News / Middle East

Nations Criticize Iran's Human Rights Record

More than 50 countries attending a United Nations meeting have backed a statement criticizing Iran's human rights record, in spite of Tehran's attempt to block the statement from being read.

The statement was taken up at a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Tuesday.  It says member states are concerned about a lack of progress in Iran for protecting human rights, particularly since Tehran's June 2009 election.   It says problems include "violent suppression of dissent" and "detention and executions without due process of law."

However, Iran's ambassador used a procedural maneuver which temporarily stopped the Norwegian ambassador from reading the statement.  Several other nations, including Pakistan, joined Iran in raising objections to the measure.

After the delay, at least 55 nations - many of them Western - endorsed the statement and it was read at the meeting.  It says member states could not let the human rights council meeting end without marking the one-year anniversary of events surrounding Iran's election.

Iranian authorities arrested thousands of people in the aftermath of the election after opposition activists took to the streets to protest the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Opponents said the vote count was fraudulent.

More than 80 demonstrators were charged with criminal offenses and sentenced to prison terms of up to 15 years.   Several activists faced death sentences.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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