U.N. Chief Criticizes Iran Human Rights Abuses
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took to the podium in Tehran yesterday to raise ”serious concerns on the human-rights abuses and violations in this country.” Seated next to a delegation from Iran that included Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, the U.N. chief “reject[ed] threats by any member state to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust,” a reference to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s hostile stance toward Israel. Ban is in Tehran to attend the Nonaligned Movement meeting, an event that, according to Iranian officials, proves the failure of American attempts to isolate Iran.
Divisions at the meeting have emerged over the ongoing Syrian conflict, with only limited support for Iran’s proposed five nation team (Iran, Venezuela, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon) to resolve the conflict. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called for Iran to first “break with the Assad regime and stop providing material support and arms and advisers” to the Syrian government. Delegations also clashed over the Iranian nuclear program amid news that the International Atomic Energy Agency has established a new Iran watchdog group in Vienna.
Despite the disagreements, Professor Ashraf El Sharif of the American University in Cairo said that “the Iranians still managed to come away with some gains from the summit,” including a diplomatic boost from high-profile visits by the Egyptian president and the U.N. chief. Nevertheless, Meir Javedanfar of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center in Israel emphasized that “the summit is not turning out as the Iranians expected.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department expressed concern over the detainment of Iranian-American Amir Hekmati, who has been in prison for a year on charges of spying for the C.I.A. Hekmati was originally sentenced to death after he confessed to the spying charges, but amid accusations that the confession had been coerced, the death sentence was dropped in March and Hekmati is awaiting retrial.