A security officer at the UN Human Rights Council removed a photo of slain Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani that Iran’s ambassador to the UN displayed as he was speaking at the council on Tuesday, according to a video circulating online.
Killing Soleimani was an “illegal” act that has “endangered world peace and security,” Esmaeil Baghaei-Hamaneh, Iran's permanent representative to the UN office in Geneva, told the council.
Baghaei-Hamaneh had a framed photo of Soleimani next to him which a UN security officer removed a few minutes into the ambassador’s speech.
Some Iranian pro-regime social media users criticised Baghaei-Hamaneh for not stopping the officer from taking down Soleimani’s picture.
“Why didn’t the Iranian ambassador stop the UN employee who took down the photo of martyr Soleimani?” tweeted one user.
“If I were the ambassador, I would have hit the officer … they can’t even stand his photo,” another user said.
In a report released earlier this week, a UN expert deemed the US killing of Soleimani in January as “unlawful.”
Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force, the overseas arms of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was killed in a US airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport on January 3.
“Major General Soleimani was in charge of Iran military strategy, and actions, in Syria and Iraq. But absent an actual imminent threat to life, the course of action taken by the US was unlawful,” Agnes Callamard, the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said in a report released on Tuesday.
In response, US State Department Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said on Wednesday Callamard’s “tendentious and tedious report undermines human rights by giving a pass to terrorists.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also rejected Callamard’s report, calling its conclusions “spurious.”
“The strike that killed General Soleimani was in response to an escalating series of armed attacks in preceding months by the Islamic Republic of Iran and militias it supports on US forces and interests in the Middle East region,” Pompeo said in a statement on Thursday.
The strike “was conducted to deter Iran from launching or supporting further attacks against the US or US interests, and to degrade the capabilities of the Quds Force,” added Pompeo.