After some of the world’s most bigoted, benighted and barbaric regimes held forth on the need to respect the U.N.’s Durban Declaration on racism, UN Watch took the floor to respond. UN Human Rights Council, debate of March 20, 2012. Click here for video.
PAKISTAN FOR THE ISLAMIC GROUP – Zamir Akram: Muslim citizens are victims of economic and social discrimination especially in Western societies. The international community should recognize that Islamophobia in particular and discrimination on the basis of religion and belief were contemporary forms of racism.
MAURITANIA FOR THE ARAB GROUP – Fatimetou Mint Isselmou: We call on all States to respect their commitments under the Durban Declaration. The Arab Group promotes and supports sports activities which could fight against intolerance and promote the establishment of societies based on diversity and respect.
IRAN – Fahrad Mamdouhi: Certain Western States boycotted the 10th anniversary commemoration of the Durban Declaration, undermining international efforts to address racism and racial discrimination. Discrimination against Muslims and Islamophobia is on the steady rise. Instances of desecration of Muslim sanctities and the disgusting incident of Quran burning that had occurred at [the U.S.] Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan were extremely alarming.
UN WATCH TAKES THE FLOOR – Hillel Neuer:
Thank you, Madam President.
A week before it was to take place, we discovered in September 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 spoke just 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—as defined under Article 2 of the Durban Declaration itself—in China, Cuba, Egypt, Vietnam, and, perhaps worst on the planet, North Korea?
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?
We may never receive the answer as to why UN Watch was excluded. But we do know the consequences. On that day, in that Durban conference, the voices of millions of victims of racism, discrimination, and intolerance, were silenced.
Thank you, Madam President.