NGO Urges UN Chief to Retract Blessing for Cynical Iranian Conference on Terrorism

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Mahdi Akhoundzadeh: “We are happy that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is sending his representatives to read out his message to Tehran conference.”

GENEVA — A watchdog organization is calling on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to retract his apparent endorsement of an Iranian government conference on terrorism that seeks to deny Iranian complicity, while instead blaming the US, Britain and Israel. The following letter was sent today to the UN chief by Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch.

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His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon
The Secretary-General
The United Nations
New York, NY 10017

25 June 2011

Your Excellency,

Earlier this week, UN Watch warmly welcomed your deserved reelection as UN Secretary-General and applauded your principled leadership. It is in that spirit that we call upon you to distance yourself and the United Nations from a cynical conference now underway in Iran which claims to have your blessing and that of the United Nations.

Organized by the Iranian government, the conference is entitled “International Conference on Global Fight Against Terrorism.” It began today and ends tomorrow. The opening message by Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei attacked “the United States, Britain and some Western governments, with a black record in terrorist behaviors,” “satanic world powers,” and “terrorist organizations such as the Zionism International Agency.” (http://www.icterrorism.com/en/?news=163)

The Iranian Supreme Leader further says on the conference website that “the creation and growth of the wild and blind terrorism is basically the result of the wicked policy of America and England,” and that “it is a duty for all Muslims to confront and fight this inauspicious offspring which is the clear example of corruption on earth and fighting with God.” (http://www.icterrorism.com/en/?page=200)

Inflammatory cartoons abound on the conference website. Several depict the United States as a purveyor of terrorism (http://www.icterrorism.com/en/?album=77). One image portrays innocent Middle Easterners as the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Another shows the Statue of Liberty, with Lady Liberty holding a stick of dynamite in her hand. Still another shows an Israeli soldier as a devil with horns.

If this were not enough, the conference openly defied the United Nations by prominently hosting Sudanese President Al-Bashir, against whom there is an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court on the charge of genocide against the people of Darfur.

As you know, this conference is the height of cynicism. Iran is a leading sponsor of terrorism, arming and training terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Iran has been accused of sponsoring terrorist attacks in Iraq, and of now aiding the Syrian regime in the bloody repression of its own population. Iran has been condemned repeatedly by the UN General Assembly for severely violating the human rights of its own citizens, and is under UN sanctions for violating international law in its covert pursuit of a nuclear bomb. Last September, you rightly condemned Iranian President Ahmadinejad when he used the UN podium to accuse the US of perpetrating the 9/11 terror attacks.

In light of the above, we were alarmed to see that this Iranian propaganda vehicle not only features the UN logo on the home page of its website, implying UN sponsorship, but also appears to have received a special message from you that was read out in person by a UN representative in Tehran. A summary appears on the conference website under your photo (http://www.icterrorism.com/en/?news=216). According to the Mehr News agency, “United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sent a message to the conference, which was read out by UN representative Muhammad Rafiuddin Shah.” The report goes on to say that “Ban thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for organizing the conference.”

Mr. Secretary-General, your good name and that of the United Nations should not be exploited in this way. It harms the credibility of the world body, contradicts the principles of the UN Charter, and aids and abets the sponsors of terrorism in their global propaganda. We urge you to publicly distance yourself and the UN from this shameful conference.

Yours truly,

Hillel Neuer
Executive Director

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