Iran, Racism and the Non-Aligned Movement

UN Watch testimony delivered by Hillel Neuer before
the U.N. Human Rights Council, July 3, 2012

Thank you, Madam President.

UN Watch was founded by Morris Abram, the legendary civil rights advocate who marched arm-in-arm with Rev. Martin Luther King to fight racism in America. His struggle against prejudice in all its forms continues to guide our work.

As I look around this room, I see many representatives from the Non-Aligned Movement whose peoples were victimized by racism under colonial rule.

The ghastly atrocities perpetrated against millions of Congolese by Belgian King Leopold II is but one of many examples from that sordid history. NAM members know the consequences of racism and discrimination.

That is why I turn to those nations, and ask:  Have you heard what was said last Tuesday, by a leading figure in your movement?

Now, in this chamber we just heard Iran declare itself opposed to incitement to racism.

Yet at an international conference in Tehran, part of the U.N. campaign against drug trafficking, Iranian Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi shocked diplomats, as well as many Iranians present, by saying that the Talmud, a central text of Judaism, was responsible for the spread of illegal drugs around the world.

He also made other accusations against Jews and Judaism, echoing those used by Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

Can anyone here think of another country whose leaders openly incite to racism at international conferences?

We welcome the denunciation of Mr. Rahimi’s remarks by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and today’s statement by Yury Fedotov, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, expressing dismay and concern during his meeting in Vienna with an Iranian diplomat.

But U.N. member states must speak out as well.  To those who know what racism means, I ask:  How can Iran be allowed to host the Non Aligned Movement Center for Human Rights and Cultural Diversity?

Is not the state advocacy of religious and racial hatred the very opposite of human rights and cultural diversity?

Will the victims of prejudice allow one of their own members to do the same?

I thank you, Madam President.

UN Watch