UANI Calls On U.S. State Department To Rescind Visa Of Iran’s Vice President For Women And Family Affairs Ensieh Khazali

(New York, NY) – This week, in a letter to Ambassador Rena Bitter, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) called on the U.S. Department of State to rescind the visa for Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Ensieh Khazali, who is in New York this week attending meetings connected with the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women’s (CSW) 68th annual commission.

In the letter, UANI CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace points out that Iran and Khazali’s presence at the CSW meetings is counterintuitive to the CSW68's stated goal of “accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.”

“We remain highly concerned at the State Department’s overly generous policy of granting visas to Iranians officials complicit in the regime’s systemic gender apartheid,” Ambassador Wallace writes in the letter. “Given Khazali’s direct role in women’s rights abuses in Iran, we call on the State Department to revoke her visa.”

Tehran was ousted from membership in the CSW in 2022 for making a mockery of the commission, and Khazali has a long history of enabling women’s rights abuses in Iran. Khazali is a supporter of child marriage and opposed UNESCO’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which calls on member-states to “eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training.”

The visa was granted to Khazali despite the Iranian regime’s continued systemic repression of women and girls. Granting Khazali access to the U.S. blatantly undermines the Biden administration’s stated commitment to holding Iran accountable for the abuses it is committing against its people, notably peaceful protesters, women and girls and threatens the U.S. and its allies on American soil.

The U.S. is under no legal obligation to grant visas for United Nations-related travel. In 1988, the Reagan administration declined a visa to Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), based on his record of terrorism. The Obama administration also stopped Iran’s attempt to send Hamid Aboutalebi to the U.N. in 2014 because of his involvement in the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979. 

Khazali is currently scheduled to be in the U.S. for six days, and UANI has requested a response from Ambassador Bitter by Wednesday, March 13.

To read the full letter to Ambassador Bitter, please click here.