in Iran or elsewhere," Iran's U.N. Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani wrote in the letter to U.N. member states.

He described the protests as an internal issue and wrote that it would be "counterproductive to the promotion of human rights" if the U.N. Security Council discussed the issue.

"The United States lacks the political, moral, and legal qualifications to hold such a meeting, distorting the very basic principles of human rights," Iravani wrote.

Iran has been gripped by protests since the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody last month. The unrest has turned into a popular revolt by Iranians from all layers of society, posing one of the boldest challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution.

Iran has blamed its foreign enemies and their agents for the unrest.

The meeting at the United Nations on Wednesday aims to "highlight the ongoing repression of women and girls and members of religious and ethnic minority groups in Iran" and identify ways to promote credible, independent investigations into rights abuses in Iran, the U.S. mission to the United Nations said.

Iravani questioned U.S. commitment to defending Iranian women and called on U.N. member states to "explicitly object to such reckless and dangerous practices through which the US attempt to create such a dangerous precedent and politicize human rights issues in order to achieve its political agenda."

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by David Gregorio)