The Telegraph reports Iran is hosting a conference for the families of Black people killed by police violence. The conference will be hosted in Tehran later this year.
Clyde Durgan is one of the people who has agreed to speak at the conference. Durgan’s stepson, Kawanza Jamal Beaty, was shot dead by police on July 4. Beaty was carrying a shotgun, but his family claims that it was not loaded and he did not point it at police.
“I’m interested in coming to the conference. I want to bring awareness. It’s just to bring awareness to the world about what’s going on in America. This is an epidemic and cops are not getting prosecuted,” said Durgan in an interview with The Telegraph.
Durgan added he was not worried about going to the Middle East, a turbulent region.
“We’re more worried about the police killing us than Isis bombing us. It’s terrible when you’ve got to worry about your own country,” he said. “I’m not worried about going to Iran. A Black man in America is just like a foreigner. They’re killing us. We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave but we’re not worried about terrorists, we’re worried about the police.”
Beaty’s death was the latest in a long line of incidents involving Black people either killed by the police or dying in custody. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been a fierce critic of American treatment of Black people.
“In the U.S. Black people are oppressed, disrespected and humiliated, and such behavior has provided the ground for unrest,” Khamenei said.
During the Ferguson protests, Khamenei tweeted several comments about the U.S. government’s treatment of Blacks and Native Americans.
“Was it not colonialists who killed Native Americans & enslaved millions of Africans? Are these American values? #Ferguson #WoundedKnee,” he wrote.
The organizers of the conference told Shargh Daily the seminar was part of their campaign against “world powers.“
“What we are doing is in parallel with diplomatic efforts of our government and in line with the orders of the supreme leader as part of our soft war against world powers,” said the organizers.
Although Iran is critical of America, the country has also been accused of human rights abuse. According to The Times of Israel, freedom of speech is severely limited in the country and Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube are all banned. Human Rights Watch said Iran is the second largest executioner of juvenile offenders next to China and the country has jailed journalists, bloggers and social media activists. Fornication and homosexuality are also punishable crimes. In May 2014, six young people were arrested for dancing and lip synching to Pharrell’s song, Happy, which was deemed “vulgar” and “obscene” by the authorities.