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UN General Assembly Criticises Iran's Discrimination of Minorities

The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favour of a resolution proposed by the Canadian government which criticised Iran's appalling human rights record and its treatment of ethnic minorities (click here for details).

The motion (A/C.3/61/L.41), which received the support of 70 governments on Tuesday, expressed "serious concern at the continuing harassment, intimidation and persecution of human rights defenders, non-governmental organizations, political opponents, religious dissenters, webloggers and union members, among others." It comes just days after the European Parliament gave a damning indictment of the regime's human rights record, highlighting the planned execution of 11 Ahwazi Arab political activists.

The General Assembly also voiced "serious concern at a persistent failure in Iran to comply fully with international standards in the administration of justice – including the absence of due process of law, the refusal to provide fair and public hearings, and the denial of the right to counsel by detainees."

The motion also highlights "increasing discrimination and other human rights violations against ethnic and religious minorities" and calls on Iran to eliminate discrimination based on religious, ethnic or linguistic grounds. Women's rights and political freedoms were also under attack, according to the UN. The General Assembly encouraged the UN Human Rights Council and various Special Rapporteurs to pursue their work regarding Iran, and for the Assembly to continue its examination of the situation at its sixty-second session.

The Iranian regime reacted angrily to the international community's condemnation of its human rights record, with its representative calling the motion "another politically motivated exercise pursued by the Government of Canada to serve its narrow political purposes and interests," although he did not identify what those interests were. Rather than address the General Assembly's concerns, the Iranian representative alleged that Canada had "a questionable human rights record, particularly concerning indigenous peoples." He added that "the draft consisted of baseless accusations and unfounded claims, and the situation it described in Iran was predicated on the sponsor's illusions and fantasies." Signalling the regime's defiance, Iran's UN representative claimed that criticism of the country's human rights violations "could diminish prospects for cooperation and understanding on human rights."

Countries supporting the resolution included all the members of the European Union. North Korea, Zimbabwe and Uzbekistan voted with Iran against the motion.

Meanwhile, British Members of the European Parliament have also called on UN Secretary General to intervene against the ethnic cleansing of Ahwazi Arabs (click here for details).