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UN General Assembly Committee Condemns Rights Abuses in Iran

The U.N. General Assembly committee that deals with human rights issues has adopted a resolution condemning widespread human rights abuses in Iran.

On Thursday, Iran had what is becoming its annual reprimand for human rights violations in the General Assembly committee responsible for social, humanitarian and human rights subjects.

Iranian human rights chief Mohammad Javad Larijani tried but failed to have the vote on the resolution canceled on a technicality, demanding a vote of "no action" on the grounds the committee was not within its jurisdiction to consider the matter. That attempt was roundly defeated. The committee then went on to adopt the resolution with a vote of 80 in favor, 44 against and 57 abstentions.

Modest support, but the strongest margin since the committee started taking up the matter seven years ago.

The resolution was drafted by Canada and co-sponsored by 42 other countries. Canadian U.N. Ambassador John McNee, said Tehran has made no efforts to improve its human rights record despite repeated international calls for it to comply with international obligations.

"The members of this committee cannot ignore Iran's continued human rights violations: stonings, torture, flogging, amputations, executions of juveniles, executions by strangulation, continuing discrimination against women and minorities, and a persistent failure to uphold due process. Mr. Chair, these violations continue and continue to worsen," he said.

Iranian human rights chief Larijani gave an impassioned and lengthy discourse in his attempt to dismiss what he called "malicious" charges. "Let me make it quite clear that the United States of America is the mastermind and the main provocateur, and as far as the substance is concerned this text does not have anything to do with human rights and its promotion. It is intended though, maliciously, to serve as part of U.S. hostile policy and hegemony against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Please I beg you, please be aware of that," he said.

Larijani also made accusations against Canada's human rights record, and in a strange and unrelated twist, accused British intelligence agency MI6 of murdering Neda Agha-Soltan, the young Iranian woman who was shot during a post-election protest last year. Her name became a rallying cry for reformists after graphic video posted on the Internet showed her dying.

In its resolution, the committee calls on Tehran to eliminate such practices as flogging and amputations, abolish public executions and the use of stoning and hanging, as well as ending discrimination against women and minorities, and cease harassing political opponents and human rights defenders.

The committee also adopted separate resolutions condemning widespread human rights violations in North Korea and Burma.

Many of the countries that voted against or abstained during the three votes said that they felt the Human Rights Council in Geneva is the appropriate venue for such issues. They also objected to what they called the 'targeting' of specific countries for criticism on their human rights record.

The committee vote must now be approved at a plenary session of the General Assembly, where its adoption is virtually assured.