Canadian-led resolution on Iran approved by UN General Assembly

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution expressing “deep concern at serious human rights violations” in Iran on Thursday 18 December 2008. The resolution, initially tabled by Canada and passed by a UN committee four weeks ago, was approved by the full General Assembly late yesterday.

“The Baha’i Community of Canada is pleased to see that the international community has shown such firm support for the victims of systemic human rights violations in Iran,” said Karen McKye, Secretary General of the Baha’is of Canada. “We are grateful that over the past five years the Canadian Government has taken the lead in tabling a resolution that has garnered world-wide support. We note the strong language of the resolution condemning the treatment of Iran’s largest religious minority, the Baha’is.”

The resolution, which passed by a vote of 69 to 54, specifically criticized Iran’s use of torture, the high incidence of executions, the “violent repression” of women, and “increasing discrimination” against Baha’is, Christians, Jews, Sufis, Sunni Muslims, and other minorities.

“Iran should reflect upon and glean from this vote that, sadly, countries from Finland to Fiji are more concerned about the rights of ordinary Iranian citizens than the Iranian government itself,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

“The General Assembly is the world’s most representative body, and the fact that this represents the 21st such resolution expressing concern over human rights in Iran since 1985 should leave no doubt that this is not about ‘politicization,’ as the Iranian government likes to say, but a genuine concern for universally acknowledged rights.

“Regretfully, despite outcries like this and the recent report of the UN secretary general, the human rights situation in Iran grows worse each day. Nevertheless, we remain hopeful that expressions of concern like this will cause Iranian leaders to rethink their stance on human rights in respect for the rights that have been so widely accepted by other nations,” she said.

The resolution takes particular note of attacks on Baha’is, noting “increasing evidence of efforts by the State to identify and monitor Baha’is, preventing members of the Baha’i Faith from attending university and from sustaining themselves economically, and the arrest and detention of seven Baha’i leaders without charge or access to legal representation.”

Ms. Dugal noted that there are at least 20 Baha’is currently in jail, including the national Baha’i leadership of seven members who were arrested last March and May and are being held in Evin prison without charges. More than 100 others have been arrested and released on bail over the last four years as part of a stepped-up government effort at persecution.

(With notes from the Baha’i World News Service story