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In Anti-Nuclear March, Free Palestine Chants Trigger Questions of Iran and NPT

By Matthew Russell Lee

TIMES SQUARE TO UNITED NATIONS, May 2 -- In the anti-nuclear march to the UN from Times Square, scene last night of a bomb scare, there were chants incluing "Free, Free Palestine!" Teenage girl held a sign saying "Israel," cut out in the shape of a skull.

  To a UN correspondent covering the NPT, one wondered of the place of Iran and its nuclear program to these protesters. Among the Western powers in the Security Council, Iran's nuclear ambitions have become the focus, to the exclusion of death in Sudan and the Congo.

  Many of those so eager to target Iran are not against nukes at all. They are against Iran, and to a lesser extent North Korea, getting nuclear weapons. These marchers, on the other hand, see defending the rights of Palestinians against Israel as part of their movement. And of defending, as some would have it, Iran against Israel?

Marching skull (c) 2010 M.Lee

  There were marchers from upstate New York, and a slew of Japanese handing out origami birds. There was a contingent from France, with their own "ca pu" chant. There were few to no Latinos. A lone woman lobbied to amend New York's wrongful death statute. But there were few to no signs about Iran. This will not be true for the rest of the week, or NPT. Inner City Press has been invited to cover Ahmadinejad's press conference. Watch this site.

Update of 5:26 p.m. -- UN correspondents for Iranian media tell Inner City Press that Ahmadinejad is slated to land in New York in half an hour. They think, but even they are not sure, that he will stay in the Millennium Plaza hotel across from the UN. Might he intersect with the anti-nuke marchers, still on 47th Street?

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At UN, Iran's Mottaki Says Protesters Are Dealt With, Nuclear Sites All Reported

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 1 -- In Iran "there are some people, a limited number of people, who look for trouble and want to create unreal," Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the Press on Thursday. "It is very clear how they should be dealt with." Video here, from Minute 31:55.

  During a Q&A session at the UN in New York, nearly all of which dealt with nuclear issues, Inner City Press asked Mottaki about a story of post-election torture, rape and exile, which Inner City Press heard from Ebrahim Sharifi by cell phone on September 21. Sharifi states that he joined the non violent street protests then was picked up, blindfolded and held for a week.

  Inner City Press asked Mottaki if he acknowledged the veracity of any such charges, if people can file complaints in Iran and what he thinks of the call for a UN General Assembly special envoy to Iran on human rights issues. Video here, from Minute 25:43, Mottaki's reponse here from Minute 27:08.

  Mottaki's more then five minute answer became with calling the June elections "the most glorious presidential elections in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran." Mottaki claimed the skeptics, once they received an explanation, were convinced. This left a few trouble makers -- "it is very clear how they should be dealt with."

UN's Ban, Ahmadinejad, Motakki and Zarif, pre election violence

  Mottaki said that Iran has vibrant NGOs, which rather than complain in Geneva to the Human Rights Council come to the UN in New York to participate in workshops about the rights on women.

  On Iran's nuclear program, Mottaki said that other than Qom, there are no other sites not reported to the IAEA. The press conference ended with a report for a newspaper in Israel calling for the floor, without receiving it. He was told by the UN's spokesperson that the UN is an "inter-governmental body... we cannot do anything about what member states do." Apparently not.

Footnote: Mottaki, before traveling to DC, wiled away the evening of September 29 at Indonesia's Independence Day celebration in the UN Delegates' Dining Room. There were satays, rice and noodles. One attending, chewing, snarked that at such receptions, the quality of the food is in inverse proportion to the amount of democracy in the hosting nation.

   Inner City Press has previously written about, and sampled, Iran's kebab diplomacy, click here for that. Seven thousand years of culture...

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Amid Tales of Iran Torture, UN and Ban Urged To Speak, Treki Role Questioned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 21 -- As Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepares to speak Wednesday before the UN General Assembly, across First Avenue on Monday two non-governmental organizations briefed the press on the arrests and killings of protesters that followed the recent contested election. By cellphone, 24-year old computer scientist Ebrahim Sharifi told the Press about his abduction on June 22 leading to a week of torture, mock execution and rape.

  Sharifi has since fled Iran, having been told the rest of his family is also in danger. He worked on the campaign of Mehdi Karroubi; later, the government accused Karroubi -- or Mir-Hussein Mousavi -- of paying Sharifi to make the allegations.

  While many of the protests of Ahmadinejad's UN visit focus on the nuclear or Israel issues, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and Human Rights Watch on Monday called on the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution appointing a special envoy to Iran.

  Inner City Press asked for the panelists' review of the performance of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the Iran human rights and democracy issues. Steve Crawshaw of HRW was typically diplomatic, saying that while he is sure there is "robust" advocacy by the UN "behind closed doors," it is "very important that [Ban] makes his voice heard... repeatedly." In fact, Ban's Spokesperson has been asked repeatedly for comment on Iran, and has declined comment.

UN's Ban and Ahmadinejad, talk and envoy on torture not shown

  Since the new General Assembly is headed by Libyan Ali Treki, Inner City Press asked if this might have any impact on the likelihood of the Assembly addressing these Iran issues. Crawshaw, again diplomatic, said that while he didn't wish to pre-judge, every country should be worried when people are shot and killed. Yeah...

Footnote: at a briefing for countries' missions to the UN, the NY Police Department predicted 12,000 protesters of Ahmadinejad, diplomatic sources in the meeting tell Inner City Press...

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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