Feared for the Truths We Might Tell

After Iran, Mauritania for the Arab Group and Pakistan for the Islamic group held forth on the need to respect the Durban declaration on racism, UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer took the floor to respond. UN Human Rights Council, 20 March 2012.

Thank you, Madam President.

In September, a week before it was to take place, we discovered that the conference on the Durban Declaration barred entry to UN Watch. Contrary to basic due process, we never received any notice, nor the reasons for our exclusion.

As noted by the Chairman of the U.S. Congress Foreign Affairs Committee, it is telling to see who was admitted to this conference on racism. The approved invitees included the Libyan-funded front group which, until last year, oversaw the Muammar Qaddafi Prize on Human Rights, an award given annually to racist bigots and holocaust deniers.

We commend President Obama for speaking out against this injustice. On 22 September, the White House said it was deeply disappointed that UN rules for credentialing NGOs were used to silence voices critical of the Durban process.

And so today we ask: Why was our voice silenced?

Was it because certain governments feared the truths we might tell?

Was it because of fear we would speak for the 600,000 slaves in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, which spoke just now about racism?

Was it the fear we would speak for Asia Bibi, the Christian mother of five who awaits execution for blasphemy in Pakistan, which just spoke now about religious tolerance?

Was it because of fear we would speak for the many thousands of prisoners of conscience who are victims of political discrimination, under DDPA Article 2, in China, Cuba, Egypt, Vietnam, and perhaps worst on the planet, DPRK?

Or was it because of fear we would speak for the Arabs, Azeris, Baluchis, Kurds, Christians, Jews, Sufis and Sunni Muslims who are victims of the state policy of ethnic and religious discrimination in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which spoke just now about xenophobia?

Madam President,

We may never receive the answer as to why UN Watch was excluded. But we do know the results. On that day, in that Durban conference, the voices of millions of victims of racism, discrimination, and intolerance, were silenced.

Thank you, Madam President.


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