Even as Iran waged a violent crackdown at home that advocacy groups said had killed seven people and injured hundreds more, President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran insisted that his country was a model of justice and human rights as he addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.
Mr. Raisi’s remarks — in a long speech that mixed religious sermons and political rhetoric — made no mention of the widespread anti-government protests or the death of the young woman that had sparked them. Nor did he address the health concerns surrounding the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 83, who was reported to have been gravely ill.
Instead, in his first appearance at the U.N., Mr. Raisi used the stage to criticize the United States and other Western countries that have kept up sanctions against Iran.
“We are the defenders of a fight against injustice,” said Mr. Raisi, who has been accused of crimes against humanity by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for his role in the execution of 5,000 political prisoners in 1980s. He has not denied involvement and has defended the executions.
Mr. Raisi slammed the United States several times during his speech, accusing it of waging cynical wars in the Middle East and unfairly imposing sanctions and pressure on Iran.
“The United States keeps equivocating militarism with security and has pursued its interests in the world at the expense of other countries,” Mr. Raisi said.
On the stalled negotiations to revamp the 2015 deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program, Mr. Raisi reiterated the need for guarantees from Washington that it would not unilaterally exit the deal as it did during the Trump administration. And he repeated Iran’s insistence that it was not developing nuclear weapons.
The protests that have been spreading across Iran began over the weekend after Mahsa Amini, 22, died in the custody of morality police on Friday. She had been arrested on charges of violating the law that mandates hijab headdresses for women in public. Since then, Iranians have taken to the streets of an increasing number of cities to protest her death, and the treatment of women in Iran.
Outside of the U.N. headquarters in New York, groups of Iranians and members of different opposition groups in exile held protests against Mr. Raisi and in solidarity with people in Iran, chanting Ms. Amini’s name as they demonstrated.