Iran Human RightsU.S. and Norway lead bid to rebuke Iran at...

U.S. and Norway lead bid to rebuke Iran at U.N. rights forum

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Reuters: Some 50 countries are poised to censure Iran at the U.N. Human Rights Council for its violent crackdown on dissidents and political opponents after elections a year ago, diplomats and activists said on Monday.

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – Some 50 countries are poised to censure Iran at the U.N. Human Rights Council for its violent crackdown on dissidents and political opponents after elections a year ago, diplomats and activists said on Monday.

The United States and Norway are heavily lobbying other states to endorse the strongly-worded statement, which Oslo’s delegation is expected to present formally on Tuesday at the Geneva-based body, they said.

“We cannot let this Human Rights Council session go by without marking the one-year anniversary of these events this month,” said a draft of the statement, obtained by Reuters.

The 2009 post-election street protests, the worst unrest since the Islamic republic was founded in 1979, were put down violently by the Revolutionary Guards. Mass detentions followed. Two people were hanged and scores of detainees remain in jail.

The Iranian opposition says the vote was rigged to secure the re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The authorities deny the accusations, saying they are part of a Western plot to overthrow the Islamic system.

The move in the Human Rights Council follows Tehran’s ban on an opposition rally planned for the election anniversary last Saturday. It would add to pressure after extended sanctions agreed by the U.N. Security Council to punish Iran for its suspected nuclear weapons programme.

The draft text voices concern at “events including the violent suppression of dissent, detention and executions without due process of law, severe discrimination against women and minorities including people of the Baha’i faith and restrictions on freedom of expression and religion.”

Tehran should allow freedoms of expression, of the media and of assembly, protect religious minorities, respect prisoners’ rights and ensure equal treatment of women and girls, it reads, also calling for Iran to conduct “an independent investigation” into killings, arrests and detentions since the elections.

The text also urges Iran to make good on its promise to allow visits by U.N. human rights investigators.

“It is a strong political statement,” said one activist.

The 47-member Human Rights Council, dominated by developing nations wary of interference in their own records, rarely “names and shames” states. The main exception is Israel, regularly condemned for alleged abuses.

The proposed statement would be read out by Norway on behalf of about 50 states — council members as well as observer states — including the 27-member European Union, diplomats said.

Unlike a resolution, it would not be subject to formal adoption by consensus or a vote.

(Editing by Laura MacInnis; editing by Andrew Roche)

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