Middle East
Iran dismisses UN rights criticism
UN General Assembly's human rights committee expressed "deep concern" over "ongoing human rights violations" in Iran.
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2010 22:08 GMT
Mohammad Javad Larijani, the Iranian rights envoy, said Iranians do not want a "Western democracy" [EPA]

Iran has rejected a resolution passed by a UN committe condemning Iran's human rights record.

The resolution said the assembly "expresses deep concern at serious ongoing human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran".

Such violations include torture, flogging, amputations, stoning, and "pervasive gender inequality and
violence against women".

It also voiced "particular concern" at what it said was the government's failure to launch a thorough investigation of alleged human rights violations in the wake of the contested presidential elections in 2009, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, was re-elected to the office.

'No political prisoners'

But Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary-general of the Iranian high council for human rights, told Al Jazeera on Friday that Iran holds "no political prisoners" but that the country does have prisoners who are politically "outspoken".

"For example, the lawyers," Larijani said, referring to a number of human rights lawyers who have been arrested in recent months. 

"I mean, we are confronted with a number of people who call themselves lawyers. But in place of going into the corridors of the courts to serve their clients, they fly from one capital in [the] West to another capital to make interviews."

He accused the lawyers of abusing their stations and of starting "propaganda against the state". 

Larijani also compared the case of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani - the woman sentenced to death for adultery and for conspiring to kill her husband - to that of Teresa Lewis, aUS woman executed in September for the murder of her husband and son.

"Here, also, a lady killed her husband with her lover and she was executed, simply, and nothing came out," Larijani said.

US 'provocation'

He earlier told the General Assembly's Third Committee that the United States was behind what he said was an unnecessary and unfair move to single out Tehran.

"The United States of America is the mastermind and the main provocateur," Larijani told the committee, which includes all 192 UN member states. "It has nothing to do with human rights."

He also singled out Canada, which led the 42 nations that co-sponsored the resolution, passed on Thursday by 80 votes to 44, with 57 abstentions.

"Canada has a dismal record on minorities," Larijani said.

"You should reject this text outright," he said. He added that Iranians "do not want a Western democracy".

Philippe Bolopion of Human Rights Watch said the resolution should be a "wake-up call ... [for] a serial rights offender which jails human rights defenders, imprisons journalists and executes its citizens, including political dissidents and juveniles, often without due process."

But a number of developing countries criticised the decision to single out Iran over its human rights record.

The non-aligned bloc of 118 nations issued a statement saying that human rights issues should be dealt with by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and not the General Assembly.

Similar resolutions targeted Myanmar and North Korea.

Lawyers freed

Meanwhile, Iran has freed two lawyers who were detained last weekend on security charges along with three other attorneys, an opposition website reported on Friday.

Kaleme.com, the website of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, identified the two as Maryam Karbasi and Roza Gharachorlu, without providing any details about the conditions and time of their

Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, the Tehran prosecutor, had accused the five arrested at the weekend of "committing security crimes and acts violating the Islamic republic's norms outside the country".

The other three including two women and a man are still being held. Some among the group are known to advocate human rights and to have defended political prisoners.

Several human rights lawyers and activists have been targeted in Iran's ongoing crackdown on dissent, which saw scores of activists, journalists and government critics jailed since last year's election and the ensuing unrest.

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