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Ahmadinejad’s UN Speech: Analysis and Comment by UN Watch
Geneva, September 19, 2006 — Tonight’s speech to the UN by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was crafted in a more moderate tone than other recent tirades, but that did not diminish its potency as a propaganda text aimed at rallying the Muslim world behind his violent apocalyptic vision, and at winning the support of the Third World in casting the U.S. as a global threat and oppressor.
Mr. Ahmadinejad repeatedly challenged the international role of the U.S., describing it as a nuclear-armed occupier of other lands that is hypocritical on democracy. Still, the speech was wrapped in more diplomatic language, marking a change from the rambling, Unabomber-style letter he sent to U.S. President George Bush last May. Similarly, the speech included oblique references to “some of the survivors of the Second World War,” but stopped short of previous statements that openly called the Holocaust “a myth.”
The Iranian president’s speech opened with strong religious language, and ended with expressions of messianic fervor. This followed on Mr. Ahmadinejad’s theme from last year, when he talked of being “surrounded by a light” while addressing the 2005 plenary. He continued in that vein tonight, saying thattoday’s world “above all longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples.” He asked God for return of “the perfect human being promised to all by You”, and that God “make us among [the savior’s] followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause.”
Despite using relatively softer language, said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based monitoring organization, the Iranian leader’s speech was riddled with numerous blatant contradictions:
- Mr. Ahmadinejad’s major theme was the injustice and non-democratic nature of the UN Security Council. But Iran itself is a theocracy controlled by an unelected Supreme Leader that, among other things, tightly controls which candidates are allowed to run in elections — as the General Assembly itself found (see quote from UN resolution below).
- His solution was to hand more power to countries from the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) — yet the vast majority of these regimes are entirely non-democratic themselves, lacking any claim to representative legitimacy.
- Mr. Ahmadinejad talked about “truth” and referred 33 times to the word “justice” — yet his regime was found by the IAEA to have been lying for years about its nuclear program, and has been accused of gross injustice through resort to phony trials, which have covered up the torture and killings of dissidents such as Canadian photo-journalist Zahra Kazemi.
- He portrayed himself as leader of the Third World, and claimed to speak in the name of “peoples across the Globe.” As such, he sought to distinguish between those who live in poverty and others (i.e., the U.S.) who “rely on weapons and threats.” He talked about countries that “waste their wealth and resources” to produce “destructive arsenals” of nuclear weapons. But that’s precisely what international experts say Iran is doing in illegally pursuing its massive nuclear weapons program. Moreover, Ahmadinejad’s regime has for years preferred to send hundreds of millions of dollars for advanced weaponry to arm Hezbollah for its rule over Lebanon and for attacks against Israel, all in violation of UN resolution 1559 — rather than meet the basic needs of Iran’s own impoverished citizens.
- Mr. Ahmadinejad said “occupiers are incapable of establishing security in Iraq”. Yet Iran remains the leading external force actively promoting violence and division to ensure the instability of that country.
- His speech protested the tragedy of the Palestinians — yet Iran has been the greatest sponsor of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorism in order to undermine every attempt for a peaceful, two-state resolution, from the Oslo agreements to the Road Map.
- Mr. Ahmadinejad referred 17 times to “peace,” and complained about the war in Lebanon. But Iran’s Hezbollah client militia was the one that, as Kofi Annan said, provocatively attacked Israel across the UN-certified blue line, backed by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, all in clear defiance of UN resolutions.
- He talked a great deal about notions of “freedom and human rights.” Yet the General Assembly — which, in his own words, “as the highest organ of the United Nations, must be respected” — earlier this year condemned Iran as one of the world’s greatest violators of human rights. According to GA Resolution 60/171, adopted in March, these include the following systematic violations by the Tehran regime:
- “continuing harassment, intimidation and persecution of human rights defenders, non-governmental organizations, political opponents, religious dissenters, political reformists, journalists, parliamentarians, students, clerics, academics and webloggers”;
- “restrictions on the freedoms of assembly, opinion and expression, the use of arbitrary arrest, targeted at both individuals and their family members, and the unjustified closure of newspapers and blocking of Internet sites”;
- “the absence of many conditions necessary for free and fair elections, including by the arbitrary disqualification of large numbers of prospective candidates, including all women, during the presidential elections of June 2005” — indeed, the very ballot that elected Ahmadinejad;
- “the persistent failure to comply fully with international standards in the administration of justice and, in particular, the absence of due process of law”;
- “the refusal to provide fair and public hearings, the denial of the right to counsel and access to counsel by those detained, the use of national security laws to deny human rights, the harassment, intimidation and persecution of defence lawyers and legal defenders”;
- “the continuing use of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment such as flogging and amputations”;
- “continuing violence and discrimination against women and girls in law and in practice”; and
- “continuing discrimination, and other human rights violations against ethnic and religious minorities,” speficially citing Arabs, Kurds, Baluchis, Christians, Jews, Sunni Muslims, and particularly the Bahai.
UN Watch calls on UN member states to unite and firmly support the current international effort to hold Iran accountable to its obligations under all relevant UN resolutions and international law.
|UN Watch is a Geneva-based human rights organization founded in 1993 to monitor UN compliance with the principles of its Charter. It is accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information.|