Friday, October 26, 2007

Iran hits back at Canada at UN rights forum

Tehran accuses Ottawa of racism, police brutality and treating its indigenous people like second class citizens Iran hit back at Canada on Friday for criticizing its rising number of executions and treatment of women, accusing Ottawa of racism, police brutality and treating its indigenous people like second class citizens.

Canada, in remarks echoed by the European Union (EU), told the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday that the human rights situation was deteriorating in the Islamic Republic.

Iran's envoy A. Eshragh Jahromi rejected Canada's statement, which had voiced specific concern at Iran's "treatment of women as second class citizens" and suppression of peaceful demonstrations in support of women's rights.

"Such unfortunate allegations clearly demonstrate the continuation of old habits of politicization and double standards which discredited the UN Commission on Human Rights," Jahromi said, referring to the previous UN rights forum which the Council replaced a year ago.

Instead, Canada's inability to deal with human rights violations at home should be brought to the attention of the 47-member forum, he said.

"Human rights violations include social exclusion policies, blatant racism and racial discrimination, police brutality, unlawful detention, torture and deaths in custody, violence against women and children and indigenous people, who are being treated as second class people by the Canadian government," Jahromi said.

Iran's envoy also took issue with remarks by Diane Ala'i, representative of the Baha'i International Community, who complained of "systematic and organized persecution" of its members in Iran, including arrests and property confiscations.

The faith, an offshoot of Islam which claims 5 million members worldwide, is considered heresy by Iran's religious leaders.

"All Iranians, including the Baha'i, enjoy their full constitutional rights. In my country, all are equal before the law," Jahromi said.

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