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UN Committee Slams Iran For Postelection Crackdown

Iranian opposition demonstrators run away from riot police during a protest in central Tehran on November 4.

Iranian opposition demonstrators run away from riot police during a protest in central Tehran on November 4.

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- The United Nations General Assembly's human rights committee condemned Iran today for a violent crackdown on protesters after presidential elections this year that the Iranian opposition says were rigged.

Tehran's UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee sharply criticized the Canadian-drafted resolution, saying that assembly decisions of this kind have "created an atmosphere of confrontation and polarization."

The 192-nation assembly's Third Committee, which focuses on human rights, approved the nonbinding resolution 74-48, with 59 abstentions. The committee adopted similar resolutions condemning North Korea and Myanmar by much wider margins on November 19.

The Iran resolution "expresses its deep concern at serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations."

It voiced "particular concern at the response of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran following the presidential election of 12 June 2009 and the concurrent rise in human rights violations."

Among those violations were "harassment, intimidation, and persecution, including by arbitrary arrest, detention, or disappearance, of opposition members, journalists and other media representatives, bloggers, lawyers, clerics, human rights defenders, academics, [and] students."

The result, it said, has been "numerous deaths and injuries." It also condemned reports of "forced confessions and abuse of prisoners including...rape and torture."

Iran has begun executing people in connection with the unrest that broke out after Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's disputed reelection. Opposition leaders say the vote was rigged to ensure Ahmadinejad won.

Saudi Arabia, which has accused Iran of supporting Shi'ite rebels in neighboring Yemen, broke ranks with the vast majority of Muslim nations and voted in favor of the resolution.

Riyadh, the world's top oil producer and a U.S. ally that sees itself as the guardian of Sunni Islam, has often been at odds with Shi'ite Iran.

Iran Attacks Canada, Israel

Resolutions condemning Iran, North Korea, and Myanmar have become an annual ritual in recent years. Today's vote showed that the ranks of Iran's critics increased by four over last year when a similar resolution was adopted by a 70-51 vote.

Both of Tehran's veto-wielding defenders on the UN Security Council, Russia and China, voted against the measure. There is no veto in the General Assembly.

A special assembly session next month is expected to formally adopt all recently approved committee resolutions.

Khazaee sharply criticized Canada for "systematic violations of human rights including discriminatory policies...against Aborigines, migrants, and minorities."

Khazaee also had harsh words for Israel, one of the resolution's co-sponsors, accusing it of "the worst forms of human rights violations, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, mass murder, crimes against humanity, and terrorism."

Maryam Rajavi, head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an Iranian exile group, said the resolution exhibited a global consensus "against religious fascism ruling Iran."

The New York-based Baha'i International Community said it is "a powerful signal to the Iranian government that the world is gravely concerned about how Iran treats its citizens."

Exiled Baha'i leaders allege that hundreds of followers have been jailed and executed in Iran in the past three decades. Tehran denies persecuting people for their religion.