UN committee criticizes human rights violations in Iran
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UN committee criticizes human rights violations in Iran

Resolution singles out discrimination against women and the intimidation and persecution of religious minorities, and is virtually certain to be approved next month

File: The 73rd United Nations General Assembly on September 29, 2018, at the United Nations in New York. (AFP/Don Emmert)
File: The 73rd United Nations General Assembly on September 29, 2018, at the United Nations in New York. (AFP/Don Emmert)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A UN committee on human rights approved a resolution Thursday urging Iran to stop its widespread use of arbitrary detention and expressing serious concern at its “alarmingly high” use of the death penalty.

The General Assembly’s Human Rights Committee adopted the resolution by a vote of 85-30, with 68 abstentions. It is virtually certain to be approved by the 193-member world body next month.

The resolution “strongly urges” Iran to eliminate discrimination against women in law and practice and expresses “serious concern about ongoing severe limitations and restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.”

It singles out violations including harassment, intimidation and persecution against religious minorities including Christians, Gonabadi Dervishes, Jews, Sufi Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Yarsanis, Zoroastrians and members of the Baha’i faith — and urges the release of religious practitioners including Baha’i leaders.

The resolution, sponsored by Canada, also calls on Iran to end “widespread and serious restrictions” including on freedom of assembly of political opponents, human rights defenders, labor leaders, environmentalists, academics, filmmakers, journalists, bloggers, social media users and others.

An Iranian Jewish youth group prays at the Rabeezadeh Synagogue in Shiraz in southern Iran, April 12, 2000. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

While the resolution welcomes the elimination of the death penalty for some drug-related offenses, it expresses serious concern at the “alarmingly high frequency” of Iran’s use of the death penalty, including against minors.

Iran’s deputy UN ambassador, Eshagh Al Habib, dismissed the resolution as a “political charade,” saying promoting the human rights of Iranians “is not simply a legal and moral responsibility, but a paramount requirement of national security.”

“Similar to any other country, deficiencies may exist, and we are determined to address them,” he said. “However, it is not for those who traditionally, historically and practically supported colonialism, slavery, racism and apartheid to lecture Iranians on human rights.”

Alluding to the resolution’s sponsor and more than 30 co-sponsors, including the United States, Al Habib said that threatening cuts in financial and development funds to get votes “further exposes the dishonesty of these self-assured champions of human rights.”

Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi of Saudi Arabia, a regional rival of Iran, said, “The Iranian people continue to suffer under a regime that does not respect human rights, that denies freedoms, that persecutes religious and racial minorities.” He called on Iran not to “give shelter to terrorists.”

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