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Posts Tagged ‘ UN General Assembly ’

  • 19 November 2010
  • Posted By Lily Samimi
  • Human Rights in Iran, UN

UN Resolution on Human Rights in Iran is Same Old Story

Don’t be fooled by the media’s coverage of the new draft resolution on Iran’s human rights situation that advanced yesterday.  While headlines suggested that the US and the international community were doing something serious on Iran, this resolution is not much different than the Iran resolution adopted by the UN last year.

In fact, the UN has been passing similar resolutions on Iran for the past 26 years.  The difference is that from 1985 to 2002, the resolutions established a UN mandate for a human rights monitor on Iran, which actually helped improve the situation there.  But in 2002 the mandate failed by one vote, and there has been no mechanism in place ever since.  With yesterday’s action—which sets up a vote for final passage in December, the UN continues to catalog human rights violations in Iran, but fails to take any concrete steps to actually address the problem.

The resolution did advance with a wide margin of 80 in favor to 44 against and 57 abstentions. This is an even greater margin than last year’s resolution, which came out only months after the June 12th Iranian elections and passed with a margin of 74 in favor to 48 against and 59 abstentions. The issue of Iranian human rights in Iran is just as prominent now as it was a year ago when millions of people across the globe watched the devastating human rights violations unroll during election aftermath. The increase in the vote margin should be seen as window of opportunity to take concrete steps that can offer protection to Iranian victims instead of merely condemning the abuses.

Regardless of the resolution’s weaknesses, we should also not be fooled by the Iranian government’s arguments against the measure. Iranian officials have once again avoided addressing the outrageous human rights abuses in its own country by accusing the United States of abuses and accusing the international community of using human rights to maneuver Iran in a direction towards “westernization”.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, Iran’s human rights representative at the UN and one of Khamenei’s right hand men, argued at the UN General Assembly that the resolution does nothing to contribute to the promotion of human rights and should therefore be discarded. But he wasn’t arguing for a stronger resolution that could do a better job of promoting human rights, he was arguing that the United States is “the mastermind and main provocateur behind a text that had nothing to do with human rights” and that they are using as a “politicization of human rights”.  But human rights do not belong to the United States or Iran, they are a universal value that must be respected.  As a signatory to numerous international treaties on human rights, Iran is bound to uphold these basic rights, and arguments of politicization fall short when human rights defenders like Nasrin Sotoudeh continue to languish in prison.

That being said, addressing Iranian human rights must stand on its own apart from other issues of concern, i.e. nuclear weapons, sanctions, Afghanistan, etc. The US Administration must know the implications of using human rights as front for addressing other important issues – namely Iran’s nuclear capability—and have generally been careful to avoid falling into such a trap.

In order to help stem Iran’s human rights violations, it is crucial for the US to engage the international community to address human rights as a strategic goal unto itself.  The Obama Administration must get serious and step up its efforts at the UN to seek an independent mechanism to monitor Iran’s human rights situation.  Mike Hammer, US National Security Council spokesperson, said that, “by adopting the resolution, the international community has sent an unequivocal message to the Iranian government that universal rights must be respected.” But this message has been conveyed repeatedly to no avail.   It’s time to get serious and pursue a concrete approach by establishing a human rights monitor.

  • 23 September 2009
  • Posted By Matthew Negreanu
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Ahmadinejad’s NY presser

From Associated Press:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged President Barack Obama to see Iran as a potential friend instead of a threat ahead of addresses both leaders will give to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday. The Iranian leader also said in a wide-ranging Associated Press interview Tuesday that he expects “free and open” discussion of nuclear issues at a meeting next week with six world powers, but stressed that his country would not negotiate on its own nuclear plans.

He sought to open a wider nuclear dialogue with the West, and said the onus should be on the United States and other major nuclear powers to give up their weapons and to expand opportunities for all countries to make peaceful use of nuclear power. Speaking to AP reporters and editors just hours after arriving in the United States, Ahmadinejad said he will seek a quick resolution to the case of three American hikers jailed in Iran. He dismissed last week’s U.S. shift away from a planned long-range missile shield in Europe, meant to guard against an Iranian strike, as “a respectful way of buying out” Russian objections. “I heard Mr. Obama saying the next threat is Iran. Iran is an opportunity for everyone,” Ahmadinejad said. The Iranian leader said Obama is not the first U.S. president to believe Iran is a threat and said the president should read up on history “to see what the fate is of viewing these problems from this perspective.” “Historically, whoever made friends with Iran saw a lot of opportunities,” Ahmadinejad said. The Iranian president’s remarks on those and other issues in an hour-long interview at his New York hotel appeared designed to present his country as open to a broad international dialogue and to soften Iran’s image as a rogue nation bent on spreading its Islamic revolution. Ahmadinejad reiterated explicitly that Iran is not building nuclear weapons. “I hope that Mr. Obama will move in the direction of change,” Ahmadinejad said. At another point he said, “The sources of insecurity around the world need to be discussed.”

When asked about the three American hikers, Ahmadinejad said they broke the law by illegally entering Iran. Nevertheless, Ahmadinejad said he will ask the Iranian judiciary to treat the case with “maximum lenience.” Ahmadinejad also was asked about the case of an Iranian-Canadian journalist, Maziar Bahari, who was working for Newsweek magazine and imprisoned while covering the social unrest in Iran after the disputed June presidential election. Ahmadinejad did not reply about Bahari, limiting his remarks to the case of the hikers. The ambassador at Iran’s mission at the United Nations, Mohammad Khazee, said later that he hoped the case of Bahari would also be resolved.

Ahmadinejad said he regrets the deaths of protesters in the violence that followed his country’s disputed presidential elections, but denied that his government had any role in the killings. Ahmadinejad said those who died were “not at fault.” He instead said the responsibility lies with Iranian opposition politicians and with “European and American politicians” who he said fueled the violence. “We believe what they did was very wrong,” he said. Iran’s pro-reform opposition has staged dramatic protests, claiming that Ahmadinejad’s victory in the June voting was fraudulent. The Iranian government waged a bloody crackdown and opposition groups say at least 72 protesters were killed. Government officials maintain that only 36 people died, and Ahmadinejad repeated that claim. “It is all very regrettable,” Ahmadinejad said, adding that he has directed Iran’s judicial system to investigate each death. “The government has no role in these events.”

Ahmadinejad muted his remarks on the Holocaust, an event he has frequently questioned as a matter of historical fact. Using markedly less confrontational language than he has in the past, Ahmadinejad said he is not interested in debating historical details. Instead, he said he wants to focus on what he calls the wrong done to Palestinians who lost their land when the state of Israel was formed. Ahmadinejad said the Holocaust is used as a pretext for the repression of Palestinians. He grouped the deaths of Jews during World War II with those of millions of others who died. Ahmadinejad repeated his nation’s interest in cooperating to help stabilize Afghanistan and help Iraq, but blamed the United States for having created chaos in the war-torn country on Iran’s eastern border. “The occupying forces or the groups that have sent in the military to these two states, if indeed their policy has led to further instability, what do they want us to do?” Ahmadinejad said. “What exactly can we do for a car that has decided to speed up and basically crash down the hill? I don’t see exactly what we can do under that scenario.”

  • 21 September 2009
  • Posted By Matthew Negreanu
  • Iran Election 2009

A cool reception awaits Ahmadinejad delegation at UN

According to Fars News Agency eight MPs will accompany Ahmadinejad to the UN’s General Assembly this week:

“All the five representatives of (Iran’s) religious minorities along with three other lawmakers will accompany the president in his trip to New York,” member of the parliament’s Presiding Board Hojjatoleslam Seyed Mohammad-Reza Mirtajeddini told FNA. Ahmadinejad will leave Tehran on Tuesday and is due to address the UN General Assembly meeting on its inauguration day along with US President Barack Obama and Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi.

Earlier this month, Ahmadinejad’s office announced that it was working on the president’s itinerary for the visit to New York, mentioning that the office had received a number of requests and proposals in the same regard. Meeting Iranian expatriates in the US, conferring with the participating heads of state, attending interviews with US media, meeting different religious leaders and addressing American students are among the same requests which might have been included in Ahmadinejad’s agenda for the trip.

Speaking from our own experience here in Washington, DC, it has become clear that the majority of groups and individuals who have met with Ahmadinejad on his past visits to New York are now organizing a campaign to boycott such events.  In previous years, progressive leaders, religious organizations, and Iran scholars have often met with the Iranian delegation to the UNGA.  However, in light of this year’s disputed presidential election and the violent crackdown on dissent in Iran, nearly all of these would-be guests of the President’s have declined any and all invitations to meet.

Press TV is also reporting that Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has arrived in New York on Monday to take part in the general debates of the 64th session of the UN General Assembly.

  • 21 September 2009
  • Posted By Matthew Negreanu
  • Diplomacy, UN

Mottaki in New York

This morning from Press TV:

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has arrived in New York to take part in the general debates of the 64th session of the UN General Assembly. Mottaki’s arrival comes a day before President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s scheduled arrival, Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported Monday.

Other than President Ahmadinejad, the US President Barack Obama and the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu are among other heads of states that will address the General Assembly with quite different perspectives. While President Ahmadinejad’s speech is expected to focus on the need for establishment of a global peace, a world without nuclear weapons, and security in the Middle East, it is widely expected that Netanyahu’s address will focus on blaming Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to its security and ‘global peace’. According to the American UN Ambassador Susan Rice, Obama’s speech will address topics such as terrorism, genocide, mass atrocities, cyber attacks, nuclear activities in Iran and North Korea, pandemic diseases and international criminal networks.

  • 1 September 2009
  • Posted By Matthew Negreanu
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009, UN

As expected, Ahmadinejad to deliver UNGA speech

Ahmadinejad’s media adviser, Ali-Akbar Javanfekr told the media on Tuesday that Ahmadinejad will deliver a speech at this year’s United Nations General Assembly meeting in September. Press TV has more:

An aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the Iranian official plans to travel to New York to deliver a speech at the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. The visit, which will be President Ahmadinejad’s first trip to the West since he took office after the June 12 presidential election, will take place on September 23.

Since his election in 2005, the Iranian president has regularly attended UN summits at the United Nations headquarters in New York and delivered controversial speeches. “The president’s trip to New York is still on his agenda and relevant officials here in Tehran are working on the necessary preparations,” President Ahmadinejad’s media adviser Ali-Akbar Javanfekr told Reuters on Tuesday. “The date of his arrival there and the length of his visit depend on coordination between Tehran and the United Nations. This is the same for the day of his speech,” he added.

The visit will also coincide with a September deadline set by the United States for Iran to respond to an offer of negotiations to resolve the nuclear dispute. In reaction to the deadline, Iran said on Tuesday that it had prepared an updated nuclear package and was ready to hold talks with world powers on its nuclear program.

  • 24 August 2009
  • Posted By Matthew Negreanu
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Religious minorities under pressure to help Ahmadinejad’s image at UN

According to rahe sabz (jaras), Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is pressuring members of Parliament who represent Iran’s religious minorities to accompany him on a trip to the United Nations in September.

A source close to the religious minorities’ representatives in Parliament says that Ahmadinejad is strongly pressuring the leaders in order to demonstrate his support for freedom of religion in Iran, in an attempt to smooth over his standing in the eyes of the international community.

  • 17 August 2009
  • Posted By Matthew Negreanu
  • Iran Election 2009

Ahmadinejad’s delegation fears protests at UN

The pro-reformist website Emruz has obtained a letter from the Iranian Interest Section in Washington, D.C. inviting select Iranian-Americans to meet with Mahmoud Ahamdinejad in New York during the UN General Assembly meeting in September.  The recipients of the letter are instructed to only invite “trusted” Iranian-Americans, out of concern that participants will make a scene and embarrass Ahmadinejad.

Large numbers of Iranian Americans are expected to protest against Ahmadinejad when he goes to the UN.

NYT Interview with Ahmadinejad in New York

Let no one say that Ahmadinejad is a stupid man.  His public persona is so fiery and controversial, yet in private he is reserved, calm, and accessable.  Seeing him in this setting, it would be easy for one to forget the vicious vitriol that he flung just moments before from the podium in front of the UN General Assembly.  (or possibly his uniquely hostile rhetoric toward Israel and the United States…or his government’s abysmal human rights record…or his bizarre and ridiculous statement about there being no gays in Iran…etc).

What strikes me about all this is that his hostility toward Israel and the US is not visceral; it’s rational, thought out, and developed policy.  If he can hold onto these radical ideas in such a calm and polite discussion, then it must–at least in his own mind–make sense.

Sign the Petition


7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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