Human rights activists have slammed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his attendance at a summit of the 120-member Non Aligned Movement which opened on Sunday in Tehran, Iran.
“By going to Tehran’s propaganda summit, the U.N. Secretary-General is abdicating his moral voice at a crucial time, and sending absolutely the wrong signal,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based independent human rights organization.
“Mr. Ban's spokesman invoked so-called diplomatic responsibilities. But diplomacy cannot trump decency. The fact is that Mr. Ban is under no obligation to go to Tehran now – and certainly not when the mullahs are pumping weapons, funds and intelligence into the hands of Assad forces who are bombarding innocent women and children in Hama, Aleppo and Damascus, harming millions of lives,” he said.
“Iran practices international terrorism, subjugates women, persecutes minorities, rapes dissidents, rigs elections, denies the Holocaust, and disregards UN resolutions to halt its illegal nuclear weapons program. Mr. Ban’s visit wrongy hands legitimacy and propaganda points to the forces of repression in Tehran, and their chief ally in Damascus.”
Ahead of the conference, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad escalated his rhetorical warfare on Israel, going so far as to declare, “The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumor.”
According to UN Watch’s practice, as host of the latest NAM summit, its 16th in 50 years, Iran becomes the group’s chair and will represent it at the UN over the next three years.
“We will now see Iran take the floor at the Human Rights Council and other top UN forums, speaking on behalf of 120 member states. It’s revolting: a regime that tramples the human rights of women, religious minorities and gays will become a leading voice in debates on how to protect these and other victims,” said Neuer.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with Ban two weeks ago and urged him against attending the conference, saying that doing so would grant international legitimacy to Iran.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the US does not think Iran “is deserving of these high-level presences that are going there.”
“Iran is going to try to manipulate this NAM summit and the attendees to advance its own agenda, and to obscure the fact that it is failing to live up to multiple obligations that it has to the UN Security Council, the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international bodies,” she said. 7
Nuland said the US hoped that those who do attend the conference will take the opportunity of any meetings with Iran’s leaders “to press them to come back into compliance, to use the opportunity of the P5+1 talks [with world powers US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany] to come clean about their nuclear program, and take up all of the other concerns that the international community has about Iran’s behavior.”
Several Jewish organizations have also urged the UN chief to stay away from the Tehran summit.