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Iran Earmarks $20 Million To ‘Resist’ Western Rights Abuses

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Lawmakers in Iran, which is often accused by the West of human rights violations, have backed a plan to earmark $20 million to help shed light on and "resist" such abuses by the United States and Britain, media reported.

Parliament also voted to oblige the Foreign Ministry to prepare annual reports on the human rights situation in its two Western foes, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The reports will be issued every year on November 4, when the Islamic Republic marks the anniversary of the 1979 storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by radical students who took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

Under the proposal, whose outlines were approved by the legislature, $20 million from Iran's Oil Stabilization Fund will be allocated to help "progressive movements" report on rights abuses by the United States and Britain.

IRNA did not say which movements would receive the money, but the use of the word "resist" could be an implicit reference to militant groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, which Iran supports and often refers to as "resistance groups."

The ministries of intelligence, communication, culture, and foreign affairs and the Revolutionary Guards will decide how to spend the funds, it said.

The same organizations will also distribute money among those "resisting the unlawful actions of the U.S. and British governments," it said, without elaborating.

It was not immediately clear whether the proposal had been put forward by the government or by the MPs themselves.

Western governments and rights groups such as Amnesty International often accuse Iran of violating human rights.

Earlier this month, the UN General Assembly's human rights committee condemned Iran for a violent crackdown on protesters after presidential elections this year that the Iranian opposition says were rigged.

Iran rejects such criticism, saying it follows Shari’a, Islamic law, and accuses the West of hypocrisy and double standards. Iran often says its Western foes are violating the rights of Muslims, for example in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Islamic Republic is embroiled in a long-running row with Washington and its allies over Tehran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at making bombs. Iran says its nuclear work is a peaceful drive to generate electricity.