UN rebukes Iran for rights abuses

Statement marks one-year anniversary of bloody election protests.

eileen chamberlain 311 (photo credit: AP)
eileen chamberlain 311
(photo credit: AP)
GENEVA — Western nations rebuked Iran over its human rights record Tuesday after overcoming an attempt by Iran and its Muslim allies to block the statement from being read aloud in the UN Human Rights Council.
The United States and Norway pressured Iran to make good on its pledge to improve human rights in the country by crafting a statement that won the backing of all 27 European Union nations and more than two dozen other countries.
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The statement, delivered by Norwegian Ambassador Bente Angell-Hansen, expressed concern over a "lack of progress in the protection of human rights in Iran," especially since the widespread arrests and bloody crackdowns against dissidents that followed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election on June 12, 2009.
Iran's shortcomings extend to "the violent suppression of dissent, detention and executions without due process of law, severe discrimination against women and minorities including people of Bah'ai faith, and restrictions of expression and religion," said the statement. It was agreed to by 56 nations, less than a third of all UN member nations.
"We cannot let this Human Rights Council session go by without marking the one-year anniversary of these events this month," they said.
Iranian, Pakistani envoys slam rebuke
Iranian Ambassador Hamid Baeidi Nejad had interrupted Angell-Hansen and used a procedural maneuver to quash the statement during a morning session.
Also protesting on behalf of Iran was the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Pakistani Ambassador Zamir Akram, speaking for the 56-nation organization, said it was unfair to single out one country in a discussion that was supposed to be about a landmark human rights conference in Vienna in 1993.
Rights groups also have complained that Iran hasn't allowed UN investigators to visit in recent years and isn't fulfilling its obligations under international treaties.
Washington's envoy to the council said the statement was initiated by her government and its release was timed to come after last week's adoption of new UN Security Council sanctions over Iran's nuclear program.
"In the end, the statement itself was a victory," Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe told reporters. She acknowledged, however, that she hadn't completely understood the procedural maneuvering that had taken place in the chamber.