Ahmadinejad’s Presence at United Nations Condemned
Forum ramps up speeches and demonstrations against Ahmadinejad United Nations visit
By Ali Reza Jahan, Epoch Times
September 21, 2009
(L-R) David Kilgour, former Canada Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific; Rev. Dr. Davide Lowry, director of the Center for Peace and Reconciliation; and David Matas, director of the International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development at a press conference condemning Iranian President Ahmadinejad's presence at the United Nations General Assembly. (Aloysio Santos/The Epoch Times)
NEW YORK—A loose coalition of Iranian groups stood together on Monday, unified in their opposition to President Ahmadinejad and his visit to the United Nations General Assembly. The forum, held at New York’s Marriott East Side hotel, was the ramp up to days of speeches and demonstrations against the Iranian leader as he prepares to speak at the General Assembly, which opens its 64th session on Wednesday.
The point the coalition hopes to convey to U.N. member states is that it’s dangerous for the General Assembly to extend diplomatic graces to Ahmadinejad while his regime continues to kill, torture, and rape dissidents.
The forum was hosted by the Association of Iranian Americans in New York and supported by various other Iranian and human rights groups.
Among other legal and religious experts, two prominent Canadian human rights advocates joined the forum, former Canadian Secretary of State David Kilgour, and attorney David Matas, previously a member of the Canadian delegation to the U.N. General Assembly.
Kilgour and Matas are best known internationally for their work on exposing the Chinese communist regime’s systematic organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners.
David Matas voiced his objections to Ahmadinejad’s trip to New York and the legitimacy conferred to him by speaking at the General Assembly. “There are many governments who violate human rights, however, even amongst this somber list of human rights violators, Iran stands apart,” he said.
“[The regime] does not just violate human rights in a gross manner. It challenges through work and deed the international legal order.”
“The regime denies the Holocaust, underpinning a catalyst for the universal declaration of human rights and the United Nations Human Rights Council, the office of the high commissioner for human rights, the genocide convention, the refugee convention,” said Matas who serves as senior legal counsel to B’nai Brith Canada.
Matas added that the president of the General Assembly should deny Ahmadinejad the podium, that the Iranian leader should not be allowed to speak, or at least the international diplomatic community should stage a unified walk-out in protest.
On how the current American administration should react to the regime, Ali Safavi, spokesman for the National Coalition of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said, “The administration should speak in a very determined, decisive voice: We are not going to do any business with this regime, politics, or otherwise. And we are reaching out to its opposition.”
“The people of Iran have the capacity, the willingness, the courage, and the capability to bring about change in Iran,” added Safavi.
The NCRI has received criticism due to one of the coalition’s more prominent members, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), a socialist group that opposes the current Islamic regime.
MEK is still considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department; however, the label was recently lifted in the United Kingdom.