UN anti-racism panel calls on Iran to counter hatred

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Farzin Farzad

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Aug 28, 2010, 9:49:39 AM8/28/10
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http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100827/wl_mideast_afp/unrightsracismminoritiesiran_20100827112900

UN anti-racism panel calls on Iran to counter hatred
Fri Aug 27

GENEVA (AFP) – The UN anti-racism panel Friday called on Iran to
counter racism and ethnic discrimination, including incitement to
hatred by officials and "double discrimination suffered by women from
minorities.
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed
concern at the exclusion of Arab, Azeri, Balochi, Kurdish and Bahai
communities in areas such as housing, education, health, jobs and
"from public life".
It also noted the hurdles ethnic minorities faced despite the
country's economic growth.
Committee member Dilip Lahiri told journalists the panel felt
discrimination against the Bahai community was "quite rampant",
despite a debate over whether the issue was a religious one and thus
out of the panel's remit.
The panel's 18 experts said they were concerned at "the reports of
discrimination in everyday life and statements of racial
discrimination and incitement to hatred by government officials."
"While commending efforts undertaken by the state party to empower
women, the committee is concerned that women of minority origin may be
at risk of facing double discrimination," they also noted.
"The committee recommends that (Iran) take appropriate steps to combat
manifestations in the media, as well as in everyday life, of racial
prejudice that could lead to discrimination."
Azeri communities were notably subjected to "stereotyped and
demeaning" portrayals in the media, while ethnic or religious
minorities faced "limited enjoyment of political, economic, social and
cultural rights."
Lahiri, a former Indian diplomat, noted that Iran had signed up to the
international anti-racism convention before the revolution that turned
it into an Islamic republic
"It does face a challenge in reconciling its Islamic constitution with
a secular convention, which is what we have," he remarked.
The panel's conclusions on Friday followed a regular review of Iran's
application of international standards in a hearing earlier this
month.
Iran had vaunted its cultural and ethnic diversity and told the
committee that all citizens were regarded as equals, underlining its
attempts to tackle poverty, especially in rural areas, and foster
dialogue.
Iranian officials also highlighted laws against social discrimination
during the hearing and a lack of complaints.
While the committee welcomed legislative changes five years ago
promoting citizenry rights, it cautioned that the absence of
complaints "is not proof" of the absence of discrimination.
It "may be the result of the victims' lack of awareness of their
rights, the lack of confidence on the part of indviduals in the police
or judicial authorities, or the authorities' lack of attention or
sensitivity to cases of racial discrimination," the UN rights panel
argued.
Iran was asked to report back in 2013 on measures taken to redress the
situation.
--
Farzin Farzad

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