Dow Jones Business News April 15, 1997

U.N. Panel Urges Iran To Stop Violence Against Exiles

GENEVA (AP)--The U.N. Human Rights Commission on Tuesday urged Iran to stop attacks on exiled opponents of the Iranian government.

Introducing a resolution calling Iran to account, the head of the Dutch delegation, Peter van Wulfften Palthe, said the sponsors 'deeply deplore' alleged involvement of the top levels of the Iranian government in murders of opponents in Germany.

He noted that a Berlin court last week had convicted four men of killing Iranian dissidents in Germany and said the orders to kill had come from Iranian leaders.

Such state support for murder 'can only be described as an act of terrorism,' van Wulfften Palthe said.

Iranian Ambassador Bozorgmehr Ziaran ignored the Berlin verdict but said that some of the U.N. criticism of Iran was based on 'misinformation,' but he did not elaborate.

Ziaran said the wording of the resolution was almost identical in wording to previous resolutions on Iran and should be toned down because a special U.N. investigator had found Iran was improving its human-rights observance.

He quoted the investigator's conclusion that 'Iran is a complex and dynamic society' with 'a lively debate on many public issues.'

The 53-nation commission then voted 26-7 to express a broad range of concerns about rights in Iran, including second-class status for women even though progress was being made 'to integrate women more fully into the political, economic and cultural life of the country.'

Nineteen countries, most of them African, abstained. One country, Ukraine, didn't vote.

The resolution called on Iran 'to provide satisfactory written assurances that it does not support or incite threats against the life' of British author Salman Rushdie.

It was renewing the commission's appeal to Iranian leaders to renounce the 1989 demand by Iran's revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, that Muslims to kill Rushdie for blasphemy in his writing.

It noted 'the large number of executions in the apparent absence of respect of internationally recognized safeguards, cases of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including amputation and public executions.

The resolution called upon the Iranian government 'to refrain from violence against members of the Iranian opposition living abroad and to cooperate wholeheartedly with the authorities of other countries in investigating and prosecuting offenses reported by them.'

Among cosponsors were Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.