PRESS RELEASE

Geneva, Oct. 20, 2006 — UN Watch today called on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to denounce Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his government’s move to restrict internet speeds and curb access to information in Iran.  The Geneva-based human rights monitoring organization called Iran’s behavior repressive and “blatantly hypocritical” in light of Iran’s call this week at the General Assembly for increased access to information technology for the world’s poor countries.

 

Speaking on Tuesday at the General Assembly’s Special Political and Decolonization Committee, Iran’s General Assembly representative called for a “new order” of media responsibility. Citing European states in particular, Hossein Maleki demanded that the media avoid “violations of sanctities”—a reference to the Islamic countries’ ongoing effort at the UN to legislate international restrictions on free speech, a campaign that began with the controversy last year over the publication of Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.

Maleki’s UN speech called on the international community to adopt measures to strike “a balance between capabilities of the media networks of the developed and developing nations and guarantee justice and free flow of information and embark on international campaign against one-sided and purposeful news broadcasts.”  He said that “currently there is an absence of balance on availability to modern information technology of the developing and developed nations.” See full text here.

“Iran’s doublespeak on access to information is particularly audacious, even by UN standards,” UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer said today.  “When Ahmadinejad’s government talks at the UN about free flow of information—while at home it bans satellite dishes, shuts down pro-reform newspapers, and now restricts internet speed—the regime is once again showing contempt for the world body and the principles of freedom that underlie its Charter.”

Neuer also criticized Ahmadinejad’s bellicose speech this morning about Israel that warned European countries “you may get hurt.”  Neuer said the latest broadside is one more example of the clear danger the Iranian regime—now known to be developing nuclear weapons—poses to the world.  “The same man who supplies weapons to Hezbollah is once again saying Israel has no reason to exist,” Neuer said.  “Silence by the UN and the international community will be interpreted as acquiescence to the storm of genocidal hatred and nuclear proliferation now gathering in Iran.”

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