The Corner

Iran (the Islamic Republic of) Attempts to Muzzle Human-Rights NGOs

It’s bad enough that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the platform of the Durban II conference against racism to spew hateful and essentially racist remarks. But today, Iran’s representative went to great pains to disrupt the speeches of NGOs who criticized Ahmadinejad’s diatribe.

Both Hillel Neuer of Geneva-based U.N. Watch and Anne Bayefsky of the Hudson Institute were repeatedly interrupted by Iran’s representative during their three-minute statements to the conference. Neuer and Bayefsky had the temerity to ask out loud just what the Durban conference had done for victims of racism and hatred in Iran, Cuba, Burma, Sudan, or anywhere else. Both also noted how Ahmadinejad’s speech did not enhance the conference proceedings, to say the least.

In an attempt to stop these statements, Iran interjected repeatedly on a “point of order” and asked the chair to instruct U.N. Watch to stick to the “agenda item” under discussion, which was the “objectives of the conference.” How is criticizing a racist speech given by a head of state as unhelpful to a conference ostensibly about racism “out of order”?

The representative of South Africa also chimed in with its objection to Bayefsky referring to the “Durban Review Conference” as “Durban II” because it was insulting to South Africa. Apparently, not even South Africa wants to be associated with the first U.N. racism conference held in Durban, South Africa in 2001.

Perhaps the Iranian disruptions of non-profit human-rights NGO representatives could be considered revenge for the disruptions that occurred during Ahmadinejad’s speech, which was interrupted on two occasions by rainbow-clown-wig wearing protesters and by the mass exodus of every European nation in attendance in protest to his remarks. However, Iran has revealed its thin skin by using its authority in such a ham-handed fashion.


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