16 February 2010
During a debate at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Iran has tried to brush aside allegations that it regularly resorts to torture, executions and mass detentions of opponents of the regime and claimed instead that it promotes and defends human rights. Iran is “in full compliance with the relevant international commitments it has taken on in a genuine and long-term approach to safeguard human rights,” Mohammad Larijani, secretary-general of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, told the Human Rights Council, which is conducting its first regular review of Iran. “The situation of human rights has been consistently used as a tool to apply pressure against us,” Larijani said.
Western representatives painted a different picture. US Assistant Secretary of State Michael H. Posner told the council that since disputed presidential elections in June, Iran had suppressed the protests of millions of Iranians, “often resorting to violence,” resulting in detentions, injuries and deaths. Posner called for immediate action by Iran to end torture and said Iran’s statement was “strikingly at odds with the reality on the ground. British UN Ambassador Peter Gooderham called on Tehran to invite UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to investigate post-election violence and assess the state of human rights there, and to accept a visit by UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay. Gooderham’s French counterpart, Jean-Baptiste Mattei, said Iran had launched “a bloody repression” of its own population.
Iran is believed to be seeking membership of the 47-member Human Rights Council at the upcoming elections in May.
Outside the UN compound in Geneva, the coalition Iran 2010: All Rights Reserved? - comprised of organizations such as Neda for a Free Iran, Stop Child Executions, the World Jewish Diplomatic Corps of the World Jewish Congress, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, and others - joined Iranian dissidents and opponents of the regime at a rally. The demonstrations will continue until Wednesday, when the review is expected to be formally adopted by the Human Rights Council.
Meital Nir of the World Jewish Diplomatic Corps presented the recommendations of the coalition, which urge the United Nations to demand that the Iranian government comply with its international obligations, that Iran abolish the death penalty for child offenders, and that it ensure the protection of any detainee from torture.
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