During the debate this afternoon on Item 4: “Human rights situations that require the council’s attention,” Western states seized the opportunity to highlight human rights abuses around the world, especially where they are most violated, such as in North Korea, Sudan, Iran, Sri Lanka, the Congo, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia.
The Middle East:
The Czech Republic (EU), France, Netherlands, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Israel accused Iran of persecuting the Baha’i community by prosecuting adherents of the faith under false charges of espionage. They also spoke of Iran’s repression of freedom of expression, sentencing to death of minors, homosexuals and political dissidents, and use of archaic methods of the death sentence, such as by stoning.
Iran lashed back, accusing the Czech Republic of repressing the Roma, France of discriminating against migrants, the UK of allowing persistent police harassment, Canada of systematically excluding its indigenous populations, and the US of perpetrating countless domestic and foreign human rights violations.
Israel not only called Iran “the greatest human rights violator,” but went on to state that “the core of the deficiency of this council” is that Iran uses it as a forum for hate-speech and anti-Semitism.
Aside from Iran and the DPRK, Ireland was the only country to criticize Israel for its military operations in Gaza and violating the rights of Palestinians. The delegation called on Israel to stop building “illegal settlements.” Countries generally reserve their criticism of Israel for Item 7, which is devoted solely to scrutinizing Israel’s rights record — the only agenda item devoted to one, specific country situation.
All the above mentioned democracies condemned Sudan for expelling 13 humanitarian NGOs, urged the government to review its decision, and called on it to cooperate with the International Criminal Court. Japan said that it “urges Sudan and the anti-government forces to refrain from endangering civilians,” while the Netherlands more strongly asserted that it is “extremely concerned by the expelling of NGOs.”
In a right of reply, Sudan attempted to legitimize the expulsion of NGOs by claiming that their work included “intelligence activities in order to estimate the uranium and other ground resources of the Sudan.”
North Korea lashed out at Israel and the West, appearing to repay the Islamic and African countries for their extensive support during the debate on the presentation of the UN expert on North Korean rights violations. It criticised the “murdering of Palestinian women and children under US patronage,” spoke about the importance of the concept of defamation of religions, and attacked Western nations for not having paid reparations for the transatlantic slave trade. Later on, using its right of reply, North Korea claimed that “All human rights violations worldwide come from the US.”
The US was the only country to mention Russian rights violations.
Continuing their bilateral quarrel from yesterday over the Western Sahara and the refugee camps in the city of Tindouf, Algeria and Morocco accused each other of violating human rights, repeatedly using their rights of reply.
After the EU and US spoke about human rights violations in China, the country used its right of reply to argue that the conflict in Tibet was neither of a religious nor ethnic nor cultural nature, but solely an issue of separatism. The Chinese delegate went on to say that the real Tibetan struggle is not against the Chinese government, but against the Buddhist “theocratic despotism” as part of the “global fight against slavery.”