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U.N. asked to pressure Iran on recent human rights abuses

WASHINGTON (BP)–With Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad scheduled to speak to the United Nations General Assembly, a religious liberty watchdog group has sent a letter to the U.N.’s human rights office, asking the body to hold Iran and its leader accountable for recent human rights abuses.

The 14-page letter was sent Sept. 18 to the human rights office by the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), the international affiliate of the American Center for Law and Justice. The letter cites sources claiming that 72 people were killed by Iranian security forces during protests following Ahmadinejad’s disputed June re-election. An additional 4,000 people were detained, the letter says. Those abuses, though, aren’t isolated incidents.

The letter also cites examples of prison abuse and torture, and rape, along with a lack of freedoms of trial, assembly and the press.

Ahmadinejad is scheduled to address the United Nations Wednesday.

“We urge you,” the letter reads in its conclusion, “to support measures designed to pressure the Iranian regime to (1) enforce the rule of law within Iran’s borders to prosecute those responsible for the rape and other indignities, (2) ensure a impartial judiciary, (3) stop persecution on the basis of viewpoint, peaceful demonstration, opinion, expression, and association, (4) release all prisoners who are not charged, (5) allow human rights groups, NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and lawyers access to the Court, and consultations with government officials from the Prosecutor office, (6) allow foreign and domestic press into Iran to cover the political events and criminal trials, (7) allow U.N. observers into the prisons to investigate abuse allegations, and (8) discuss the Iranian situation with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his upcoming visit to the U.N.”

Iran is one of 13 countries worldwide that the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) this year recommended naming as a “country of particular concern” (CPCs), a designation reserved for foreign governments that have participated in or tolerated “particularly severe” violations of religious liberty. The recommendation is made to the U.S. State Department.

Open Doors USA, which monitors the persecution of Christians worldwide, reports that at least 50 Christians, most of them converts from Islam, were arrested, interrogated, tortured and some even killed in Iran in 2008.

“It is clear that the Iranian government and its president have no respect for the human rights of its citizens,” Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the European Centre for Law and Justice, said in a statement. “Iran continues to show a flagrant disregard for the rule of law and continues to violate the most basic human rights of its citizens. In addition to the violence and crackdown on its citizens, we’re also deeply concerned by the unlawful prosecution by the Iranian government of its citizens in connection with the recent election. Iran has a very troubling record of abusing its citizens and this most recent campaign to quash political discourse is very disturbing. It’s time that Iran is held accountable for its serious and repeated violations of human rights and international law.”
Compiled by Michael Foust, an assistant editor for Baptist Press.

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