Western countries have strongly condemned what has been described as Iran’s “bloody repression” against its opponents and have called on Tehran to open its borders to UN human rights observers.
The attack came as the UN Human Rights Council met in Geneva to call Iran to account for the first time since it set up a regular review of all countries’ records.
Outside the building, opponents of the Iranian government staged a protest, denouncing what they called the “executions, torture and rapes” carried out in Iranian prisons.
Inside the chamber the head of the Iranian delegation spoke first to defend his government. Mohamed Javad Larijani outlined the Islamic Republic’s “achievements”.
“The Iranian society is a successful model of brotherly and amicable coexistence. One of the principle objectives of the government is to enhance and consolidate this relationship,” he said.
The controversial re-election of President Ahmadinejad in June last year brought street protests which were quickly quelled. Western diplomats have been working on a strategy to tackle Tehran. The US, Canada and France are leading the charge.
“Since last June millions of Iranian people have sought to raise legitimate concerns about the 2009 electoral process and to exercise their universal rights,” said Michael Posner, US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour. “The United States strongly condemns the recent violence and the unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens,” he added.
But while western countries stepped up their attacks, several Islamic nations made no reference to the demonstrations – and there was unequivocal backing for Tehran from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.