Story via AFP, news.com.au
UN slams N Korea, Iran on human rights
A KEY UN committee passed resolutions condemning human rights abuses by North Korea and Iran amid growing Western pressure for action.
An annual vote on North Korea was passed by consensus for the first time, with not even close ally China voting against.
But a reduced majority passed a similar condemnation of Iran’s human rights record at the UN General Assembly committee, which was also to vote on Syria’s case.
The resolution on North Korea, prepared by European nations, slammed the “systematic, widespread and grave violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights,” in the tightly controlled Stalinist nation.
It highlighted the use of torture and prison camps and draconian restrictions on freedom of movement.
North Koreans can be executed for trying to flee the country, according to activists. And a UN special rapporteur on North Korea, former Indonesian foreign minister Marzuki Darusman, has estimated there are 150,000-200,000 people in North Korean prison camps.
A North Korean diplomat at the meeting, Kim Song, called the resolution “state political terrorism.” He rejected all the allegations against his country.
China did not vote against but along with other allies such as Iran made it known that it opposed any resolution that concentrates on one country.
A similar condemnation of Iran was passed with 83 votes in favor, 31 against and 68 abstaining. Last year, 86 countries backed the resolution and 32 opposed it.
The resolution, again prepared by Western nations, hit out at torture and executions in Iran, “widespread” restrictions of freedom and “pervasive” violence against women.
Iran’s UN ambassador Mohammad Khazaee said the resolution was unbalanced and contained 150 “unsubstantiated” allegations. China, Russia and Syria were among those who voted against.
All the resolutions passed by the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which concentrates on human rights, are non-binding, but they are also the subject of fierce diplomatic lobbying.
The resolutions will go to a formal vote in the General Assembly in December where they should be easily passed.
During UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon’s recent visit to Tehran calls were made to let him meet Iranian opposition leaders, in order to give a more complete picture of the political landscape in the country and mostly of the true state of human rights in Iran – Expected to be drastically less bright than the image presented by the authorities.
These requests were declined, right about when Khamenei made strategic remarks denouncing the UN and some of it’s bodies “undemocratic”. On August 30 during the NAM Summit, Khamenei slammed the “overt dictatorship” of the U.N. Security Council in a speech opening the NAM summit that included U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon in the audience.
“The U.N. Security Council has an irrational, unjust and utterly undemocratic structure, and this is an overt dictatorship,” Khamenei told the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement summit.”*
In the meanwhile, Iranian opposition leaders are trapped in their own homes, subjects of a house arrest, for over 18 months now. How could this situation be contained by a regime in a country that declares itself democratic and calls for revisions of structure and participation in the UN based on grounds of inherent “dictatorship”?
Yashar Khameneh, a 25-year-old Iranian student living in Holland, is receiving international attention for his efforts to release his father from a Tehran prison over the younger Khameneh’s satirical Facebook posting about a revered Muslim cleric. The posting first appeared on someone else’s site, but Khameneh also put some satirical posts on his own site, which led Iranian authorities to his family, this year, after a rapper made fun of the same cleric.
His father called him at the end of May to tell him that agents of Iran’s intelligence wanted access information for the Facebook pages with the intent of removing the offensive material. While Khameneh closed down his personal site, he could not get the satire site to remove his material. The next day, his mother and sister called him to say that his father had been imprisoned and would remain in jail until the post was removed and that’s where things stand.
Shahin Najafi, an Iranian rapper based in Germany last month became known as “the Salman Rushdie of music” after clerics in the Islamic republic issued fatwas calling him an apostate, which is considered punishable by death under sharia law. He had released a song with references to the imam.
A new court date has been set for Youcef Nadarkhani, the Iranian pastor on death row who has been imprisoned for nearly 1,000 days, but his supporters remain in the dark about what it could mean for his ultimate fate.
Nadarkhani, 35, is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 8, according to Jordan Sekulow, executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice, which has been closely monitoring the case.
“We do not know the purpose of the appearance or the likelihood of new charges,” Sekulow told. “We want to dispel any rumors that his current apostasy charge, for which he was sentenced to death, has been removed. Until the regime unconditionally exonerates and releases Pastor Youcef, his apostasy charge stands.”
IRAN (BosNewsLife)– Iran this month released at least four former Muslims who were detained because of their conversion to Christianity and Christian activities, according to friends and rights activists.
The advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC) confirmed to BosNewsLife that Ladan N., 26, and Hooman H., 27, were freed on bail June 10 as they paid 325,000 dollars each after one week of solitary confinement and 58 days of regular detention in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.
Christians did not reveal the full names of the young men amid security concerns.
Iranian authorities reportedly charged the Christians with “apostasy”, or abandoning Islam, as well as “actions against national security” which officials said included “desecrating holy figures” on the Internet, attending unauthorized house churches and “going to a party to celebrate the baptism of a Christian believer.”
The two men were allegedly often interrogated along with their summoned parents.
Also on June 10, Iran released Pastor Mehdi “Petros” Foroutan who served about one year in Abel Abad Prison in the city of Shiraz, following a police crackdown on his and other house churches, a spokesman told BosNewsLife earlier.
Jason DeMars, who helped the 27-year-old pastor with advocacy, explained that Foroutan was released after his jail sentence for “crimes against national security” because of his Christian faith.”
Pastor Mehdi “Petros” Foroutan was recently released.
Additional death-sentence-carrying charges of “blasphemy”, the word used for “abandoning Islam”, were dropped, Christians said earlier.
He one of five Christians who were summoned in September 2011 to arrive at the detention facility to serve the prison term. A summon against another believer was eventually dropped, while three others “still need protection,” MEC said.
Shortly before the pastor’s release, authorities on June 7 freed a Christian woman, Forough Dashtiani, who was jailed with her husband Mehrdad Sajjadi last month.
Samira Ghorbani Danesh, 24, says she fled Iran for fear of repression for being a lesbian. A German court has denied her asylum request, ruling that she can live unbothered back in her native country so long as she hides her homosexuality.