Canada Again Leads UN Condemnation of Iran
December 20, 2012 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:
“Today, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Canada-led resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran.
“We are proud of the substantial support that this resolution garnered at the United Nations. The community of nations spoke with clarity of view and purpose to acknowledge what the regime in Tehran consistently denies: its widespread, systematic and egregious human rights violations. This is a clear signal that these violations will not be tolerated.
“The resolution is also important because it reminds courageous individuals and their families, as well as victims of human rights violations, that they have not been forgotten by the international community.
“Canada will not stay silent on these issues. We will continue to express serious concern about the ongoing and pervasive human rights violations in Iran, including the persecution of religious minorities.
“Canada is a vigorous defender of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law around the world, and we will continue to urge the regime in Tehran to uphold its obligations and respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people in Iran.”
Today, the Honourable Vic Toews, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, announced that the Government of Canada has made changes to the Criminal Code list of terrorist entities to now include the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force. For more information, please visit Minister of Public Safety announces changes to Criminal Code list of terrorist entities.
A backgrounder follows.
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Backgrounder - United Nations Resolution on Situation of Human Rights in Iran
Canada has consistently taken a prominent position on the global stage as a diligent, vocal promoter of human rights and as a strong defender of those whose human rights are under threat.
This has been particularly noticeable at the United Nations General Assembly, where Canada has been a lead sponsor, in solidarity with many like-minded countries, of important resolutions against the ongoing abuse of human rights in Iran.
This year, for the 10th consecutive year, Canada led in sponsoring a resolution in the General Assembly condemning human rights abuses in Iran. The resolution again condemned the use of cruel and inhuman punishments in Iran and deplored a dramatic increase in executions, as well as discrimination and human rights violations against women and ethnic and religious minorities.
This year’s resolution was co-sponsored by 44 countries. The Third Committee of the General Assembly approved the resolution on November 27, 2012, with 83 countries voting to support it and 32 countries voting against. It was subsequently adopted by the General Assembly plenary session on December 20, with 86 countries voting in support and 32 countries voting against.
Through these resolutions, Canada has consistently focused the world’s attention on the egregious and long-standing violations of human rights by Iranian authorities. These human rights violations run an appalling gamut and target women, girls, and ethnic and religious minorities.

U.N. condemns rights abuses in Iran, North Korea and Syria
(Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly condemned North Korea, Iran and Syria on Thursday for widespread human rights abuses and all three countries rejected the separate resolutions adopted by the 193-member world body, slamming them as politicized.
The resolution on Syria, which was co-sponsored by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Britain, France and other Arab and Western states, received 135 votes in favor, 12 against and 36 abstentions.
The resolution on Iran, which was drafted by Canada and co-sponsored by other Western countries, passed in an 86-32 vote with 65 abstentions. The North Korea resolution was adopted by consensus.
Resolutions on Iran, North Korea and Myanmar - and, since last year, Syria - have become an annual ritual. A General Assembly vote on a draft resolution on Myanmar, which was passed by consensus by the U.N.'s Third Committee on human rights last month, has been delayed while budget implications are assessed.
The resolutions deepen international pressure and further isolate Iran, North Korea and Syria but have no legal consequences. All three countries lobby hard against the adoption of the resolutions.
"We wonder if any member of this universal body can claim perfection in human rights situation within its territory and should be beyond the international scrutiny," Iranian U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee told the General Assembly.
"It is a regret that the present system of human rights monitoring opens doors for a selective, arbitrary, partial and unproductive treatment," he said.
The resolution on Iran voiced "deep concern at serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran relating to, inter alia, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations."

The Syria resolution "strongly condemns the continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities and the Government-controlled 'shabiha' militia."
A representative of Syria's U.N. mission described the resolution as politicized and said it "hinders peaceful solutions the crisis in Syria." About 40,000 people have been killed during a 20-month civil war in Syria.
"The sponsors of this draft resolution, namely Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, are not renowned for their desire to protect and promote human rights in Syria," the Syrian diplomat said.
"Quite to the contrary they are a major part of the problem, they are the main instigator for ongoing violence and an escalation of violence in my country," she said.
Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Morocco have repeatedly denied the allegations.
The North Korea resolution voiced "very serious concern at the persistence of continuing reports of systematic, widespread and grave violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights."
It said such violations included torture, the existence of prison camps and limitations on the freedom of movement of North Korean citizens, including the punishment of those who attempt to travel abroad.
A representative of North Korea's U.N. mission rejected the resolution "as a document of political plot and fabrication (of the human rights situation)."
"This resolution has nothing to do with ... human rights, but rather it creates confrontation and blocks potential dialogue and cooperation," he said.
North Korea is under U.N. Security Council sanctions for nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

UK condemns regime harassment of Iranian blogger’s family
Foreign Office calls for end to impunity of Security Forces in Iran following death in custody of Sattar Beheshti.
Sattar Beheshti, a young Iranian citizen, died in detention in early November. Mr Beheshti’s only crime appears to have been using the internet to advocate the defence of human rights. Commenting on reports that Iranian security forces disrupted a family ceremony mourning his death, a Foreign Office Spokesperson said:
We are dismayed by the Iranian security forces’ harassment of the family of blogger Sattar Beheshti during the mourning ceremony on 13th December to mark his death. Mr Beheshti died in suspicious circumstances while in custody. This is not the first time the family of a victim of the regime has received such treatment, which is completely unacceptable. Iran must respect the family’s right to mourn their loss in peace, as well as make serious attempts to bring those responsible for Mr Beheshti’s death to justice. The impunity enjoyed by agents of the state must end. We reiterate our condolences to Mr Beheshti’s family.

Iran must uphold the rights and freedoms of its citizens
The Foreign Secretary William Hague has reaffirmed UK support for imprisoned Human Rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh.
To mark the United Nations vote on the human right situation in Iran, the Foreign Secretary has released a video. He said:
The basic freedoms of ordinary Iranians are being denied. Many citizens live in constant fear of arbitrary arrest, false imprisonment and, in some cases, death. There is undeniable evidence of abuse: the recent death in custody of blogger Sattar Beheshti is one tragic example.
The Foreign Secretary also spoke about Nasrin Sotoudeh, who recently ended a 49-day hunger strike in protest against the harassment of her family.
Addressing Ms Sotoudeh directly, the Foreign Secretary said:
You have sacrificed your own freedom, family life and health in order to help others. I want you to know that we are following your case closely. And that I echo the many calls upon Iran for your immediate release. Be assured that we will continue to hold the Iranian government to account for your terrible treatment. We will not forget you.
The regime hopes to silence those who call for basic human rights in Iran. I want to make clear that the promotion and protection of human rights is at the heart of UK foreign policy. And we are committed to supporting and protecting those who defend human rights and work tirelessly to advance personal freedoms, often at great personal risk.

The seven countries where the state can execute you for being atheist

Data source: International Humanist and Ethical Union (Max Fisher/Washington Post)
The annual “freedom of thought” report from the International Humanist and Ethical Union, an advocacy umbrella group that represents and seeks to protect non-religious people, details laws and practices around the world that punish or restrict atheism. The group presented the report to the United Nations today.
The report tracks, among other things, which countries have laws explicitly targeting atheists. There are not many, but the states that forbid non-religiousness – typically as part of “anti-blasphemy” legislation – include seven nations where atheism is punishable by death. All seven establish Islam as the state religion. Though that list includes some dictatorships, the country that appears to most frequently condemn atheists to death for their beliefs is actually a democracy, if a frail one: Pakistan. Others include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, the West African state of Mauritania, and the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean. These countries are colored red on the above map.
Earlier this year, a 23-year-old Saudi man named Hamza Kashgari tweeted in commemoration of the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday that, while he found the Islamic holy man inspirational, he did not believe in his divinity. When Kashgari was accused of blasphemy, he attempted to flee the country for his life, it turns out rightly. He was arrested while changing flights in Malaysia, deported back to Saudi Arabia, and is now awaiting charges that could include his execution for blasphemy and atheism.
Though atheists are rarely handed death sentences in these countries, the threat of punishment can stifle religious freedom. As this interview with an atheist in Saudi Arabia showed, the laws have a chilling effect, enforcing cultural taboos against atheism and pushing non-religious citizens to keep their beliefs secret out of fear of retaliation.

Some countries, according to the report, also codify possible prison sentences for atheists (these countries are indicated in orange on the map). These laws, however, can be difficult to distinguish from restrictions against “religious incitement,” which are common in much of the world, including in atheist-friendly Western Europe. But the report indicates that, in countries such as Egypt or Indonesia, the laws appear to be used to specifically target citizens who, for example, publicly profess their own atheism.
Other countries, colored yellow on the map, restrict rights for atheists, for example by limiting marriage rights or public service.
The United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt accepted the report, according to Reuters, noting that there is little global awareness that atheism is protected by international human rights law.

A Global Report on Discrimination Against Humanists, and the Nonreligious International Humanist and Ethical Union Atheists

Discriminatory Laws:

There is no freedom of religion or belief in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iranian law bars any criticism of Islam or deviation from the ruling Islamic standards. Government leaders use these laws to persecute religious minorities and dissidents.

Article 110 of the Constitution lists all the powers granted to the Spiritual Leader (a Muslim religious and political leader), appointed by his peers for an unlimited duration. Among others, the Spiritual Leader exercises his control over the judiciary, the army, the police, the radio, the television, but also over the President and the Parliament, institutions elected by the people. Article 91 of the Constitution establishes a body known as the “Guardian Council” whose function is to examine the compatibility of all legislation enacted by the Islamic Consultative Assembly with “the criteria of Islam and the Constitution”3 and who can therefore veto any and all legislation. Half of the members of the Guardian Council are appointed by the Spiritual Leader and the other half are elected by the Islamic Consultative Assembly from among the Muslim jurists nominated by the Head of the Judicial Power (who is, himself, appointed by the Spiritual Leader).

The Guardian council exercises a double control of any draft legislation, with two different procedures:

• conformity with the Constitution (all 12 elected members vote, a simple majority recognizes the constitutionality)

• conformity with Islam (only the six religious leaders elected personally by the Spiritual leader vote, and a simple majority is required to declare the compatibility of a draft legislation with Islam).

Consequently, four religious leaders may block all draft legislation enacted by the Parliament. The Guardian Council and the Supreme Leader therefore and in practice centralize all powers in Iran.

Articles 12 and 13 of the Constitution divides citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran into four categories: Muslims, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians. Nonbelievers are effectively left out and aren’t afforded any rights or protections. They must declare their faith in one of the four officially recognized religions in order to be able to claim a number of legal rights, such as the possibility to apply for the general examination to enter any university in Iran. Other belief groups outside of the four recognized religions, such as Bahá'ís, also suffer from this discrimination and are actively prevented from attending university.

Only Muslims are able to take part in the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and to conduct public affairs at a high level. According to the Constitution, non-Muslims cannot hold the following key decision-making positions:

• President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who must be a Shi’a Muslim (Article 1156)

• Commanders in the Islamic Army (Article 1447)

• Judges, at any level (Article 163 and law of 1983 on the selection of judges 8)

Moreover, non-Muslims are not eligible to become members of the Parliament (the Islamic Consultative Assembly) through the general elections. Finally, non-Muslims cannot become members of the very influential Guardian Council.

A study of the Penal Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran reveals that, for a number of offences, the punishment differs in function of the religion of the victim and/or the religion of the offender. The fate of Muslim victims and offenders is systematically more favorable than that of non-Muslims, showing that the life and physical integrity of Muslims is given a much higher value than that of non-Muslims.

This institutionalized discrimination is particularly blatant for the following crimes:

1. Adultery: The sanctions for adultery vary widely according to the religion of both members of the couple. A Muslim man who commits adultery with a Muslim woman is punished by 100 lashes (Article 8811). However, a non-Muslim man who commits adultery with a Muslim woman is subject to the death penalty (Article 82-c12). If a Muslim man commits adultery with a non- Muslim woman, the Penal Code does not specify any penalty.

2. Homosexuality: Likewise, homosexuality “without consummation” between two Muslim men is punished by 100 lashes (Article 12113) but if the “active party” is non-Muslim and the other Muslim, the non-Muslim is subject to the death penalty.

3. Crimes against the Deceased: Article 49418 stipulates penalties for crimes against a deceased Muslim but the Penal Code does not edict any penalties for the violation of the corpse of a non- Muslim.

Cases of discrimination:

On Jan. 17, 2012, the country’s Supreme Court confirmed the previously handed down death sentence for 35-year-old web designer and Canadian resident Saeed Malekpour. Malekpour had returned to Iran in 2008 to visit his dying father and was arrested for “insulting and desecrating Islam” for creating a computer program used by others to download pornography.


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