The founder of the group Cycling for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that his group was "demand[ing] that the leaders of the world be aware of the situation in Iran," because "the nuclear issue is going to draw enough attention at the [United Nations'] General Assembly, and we want human rights to be in the same position."
The group arrived in New York City on September 22 with a letter urging UN members to protest Iran's disputed presidential election during their General Assembly.
The arrival of the cyclists, a group of nine academics and activists, marked the completion of an 800-kilometer ride that started in Toronto on September 19.
CHRI founder Ali Karimzadeh Bangi told Radio Farda that "the aim in going to New York is not to interrupt Ahmadinejad's speech" but to take advantage of "a very good opportunity to let the world know about the poor condition of human rights in Iran." CHRI joined other groups
to demonstrate in front of UN headquarters on September 22 with activities carrying on into the next day. The Massachusetts-based group Voices For Iran created a human screen by projecting footage onto a group of white-clad activists.
Large trucks were also employed in the effort, driving around the UN building plastered with messages like "Murder, Torture and Rape: Hold Ahmadinejad Accountable."
Protesters may have been provoked by Ahmadinejad's aggressive rhetoric in the past week. Questioning whether or not the Holocaust was "a real event" during a speech on September 18, he also announced that the Iranian military would "cut off" the hands of anyone threatening the country during a speech marking the anniversary of the start of the 1980 Iran-Iraq War on September 22.
The Iranian president reportedly was refused rooms in a number of New York hotels, while Iranians in New York have opened their doors to protesters coming from all over the world to demonstrate against the Iranian government.
-- Hannah Kaviani and Kristin Deasy