Archive for the 'Durban 2009' Category

U.N. rights chief admits being wrong on Durban 2, “naive” about Ahmadinejad

In her AP interview today, U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay admits that those of us who warned her on Durban 2 “were right,” and that she was “naive” about Ahmadinejad:

Referring to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech before a 2009 global anti-racism conference in Geneva, Pillay acknowledged: “I was a bit naive.”

“I wondered why people were so afraid that he would use it as a political platform, but I see that they were right,” she said. “I think that it was pretty evident to everyone that it is an inappropriate speech to make at that venue.”

Ahmadinejad used his speech to deliver an angry diatribe against Israel, calling it the most “cruel and repressive racist regime” and prompting a walkout by European delegates. U.S. and Israeli diplomats had boycotted the conference from the start.

UN Watch welcomes Pillay’s statement. At the same time, it would have been better had the High Commissioner made clear that Ahmadinejad’s speech was simply hateful and wrong, and not merely “inappropriate” at that particular venue.

GA adopts outcome document of Durban Review Conference

On November 23, Sudan, on behalf of the Group of 77, introduced in the General Assembly’s Third Committee a resolution on the adoption of the Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference.  The Conference was held in Geneva from April 20 – 24, 2009, and is best remembered by the dozens of democracies that walked out during Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial opening address. 

The delegation of Israel called for the vote, explaining that her government refused to afford credibility to a process that was “obsessed” with the Middle East.  The text was initially adopted with 161 countries in favor, 6 against, and 12 abstaining. 

After the vote, however, the delegation of the Russian Federation raised a point of order to note that their “yes” had been recorded as an abstention; they then requested a new vote.  The United States responded that it was “highly unusual” for a new vote to be recorded, asking under what rule of procedure the Committee would be acting.  The Chair replied that although it was, indeed, unusual, the rules do not prohibit the retaking of votes.  Furthermore, in previous demands for a new vote, the requesting delegation had pressed the wrong button.  As the Russian delegation had insisted that he had pressed the correct button, the Chair deemed it acceptable to grant a re-vote.  However, the United States argued that because the delegation had not requested a reconsideration of the resolution, a second vote would be invalid. 

The Chair decided to hold another vote, and the final count was 163 in favor, 5 against, and 9 abstaining.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Russian Federation, changed their votes from abstentions to “yes.”  The Marshall Islands, which initially voted “no” was absent during the second vote, as was Macedonia, which had voted “yes” originally.

Canada was one of five nations to refuse to vote for the Durban Outcome Document (the other four were Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, and the United States.)  The Canadian representative explained that the language in the text reaffirmed the outcome document of the first Durban Conference in 2001, and that his government would not lend its approval to such a politicized process.  Moreover, the delegation argued that references in the document to the Middle East bore no relevancy to the fight against intolerance.

The other five countries that walked out of the Conference, namely Germany, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Poland and Italy, all abstained.  They were joined by Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Tonga.

In a general statement on the resolution, the delegation of Israel remarked that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.”  Israel argued that the 2001 Durban Conference “had descended in a brazen display of anti-Semitic racism,” and the promotion of racist agendas.  The representative of Israel further explained that they had initially decided to reserve judgment on the General Assembly’s decision to convene the Durban Review Conference; that they had realized the Conference’s potential to rectify the wrongs of 2001, but that these hopes had been misplaced.  Though Israel acknowledged the importance of various elements of the Review, the Conference had, nevertheless, reaffirmed the 2001 Durban Declaration.  The delegation explained that Israel was “fully committed to address, in a professional manner, the scourge of racism, xenophobia and intolerance,” but that it could not support a document that endorsed the 2001 Durban Declaration.

U.N. Investigates Canada and U.S. But Ignores Worst Abusers

Ms. Gay McDougall, the U.N.’s chief monitor of discrimination against minority groups, and a leading defender of the 2001 Durban conference, just wrapped up a 10-day investigation of Canada by accusing it of failures and “significant and persistent problems.”

Interestingly, McDougall has never investigated any of the countries listed by Freedom House as the world’s worst human rights abusers: not China, Cuba, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Burma, Chinese-ruled Tibet, South Ossetia in Georgia, Chechnya in Russia, or Zimbabwe. Continue reading ‘U.N. Investigates Canada and U.S. But Ignores Worst Abusers’

When law professors believe Naomi Klein

Last month’s Harper’s magazine published a revisionist history by Naomi Klein of the 2001 Durban conference and its 2009 would-be sequel, Durban II. My contemporary and fellow Jewish Montrealer told a great story — except that it was entirely fictional, a figment of her rabidly anti-Western and anti-Israel imagination. Continue reading ‘When law professors believe Naomi Klein’

The strange, enduring rage of Naomi Klein

National Post (Canada), ISSUES & IDEAS; Pg. A19
September 15, 2009 Tuesday

The strange, enduring rage of Naomi Klein
When it comes to Israel, she has always acted out of intense emotion, hysteria and anger

By Hillel Neuer

Supporters of liberal democratic values may have a hard time understanding why anti-globalization activist Naomi Klein has recruited Jane Fonda and other stars to boycott the Toronto International Film Festival for the crime of showing films from Tel Aviv, a symbol of tolerance in a region of tyranny.

Klein has never called for a boycott of films or any other products from the dozens of Arab and Islamic countries that systematically subjugate their women, torture dissidents and persecute religious and ethnic minorities.

She was not moved to protest when the city of Toronto twinned with Chongqing, nor when it established a “friendship relationship” with Ho Chi Minh City, despite the widespread human rights abuses in both China and Vietnam.

Nor has she ever called for the boycotting of films from the many Western democracies, including Canada, whose soldiers are fighting Islamist terrorists in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Klein’s singling out of Israel — particularly its most liberal city and cultural sector — has no rational basis.

This should come as no surprise. For while Klein’s statements and writings on Israel pose as sober analysis, the truth is that she has always acted on this subject out of intense emotion, hysteria and anger, rather than rational thought, facts or logic.

“This is, I think, the most emotional event I have ever done,” she recently told an audience of 500 Palestinians in Ramallah. “I have never had this feeling before, this feeling of overwhelming emotion.” This was how she opened her speech that accused Israel of committing “apartheid,” and Jews, except the tolerant few like her, of using the Holocaust as “a kind of get-one-genocide-free card.” The crowd, according to reporter Patrick Martin, responded with “one of the longest and loudest rounds of applause I have ever heard.”

At first glance, Klein’s targeting of Israel seems a newfound passion. The subject was absent from her first two books, as well as from her columns in the 1990s.

In 2007, however, Klein devoted a chapter of The Shock Doctrine to her theory that Israel seeks war for financial gain. In January, when Israel fought to end Hamas rocket attacks, Klein called for a global boycott –against Israel, not Hamas.

And now, in a cover story for this month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine, Klein offers a revisionist whitewash of the anti-Semitic Durban conference of 2001, laments the collapse of this year’s Durban II conference and portrays Jewish organizations as lying profiteers who sabotaged this UN cure-all for racism. As she did in Ramallah, Klein accuses my organization, UN Watch, of “misinformation,” yet fails to name a single example.

Ignoring the mass “Kill the Jews” marches during the 2001 conference, Klein accuses the late Congressman Tom Lantos and other Jewish delegates of creating a false memory, belatedly conflating a harmless gathering with the 9/11 attacks that followed days later. In fact, the hate-fest was documented in numerous statements, news reports and editorials published during the event itself. She cites cherry-picked quotes from Shimon Peres to support her arguments, without mentioning that he instructed his delegates to walk out of the Durban conference, describing it as “a farce” where “human rights were defeated,” and as a “court of mockery of justice.”

As to Durban II, Klein’s fictionalized account imagines that a newly hired UN bureaucrat was the organizing force, but avoids any mention of Najat Al-Hajjaji, the representative of Libya’s Colonel Qaddafiwho actually headed the two-year Durban II planning process, as well as the final conference’s main committee. The essay has gone completely ignored.

But Klein has certainly succeeded in becoming today’s leading opponent of Israel in the Western world. While this is a new role for someone famous as an anti-capitalist crusader, the truth is that Klein has nurtured a strange rage against her own people, faith and national cause, from a remarkably young age.

At 12, as Klein has proudly recounted, she wrote her Bat Mitzvah speech “about Jews being racist.” Her target then was attitudes supposedly held by her sixth-grade classmates in Montreal’s well-respected Jewish People’s School.

This was only prelude to a central episode in the Klein mythology, about which she boasts in biographical interviews.

As a college student in 1990, Klein wrote an editorial (see the University of Toronto’s student newspaper The Varsity, entitled “Victim to victimizer.” In her various accounts, Klein describes a simple op-ed that urged Israel to “end the occupation not only for the Palestinians, but also for its own people, especially its women.” To organize a response, she claims, no less than 500 Jewish students gathered for a “lynch mob” meeting. However, she showed up herself, unrecognized, and stood up and told them off. “I was 19,” Klein told the Guardian, “and it made me tough.” The experience “prepared me for controversy,” empowering her to take on multinationals and the World Bank. Heroic stuff.

The facts, though, tell a very different story.

Klein’s article was anything but normal. Its thesis sentence and blaring headline: “What Israel has become: Racism and misogyny at the core of its being.”

“Israeli men,” she said, “reach maturity by brutalizing and degrading Palestinians.” Then there was “Israeli men’s misogyny toward Israeli women.”

Most disturbing, said Klein, “is something known to Israeli women as ‘Holocaust pornography,’ where images of emaciated women near ovens, shower heads, cattle cars and the like are used to sell clothing and other products.” Jewish women, she informed her readers, “are sexualized as Holocaust victims for Israeli men to masturbate over … the themes are fire, gas, trains, emaciation and death.”

If such aberrant ads or magazines ever existed, they were well hidden. But Klein was looking to demonize — not only Israel, but Judaism, and Jews.

“A Jewish education is an education of fear,” continued Klein. “Jews made the shift from victims to victimizers with terrifying ease.”

“I wish to be saved from Israel,” she concluded. “I am a Jew against Israel — just as Israel repeatedly proves itself to be against me.”

Interestingly, all this Goebbelslike venom — Israel as wicked, racist and depraved in its essence — as well as the article’s hysteria, rage and paranoia, are erased from Klein’s later accounts.

As to her alleged confrontation of a lynch mob, the Canadian Jewish News reported a meeting between 50 Jewish students and the Varsity editors, noting Klein’s attendance. It says nothing about her supposed dramatic intervention. Others present don’t recall any. Either way, Klein claims the community’s outrage changed her life, scaring her into silence on Israel for over 10 years. Now she’s back, and with a vengeance.

Two decades ago–in the “Victim to victimizer” article that she continues to revere, even as she has been hiding its true contents — Klein asked Toronto to hate Israel on the grounds that “racism and misogyny” were “at the core of its being,” a society sick on “Holocaust pornography.”

In her recent op-ed calling on Toronto to boycott Israeli films, Klein attacks the Jewish state for objecting to the Goldstone inquiry on Gaza created by the UN Human Rights Council — in which the Arab-controlled body declared Israel guilty in advance.

The path to Middle East peace requires mutual dialogue, recognition and compromise — not irrational boycotts motivated by selective morality, anger and rage.

Hillel Neuer is executive director of UN Watch in Geneva (

NED’s Carl Gershman speaks in Africa for human rights while perpetrators obfuscate at Durban II

“Our meeting today just happens to coincide with the opening of the UN’s Durban Review Conference in Geneva.  I regret that this conference, like the first Durban meeting, will be an exercise in obfuscation, scapegoating, and evasion, and that some of the worst violators of human rights will use it as a forum to point the finger at others and to decry everything but the real offenses.  This has a deeply corrupting effect on the entire UN system and on the international legal and moral norms that have been established over the past six decades.”  — Carl Gershman, President, the National Endowment for Democracy, at “Johannesburg + 10: The All Africa Human Rights Defenders Conference,” April 20, 2009, Kampala, Uganda.

(Source: Continue reading ‘NED’s Carl Gershman speaks in Africa for human rights while perpetrators obfuscate at Durban II’

Denis MacShane MP, Member of the UK Parliament, at Durban II Parallel Conference

Durban 2 Conference: speech given at parallel NGO conference

Denis MacShane, MP, at Conference Against Racism, Discrimination and Persecution
Co-Organized by UN Watch and 20 other human rights NGOs, Geneva, 22 April 2009

Let us just imagine that this week the leader of a so-called Christian or northern caucasian state had taken the podium at a United Nations conference and made remarks about Muslims or about black people or about a democratically constituted rule of law nation such as those that were made by the President of Iran on Monday. There would have been an outcry. There would have been a mass walk out from Latin America, from Africa, from Asia. There would have been calls for sanctions and reform of the UN to prevent such a scandal happening again.

Continue reading ‘Denis MacShane MP, Member of the UK Parliament, at Durban II Parallel Conference’

Durban II outcome document formally adopted

The final outcome document of the Durban Review Conference was formally adopted at the U.N. today.

Click here for the U.N. report of the conference.

In general debate at the close of the conference, countries took the floor to congratulate one another for reaching Tuesday’s “consensus” on the text. A few states, though, had clarifications regarding their acceptance of it.

The United Kingdom said it could affirm the document only because it is “generic and does not single out any country.” Referring to paragraphs relating to freedom of speech and incitement to hatred, it said, “we have a long tradition of free speech and offensive opinions may be expressed,” as long as they are non-violent. The UK also stated that discrimination based on sexual orientation is no less important than discrimination on racial grounds.

Pakistan called on U.N. officials to “maintain balance” and “not judge any heads of state.” It also decried Islamophobia as a new form of racism. In closing, it chastised those who boycotted the conference or only participated at a low level.

South Africa expressed its concern about “the manner in which some expressed their opposition to a head of state.” Referring implicitly to the students in clown wigs who yelled at Iranian President Ahmadinejad, it decried the endangering of the “security of high dignitaries.”

Russia specifically thanked the Palestinian delegation, implicitly for its “flexibility” in permitting the text to exclude the singling out of the Palestinian cause (unlike the 2001 Durban text).

Switzerland commended the text for mentioning freedom of expression, democracy, the Holocaust, the slave trade, women’s rights, and various forms of discrimination. (It neglected to mention that freedom of expression, the Holocaust and women’s rights were downplayed throughout the negotiation process and reduced in the final text compared to earlier drafts, as well as the document’s failure to mention discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.)

U.N. side event gives platform to anti-Zionist conspiracy theorist

Yesterday at the U.N., a panel discussion on “Islamophobia” turned heated when its focus shifted to anti-Zionist conspiracy theories. This side event to the Durban Review Conference was organized by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, a key agitator of the 2001 Durban NGO forum, known for its anti-Semitism that was denounced by High Commissioner Navi Pillay as a betrayal of the anti-racism cause.

Continue reading ‘U.N. side event gives platform to anti-Zionist conspiracy theorist’

Abusers defend rights records at Durban II

At the U.N. Durban Review Conference today, countries that lack basic freedoms took the floor to defend their human rights records.

Belarus said “There are no ethnic, racial, religious or language clashes in our country.”

Saudi Arabia said, “Shari’a emphasizes equality regardless of gender or race.”

Another tactic employed by human rights abusers was to point the finger of blame at other countries to deflect attention from their own violations.

Saudi Arabia and the Arab League highlighted Israel’s abuses of the rights of Palestinian people. Saudi Arabia noted that this issue was explicit in the 2001 Durban declaration (reaffirmed by the present conference).

North Korea condemned “Japanese colonialism” and accused Japan of systemic discrimination against Koreans.

Both Saudi Arabia and North Korea also deplored the “defamation of religions,” particularly Islam.

Another noteworthy point: Turkey denied the 1915 Armenian genocide, arguing that no international tribunal officially declared the events a genocide.

EU countries, including Belgium, Portugal, Slovenia, and Denmark on the other hand, took the floor to condemn the hateful remarks of Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

Denmark said, “We could choose to stay silent. But the remarks relating in particular to Israel were so abominable that we must react. The intervention must be understood as incitement to hatred.”

The Return of Human Rights: How Durban II Was Defeated

During the week of the U.N. Durban II conference in Geneva, UN Watch organized a series of major events in Geneva, together with large coalitions of non-governmental organizations, that succeeded in restoring the true cause of human rights to its rightful place.


Click below to see videos, text and photos:



Photos of Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, 19 April 2009, organized by UN Watch and 30 other human rights NGOs

–> AP photos (Part 1) of Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy

–> AP Photos (part 2)

Photos of Yom Hashoah Holocaust Commemoration, 20 April 2009, organized by UN Watch and Geneva communities. Featuring Elie Wiesel, Bernard Henri-Levy, Professor Irwin Cotler and Father Patrick Desbois

–> More photos of Yom Hashoah   Enter gallery code: yomhashoa

UN Watch annual dinner awarding human rights prizes to Ester Mujawayo of Rwanda, and Nazanin Afshin-Jam, President of Stop Child Executions and former Miss Canada. Held in Geneva, 21 April 2009.

–> Photos of award winners

Photos of Conference Against Racism, Discrimination and Persecution, Geneva, 22 April 2009, organized by UN Watch and 20 other NGOs

Reuters photos (10-13) of Rally for Israel, Human Rights and Peace

Divergences of opinion clear on third day of Durban II

Differences in viewpoints between countries and regions were evident at yesterday’s meeting of the Durban Review Conference. Topics discussed included anti-Semitism, “Islamophobia,” homophobia, foreign occupation, and poverty.

Continue reading ‘Divergences of opinion clear on third day of Durban II’

Day 2 at Durban II: Islamic States condemn Israel, “defamation of religions”

At Tuesday’s high level segment of the Durban Review Conference, Qatar, Indonesia, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Palestine and Cuba all highlighted “the plight of the Palestinian people” and condemned Israel as a “racist” state.

Continue reading ‘Day 2 at Durban II: Islamic States condemn Israel, “defamation of religions”’

Sudan calls ICC racist

Towards the close of Tuesday’s high-level segment at the Durban Review Conference, Sudan‘s Deputy Justice Minister, Abdel Daiem Zumrawi gave a fiery speech, denouncing the decision of the International Criminal Court to indict Sudan’s President al-Bashir for the genocide in Darfur.

“The accusation of the President does not relate to doing of justice or bringing of peace and stability,” he said. “We are of the opinion that the ICC is being employed as a racist instrument that goes after certain groups while overlooking others.”

Zumrawi then blamed this “absence of justice” for breeding “malice, terrorism and extremism.”

He went on to denounce “heinous crimes committed against the Palestinian people by the Israeli occupation” and said, “the protection offered Israel by some Western countries” is the reason it continues to “act against humanity.”

Zumrawi also decried the “ongoing smearing campaign against the religion of Islam and its Prophet.”

Moreover, his speech attempted to portray Sudan as a country committed to human rights, claiming, for example, that Sudan’s constitution calls for the full representation of marginalized areas.

Cuba says racism most developed in industrialized countries

Speaking at the high-level segment of the Durban Review Conference on Tuesday, Cuba said that “in the industrialized countries you see racism most developed” and compared racism to the “growing gap between the rich and the poor.” It also encouraged reparations for the trans-Atlantic slave trade, decried anti-terror legislation as a form of racism, and stressed its support for the Palestinian people and solidarity with the people of the third World. Referring to the countries that stayed away from Durban II, Cuba complained about the “artificial allegations of a small number of countries who chose to isolate themselves from our efforts.”

UN Watch hosts conference to spotlight victims’ voices

Across town from Place des Nations, another conference was held yesterday morning in parallel with the U.N. Durban Review Conference to truly spotlight the voices of victims of racism and discrimination. Sponsored by UN Watch and other NGOs, the “Conference Against Racism, Discrimination and Persecution,” featured a diverse set of expert panelists who raised issues of genocide, state-sanctioned persecution, the rights of women and homosexuals, and anti-Semitism.

Continue reading ‘UN Watch hosts conference to spotlight victims’ voices’

Iranian representatives attempting intimidation of activists

There are reports that Iranian representatives and front groups have tried to intimidate activists at Durban II, but they have failed to silence any voices.

Continue reading ‘Iranian representatives attempting intimidation of activists’

Syria says “foreign occupation” on par with racism at Durban II

Speaking at the high-level segment of the Durban Review Conference today, Syrian Foreign Minister Dr. Faysal Mekdad said that the purpose of Durban II is to address “racism, discrimination, foreign occupation, and intolerance.” The actual stated goal of the conference is to review implementation of the 2001 Durban Declaration against “racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.”

In raising “foreign occupation” as a key agenda item of the conference, Syria was attempting to draw attention to its political conflict with Israel over the Syrian Golan, and also to raise the Palestinian issue.

The minister went on to accuse Israel of perpetrating ethnic cleansing since 1948, Judea-ifing Israel, and threatening to “throw the Palestinians into the sea” (an interesting twist on the Hamas/Hezbollah call to throw the Jews into the sea). He decried Israel’s law granting the right of return and citizenship to Jews as discrimination.

Mekdad also claimed that Syria’s laws hold accountable and punish all acts of racism. He then deplored the “misrepresentation of religious symbols” and said that discrimination against Muslims has reached “unacceptable levels.”

At Durban II, Palestine condemns Israel as world’s worst violator

Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Riyad al-Maliki took the floor this morning at the U.N. Durban Review Conference to condemn Israeli occupation of Palestine as “the worst violation of human rights” and “the ugliest face of racism and racial discrimination.”

Calling Israel the “occupying power,” he criticized various Israeli policies as violations of international norms, including the building of the “separation wall,” purported attempts to Judea-ize Jerusalem and prevent Christians and Muslims from reaching places of worship, use of security check-points, “robbery of water,” and blockade and “collective punishment” of Gaza.

He argued that comments regarding the Jewish nature of Israel amount to racism and related intolerance. He asked the international community to use Durban II to review progress on the 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action, which had singled out the plight of Palestinian people.

Towards the close of his speech, al-Maliki said he recognizes the rights of Israel and the Israeli people to live in security, but also advocated the Palestinian “right of return.”

Ahmadinejad speaks at Durban II; EU walks out

During Iranian President Ahmadinejad‘s address to the Durban Review Conference, representatives of the European Union and other delegations admirably left the chamber in protest when he accused Western countries of “resorting to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of protecting Jews” following World War II.

As he began to talk, a man in a clown wig ran through the hall, calling out the Iranian President as a racist. Ahmadinejad asked the guests to “forgive these ignorant people.”

As expected, Ahmadinejad focused his attacks on the West and Israel. He condemned the “cruel and racist regime in Palestine,” complaining that the U.N. Security Council has enabled its survival over the last sixty years. “The word Zionism personifies racism,” he said. “Efforts must be made to silence the will of Zionists and their supporters.”

Ahmadinejad then deplored “world powers” who “mobilize all their resources, including their economic and political resources and the world media, to render support to the vain Zionist regime.” He continued, “Governments must be encouraged and supported in their fights aimed to eradicated this barbaric racism.” These remarks were met with applause from the audience.

Ahmadinejad also blasted the U.S. in particular, suggesting that racism is the root cause of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and support of the “usurper Zionist regime.” 

He blamed the global economic crisis on the U.S. and decried market economies in general, which he claimed deny opportunities for other economies in the world. He encouraged reform of the world financial institutions and the Security Council.

The following speech by the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store vigorously challenged Ahmadinejad, calling him “the odd man out to hijack the conference.”

“We will not surrender the floor of the United Nations to extremism,” Gahr Store said.

Referring to the draft Durban II text, the minister stated, “Freedom of expression, yes, but our document is also clear on incitement of hatred and this is what I heard in the President’s speech — incitement to hatred.”

While saying Norway could accept the text as is, he criticized it for inadequately addressing the Holocaust, and said that the conference alone will not solve the problem of racism.

UPDATE:   In its right of reply, Iran condemned the statement of Norway, along with those of Argentina, Sweden, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia. “We strongly reject the unwarranted and unsubstantiated references made in those statements and consider them as malicious, unacceptable and out of order” the representative said. “It is regrettable that the right of freedom of expression is so wrongly and narrowly defined by some.”

The delegate expressed his wish that the Norwegian foreign minister would have heard the applause given the President of Iran by so many delegations in participation. He said the President should be allowed to strongly condemn the “mass killing of innocent people.”

Moreover, the delegate deplored the remarks by “certain high ranking officials of the United Nations,” including Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. He said they should uphold the “principle of impartiality” and “refrain from making judgmental remarks.”

True voice of Iran preempts Ahmadinejad at Durban II

Just moments before Iranian President Ahmadinejad was set to address the Durban Review Conference today, another gathering in the Palais des Nations challenged the U.N. for giving a forum– during a conference meant to address racism and intolerance– to a leader who violates the rights of his own people and incites genocide.

Speaking at a side even organized by UN Watch, Iranian dissident and former prisoner of conscience, Ahmad Batebi, argued that Ahmadinejad does not represent the Iranian people. The Iranian people do not want to wipe Israel off the map nor do they support terrorism, as does the Iranian government. He went on to cite various abuses of the State, noting that 112 students currently languish in Iranian prisons for protesting government policies.

Batebi said that just today he was threatened by a representative of the Islamic Republic, who told him he would be killed at the U.N.

Batebi was followed by Fakhteh Zamani, President of the Association for Defense of Azerbaijani political prisoners in Iran. She addressed the urgent plight of Iranian Azeris who face consistent, state-sanctioned persecution as an ethnic minority.

Canadian MP Irwin Cotler also addressed the gathering, describing Ahmadinejad as a man who incites genocide, stands in violation of the U.N. Charter, and represses his own people. It shames the cause of human rights and anti-racism for such a leader to be a welcome guest at the conference, he said.

Rwanda, Darfur survivors urge international action against genocide

On the eve of “Yom Hashoah,” the day to remember the Holocaust, genocide survivors from Rwanda and Darfur spoke at a side event to the Durban Review Conference, organized by UN Watch.

Rwandan genocide survivor and activist Esther Mujawayo said she felt uncomfortable speaking in a U.N. building, considering that the U.N. failed to halt the Rwandan genocide, choosing instead to abandon the country when the killing began. “This was a clear predictable and preventable genocide,” she said.

She complained that the Rwandan perpetrators continue to live in peace even in Europe, while survivors of the genocide struggle to obtain asylum.

Gibreil Hamid, President of the Darfur Peace and Development Center, said the ongoing genocide in Darfur is also preventable and stoppable. Discussing his experience, he said, “We were clearly discriminated against because we were black. The Arabs were not accepting us as Muslims.”

He described the killing and rape of women and children in Darfur in the perpetrators’ attempt to exterminate entire villages.

A “Yom Hashoah” ceremony to remember the Holocaust will be held this evening, beginning at 18:30, outside the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Must-see video: U.N. clash when Libyan chair of Durban 2 exposed for hypocrisy by victim testimony

Must-see video of the full confrontation with Libyan chair of Durban 2:  The video

The Geneva Summit Manifesto of Human Rights Victims

The following was declared at the conclusion of the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, by leading human rights activists from around the world:  Saad Eddin Ibrahim of Egypt; Jose Castillo of Cuba; Gibreil Hamid of Darfur, Sudan; Soe Aung of Burma; Marlon Zakeyo of Zimbabwe; and Gonzalo Himiob Santome of Venezuela. UN Watch, SOS Racisme, Freedom House and 30 human rights groups from around the world organized the event on the eve of the Durban Review Conference, to urge the UN to address compelling issues of discrimination and human rights.



Declaration of “Eternal Vigilance”

19 April 2009, Geneva

Having assembled at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, and on the proposal by the Venezuelan NGOs represented at the, it was decided to create a forum and platform for “Eternal Vigilance” that is integrated by all NGOs, human rights defenders, human rights protection institutions, former and present victims of discrimination on the basis of opinion, political persecution, prisoners and prisoners of conscience, to fulfill the objectives listed below.

This proposal was supported by the representatives of Zimbabwe, China, Cuba, Iran, Burma, Belarus, Sudan (Darfur), Venezuela and Egypt, taking into account that in those countries the governments do not respect human rights; have proved to be intolerant in several ways against dissidents; and in fact have arrested, sentenced, and imprisoned activists that work towards freedom and democracy.

We call on these governments to release all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience as defined by Amnesty International, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, and regional human rights organizations, and commit to work to resolve the critical human rights situations in their respective countries.

We call on the democratic governments to develop a systematic effort to improve human rights in countries where there is a critical human rights situation.

We hereby launch the campaign “Freedom for All.” This campaign consists in raising awareness in consciousness of the plight of all political prisoners in the world currently serving unjust prison sentences for defending human rights in some manner. We establish a map of liberation, which demonstrates which countries have and do not have political prisoners.

We invite all who wish to join to make this their struggle and cause for freedom. We ask for support for all those struggling for human rights and freedom around the world. We call on political, religious and student leaders, intellectuals, artists, and everyone, to struggle for the life and liberty of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

We call on members of the UN General Assembly to take into account and question candidates for membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council and vote against candidates that are systematic human rights violators, to avoid having the council undermined.

Human rights defenders and activists gather at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance, and Democracy

Just a day before the “Durban II” Review Conference, the U.N.’s talkfest to address racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, human rights defenders and activists from around the world gathered in Geneva this morning to address the issues they wish the conference would itself address. Brought to the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance, and Democracy by a broad coalition of more than thirty NGOs., including UN Watch, these activists spoke out for victims of genocide and challenged the world’s authoritarian regimes.

Continue reading ‘Human rights defenders and activists gather at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance, and Democracy’

UN Watch Turns Tables on Libyan Chair, Exposes Durban 2 Hypocrisy; Qaddafi’s rep panics

Below UN Watch testimony as just delivered. The speaker’s delivery was perfect. Mrs. Najjat Al-Hajjaji, the Libyan chair, made every mistake. She interrupted the witness at 3 different points — and then gave Libya (!) the floor to make an objection, and finally cut him off. But nevertheless he got in the important parts. The room was gripped. It was the top story on Swiss TV news tonight (TSR).

Click for France 24 video (in English)

Click here for Swiss TV video (in French). Stay tuned for the eventual YouTube video of the full speech.

Also: click here for the legal complaint filed by the Bulgarian nurses against Libya with the UN Human Rights Committee — the highest international tribual for individual human rights complaints — with UN Watch acting as co-counsel with Dr. Liesbeth Zegveld. It is released here now for the first time to the public.

And click here for related complaint filed by Dr. El-Hojouj last year.

Both Dr. Dr. El-Hojouj and Bulagrian nurse Kristiyna Valcheva will testify before the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, this Sunday, 19 April 2009. Watch live webcast at Dr. El-Hojouj will be able to deliver his full speech — without interruptions. 



United Nations Durban Review Conference
Preparatory Committee, Third Substantive Session
17 April 2009, Geneva

Statement by United Nations Watch
Delivered by Ashraf Ahmed El-Hojouj

Thank you, Madame Chair.

I don’t know if you recognize me. I am the Palestinian medical intern who was scapegoated by your country, Libya, in the HIV case in the Benghazi hospital, together with five Bulgarian nurses.

Section 1 of the draft declaration for this conference speaks about victims of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. Based on my own suffering, I wish to offer some proposals.

Starting in 1999, as you know, the five nurses and I were falsely arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned, brutally tortured, convicted, and sentenced to death. All of this, which lasted for nearly a decade, was for only one reason: because the Libyan government was looking to scapegoat foreigners.

Madame Chair, if that is not discrimination, then what is?

On the basis of my personal experience, I would like to propose the following amendments regarding remedies, redress and compensatory measures:

One: The United Nations should condemn countries that scapegoat, falsely arrest, and torture vulnerable minorities.

Two: Countries that have committed such crimes must recognize their past, and issue an official, public, and unequivocal apology to the victims.

Three:  In accordance with Article 2, paragraph 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, such countries must provide victims of discrimination with an appropriate remedy, including adequate compensation for material and immaterial damage.

Madame Chair, Libya told this conference that it practices no inequality or discrimination.

But then how do you account for what was done to me, to my colleagues, and to my family, who gave over thirty years serving your country, only to be kicked out  from their home, threatened with death, and subjected to state terrorism?

How can your government chair the planning committee for a world conference on discrimination, when it is on the list of the world’s worst of the worst, when it comes to discrimination and human rights violations?

When will your government recognize their crimes, apologize to me, to my colleagues, and to our families?

This week, at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, the five nurses and I will present our complaint and compensation claim against Libya, filed with the UN Human Rights Committee, the highest international tribunal for individual petitions.

The slogan for this Conference is “Dignity and justice for all.” Does this include your own country’s victims of discrimination?

Thank you, Madame Chair.

New Durban 2 text says “foreign occupation” is racism

Following is a summary of the 3rd substantive session of the Durban Review Preparatory Committee, which met yesterday and today, and which concludes tomorrow. Continue reading ‘New Durban 2 text says “foreign occupation” is racism’

Who pays for Durban II?

Country             Amount            Freedom House Rating              Comments
Russia               $600,000                    Not Free
Saudi Arabia     $150,000                    Not Free                              Pledged
Kuwait              $100,000                    Partly Free                           Pledged
Iran                    $40,000                    Not Free                              Pledged
China                 $20,000                    Not Free        another $20,000 pledged
Morocco              $22,000                   Partly Free
Indonesia           $20,000                      Free                                   Pledged
Palestine              $1,700                    Not Free
Switzerland       unknown                       Free                for NGO participation
Syria                  unknown                   Not Free

(Based on information of the UN Secretariat and announcements by States)

Cuba rejects freedom of expression; Iran and Syria oppose Holocaust remembrance (again) in Durban II talks

The closing session of the working group on the draft Durban II declaration was held today at the U.N. Human Rights Council. The debate centered on Holocaust remembrance, freedom of expression, and general differences of opinion between Western and Islamic states.  

Continue reading ‘Cuba rejects freedom of expression; Iran and Syria oppose Holocaust remembrance (again) in Durban II talks’

Iran attempts domination of racism debate

In today’s afternoon meeting of the Durban II working group at the U.N. Human Rights Council, Iran was extremely active, proposing amendments and language changes in more paragraphs than any other state, and in a few instances, ignoring the Chair’s plea to hold off on certain paragraphs for the time being and engage in a constructive manner.

Continue reading ‘Iran attempts domination of racism debate’

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