Iran, West set for showdown at UN

GENEVA: Iran and western countries were set for a showdown over Tehran’s crackdown on dissent tomorrow, when the UN human rights council scrutinises the country’s human rights record.

The regular review and open debate by the 47 nations in the council comes days after Revolutionary Guards and police reportedly clamped down again on protests during the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution last Thursday.

The United States, European countries and human rights groups have accused the Iranian government of intensifying mass arrests and detentions, torturing detainees, show trials and politically-motivated executions against opponents and minorities, as well as muzzling communications and the media. United Nations human rights experts have also expressed growing concern over the past year, having failed to gain access to the country since 2005 despite repeated requests.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iran John Limbert noted a deterioration since the contested June 2009 election that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power, with growing dissent from former Islamic regime allies.

“These are not royalists, not long-standing opposition figures; these were consummate insiders, pillars of the establishment,” he told journalists in Geneva.

In a report to the council, Iran retorted that criticism of its rights record was politically-motivated and created “negative sensitivity” inside the country. “The Iranian society is a successful model of brotherly and peaceful coexistence,” it claimed. “Iran’s human rights situation has consistently been used as a political tool to apply pressure and to advance certain ulterior political motives of specific Western countries.”