Top UN human rights official to visit Iran

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay going to Islamic Republic despite Deputy FM Ayalon's objections.

February 11, 2011 14:57
2 minute read.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

United Nations Navi Pillay 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay plans to visit Iran in the near future.

"I will be going because it is part of my mandate to protect the human rights of Iran," Pillay said on Friday at a Jerusalem press conference, that wrapped up her week visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

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"As high commissioner for human rights I go wherever I am needed or I ask to go where I am need. So many countries are closed to the high commissioner, they do not invite them," said Pillay.

"I have been invited by the national human rights institution of Iran," said Pillay who added that her upcoming visit had the support of the Iranian government.

"This invitation was made in the human right council," said Pillay, who explained that a date for the visit had yet to be set.

Pillay has not visited Iran since taking office in 2008, but past human rights commissioners have made visits to the country.

She took the opportunity to attack a press statement issued mid-week by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who said that when the two met he had urged her not to visit Iran, which had so maliciously violates human rights and calls for genocide.

Pillay told reporters at the Jerusalem press conference that she had sent a letter to Ayalon, on Thursday in which she said, "I was surprised to read that you, according  to this press statement, had expressed  'fear that the forthcoming visit of the High Commissioner to Iran will legitimize the Iranian regime, and that you had asked me to 'cancel' this supposedly' forthcoming visit.

"As I am sure you will recall, you made no such statement to me during our meeting, as we never discussed this matter.

"In addition I pointed out to him that several other substantial parts of the quoted text were never said to me at all ,or were delivered differently," she said.

An Israeli official who was present at the meeting between Pillay and Ayalon said in response that Iran had been discussed between the two and that the Deputy Foreign Minister had relayed his concerns about the visit to Pillay.

The official said that the press statement was an accurate reflections of Ayalon's comments to Pillay.

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