New York: In a significant development, India voted "no" for Myanmar, and abstained for Iran and North Korea in the United Nations General Assembly vote.
A UN General Assembly committee on Thursday passed resolutions condemning human rights violations in Iran, North Korea and Myanmar.
The US voted "yes" for the resolutions on all three countries, while China voted "no" for Myanmar and North Korea but "yes" for Iran.
It is to be noted that US President Barack Obama had recently urged India to change its policy and condemn Myanmar’s military regime. However, India’s “no” vote for Myanmar clears India’s policy regarding the military regime.
Iran’s recent statement, meanwhile, on Jammu and Kashmir could be the factor for India’s stand. Of late, Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei had called upon the Muslims across the world to support the "struggle in Kashmir against Zionist regimes".
A top Iranian official lashed out at Britain as the "United Kingdom of devils”, North Korea's representative said his country would not change its much-condemned actions, while Myanmar's ambassador called the vote "seriously flawed”.
Opposition from China and other nations failed to stop the resolutions from passing with strong majorities.
"By condemning three of the world's most egregious human rights abusers and shining a spotlight on deplorable human rights practices in these countries, member states have stayed true to the founding values of the UN," said the United States' UN Ambassador Susan Rice.
Iran caused the most contested debate, with the Islamic Republic even trying to stop the vote going ahead.
"Violations continue and continue to worsen," said Canada's UN Ambassador John McNee, whose country led the 42 nations that co-sponsored the resolution.
Iran has consistently rejected international appeals over the use of torture and increasing use of public executions, including by stoning and strangulation, McNee said.
"This persistent attitude over time demonstrates a fundamental lack of respect for the United Nations, its human rights treaties and practices," he said.
Mohammed Javed Larijani, head of Iran's High Human Rights Council, told the committee the resolution was "harmful for international peace and coexistence”.
He accused the United States of being the "mastermind" of the now annual resolution.
"Our crime is that our democracy is not a replica, not an Xerox copy of western democracy. We do not want to be Western democracy," said Larijani.
Larijani highlighted deadly riots in Los Angeles, and protests in France that he said left "Paris was in flames like a war zone" to highlight what he called "misleading" accusations by the West about human rights.
Britain sent an intelligence agent to shoot an Iranian student killed during protests after Iran's disputed 2009 presidential election, he alleged.
The committee passed the resolution by 80 votes to 44, with 57 abstentions.
"Iran's lobbying against the resolution has spectacularly failed," said Philippe Bolopion, UN specialist for Human Rights Watch.
"This should be a wake-up call to Iran's government that the international community views it as a serial rights offender," he added
One hundred nations backed the resolution against North Korea, which condemned "torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including inhuman conditions of detention, public executions, extrajudicial and arbitrary detention."
China and other Asian nations were among 18 countries to vote against the resolution sponsored by European Union nations.
North Korea's deputy UN ambassador Pak Tok Hun called the resolution and the EU "confrontational”.
"This is a miscalculation to expect any change from us through the forceful adoption of fake resolutions," he told the meeting.
China voted against the motion saying "human right issues should be dealt with through dialogue and cooperation”.
China also led opposition to the resolution against the Myanmar junta, which highlighted the plight of political prisoners, the use of torture and inhuman treatment, child soldiers and attacks on civilians.
Despite the release on Saturday of Myanmar opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi, the resolution was backed by 96 nations and opposed by 28 with 60 abstaining.
"Finger pointing does not protect human rights," China's representative told the committee meeting.
Myanmar's Ambassador Than Swe called the resolution "seriously flawed”.
(With Agencies’ inputs)
First Published: Friday, November 19, 2010, 14:40