Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi criticized the use of the concept of human rights as a tool for achieving political objectives.
“The abuse of human rights for political objectives has diverted human rights from its true path,” Salehi said at the opening ceremony of the International Conference on Human Rights and Cultures in the capital, Tehran, on Monday.
“Human rights must become a discourse for all countries and nations and not be considered the private property of a small part of the international community,” Press TV quoted Salehi as saying.
Salehi further invoked the final communiqué of the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), saying that the statement stressed the need to adopt a constructive, non-selective, fair and non-political approach toward human rights.
Representatives from more than 100 countries attended the NAM summit that was held in Tehran in August, during which Iran assumed the rotating presidency of the movement for a three-year term.
Salehi noted that according to Islamic teachings, all religions must be held in respect and no person or group has the right to insult other peoples’ beliefs.
“Insulting and assaulting the beliefs of human societies are a clear violation of basic human rights,” the top diplomat pointed out.
Meanwhile, Salehi is set to take part in the ministerial meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the East African country of Djibouti.
Salehi will leave Tehran for Djibouti on Monday to attend the 39th meeting of the OIC foreign ministers which is due to be held on November 15-17 in the African country.
Issues such as Islamophobia, the plight of Palestinians, and the rise of the anti-Islamic far right prejudice in Europe will be discussed at the meeting.
In their last meeting in September on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the OIC foreign ministers issued a joint statement, calling on governments around the world ‘to take all appropriate measures, including necessary legislation against these acts that lead to incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence’.
The foreign ministers of the 57-nation bloc issued the statement in response to a blasphemous movie produced in the United States and a French magazine’s publication of cartoons that insult Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
In September, the US-made movie ‘Innocence of Muslims’, which insulted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), sparked outrage across the Muslim world.
The anti-Islam movie triggered days of huge demonstrations across Iran, Turkey, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, India, Iraq, Morocco, Syria, Kuwait, Nigeria, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Australia, Britain, the United States, France, Belgium, Australia and some other countries.
Judiciary to Probe Blogger’s Death
Judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights said it will investigate the death of Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti immediately and decisively.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the council announced that it will launch an immediate inquiry to identify those responsible for the death and will soon report on the results, ISNA reported.
The statement was issued after Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani ordered a probe into the case.
The statement said that ‘any person involved in the case, because of his negligence or fault,’ will be subjected to prosecution in the country’s judicial system.
Earlier in the day, Deputy Majlis Speaker Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard also said the parliament has formed a special committee to look into the suspicious death.
Sattar Beheshti, 35, was arrested in his home on October 30 and died in custody last week. His gained international publicity over the weekend. Beheshti was reportedly a factory worker and was not a well-known activist.
“The National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Majlis has investigated the issue and has formed a committee in this regard,” Abutorabi-Fard was quoted as saying. “The committee’s report will be announced to the nation and lawmakers.”
The announcement came after a speech by outspoken lawmaker Ahmad Tavakoli in the open session of the parliament, in which he criticized officials for their silence on Beheshti’s death.
“Why do the Foreign Ministry and judiciary not explain this? A death has happened and it should be explained,” said Tavakoli.
“How can summoning a blogger (for questioning) be useful? Why do you generate expenses for the Islamic system?” he asked.
“I recommend that instead of dealing harshly with bloggers, you go after corrupt officials,” Mehr News Agency quoted Tavakoli as saying.
Legislator Ebrahim Nekou, who represents Beheshti’s hometown of Robat Karim, also protested the death. “I want to express my objection to killing of a blogger in my constituency while asking why the case was not announced to the officials of the town and to me.”
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Iran on Friday to investigate Beheshti’s sudden death.
In 2010, Majlis played a major role in probing the deaths in detention of three people during the unrest that followed 2009 elections. The probe led to the dismissal of several judicial and police officials.
Commanders Warn US Against Violating Airspace
Commander of the Islamic Revolution’s Guards Corps (IRGC) said Iran will respond strongly to any violation of its airspace by the United States.
Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said on Sunday that the Islamic Republic’s fighter jets managed to force an American drone to leave Iran’s skies after it crossed into the Iranian airspace several days ago.
“An enemy’s unmanned aircraft was flying in the Persian Gulf. The drone was inside Iranian airspace. It mistakenly or intentionally entered Iranian airspace. Iran’s air defense systems and IRGC fighter jets did their job and forced the aircraft out of Iran’s skies. Evidently, if such intrusions take place in the future, we will protect our airspace,” he said, Fars News Agency reported.
Another senior military commander also said the Islamic Republic will respond strongly if the US drones repeat their intrusion into Iran’s airspace.
Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, commander of the Aerospace Division of the IRGC said on Sunday that the mission of the US drone repelled by the Iranian forces last week was to gather oil and economic intelligence around Kharg Island in southern Iran.
“According to the information we have, the mission of the drone was to gather intelligence and, in another sense, espionage,” Hajizadeh added.
The commander noted that the drone was also gathering information on oil tankers’ traffic in the area, but Iranian fighter jets showed timely reaction.
No Attack Outside Borders
Deputy commander of the IRGC said Iranian forces will never attack any aircraft beyond its international borders.
“We are exactly aware of all international laws on how to deal with foreign aircraft and aggression and will observe them,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami told reporters on Sunday referring to the recent US claims about Iranian warplanes firing at a US drone last week.
Salami noted that the drone had definitely been within the Iranian borders, ‘otherwise it would have not been fired at’.
The comments followed the Pentagon’s claims that two Iranian warplanes had fired at a US drone as it was conducting a routine, but classified surveillance mission over the Persian Gulf about 16 nautical miles off the Iranian coast last week.
Russia Supportive of Tehran-Washington Talks
Russia will support one-to-one talks between the United States and Iran on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told Financial Times that negotiations could help avert conflict between Israel and Iran.
Asked what Moscow’s reaction to direct talks would be, Ryabkov told the FT: “We will not have a word against this. Of course, we would hope we would be informed on the content of these arrangements.
“We are down to earth,” he added. “We want something that will bring everyone out of this morass.”
Ryabkov, Russia’s chief negotiator on Iran’s nuclear program, confirmed that informal contacts between the US and Iran were ongoing.
Iran has not ruled out direct talks with Washington but says they will not come overnight.
Obama’s re-election last week drew an ambiguous response from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who dismissed the US elections as a ‘battleground for the capitalists’, at a forum on democracy in Indonesia.
Last month, the White House said it is prepared to talk one-on-one with Iran to find a diplomatic settlement to the impasse over Tehran’s peaceful nuclear program, but there’s no agreement now to meet.
“It’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections,” Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman. But he added that the administration was open to such talks and has ‘said from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally’.
The New York Times reported, citing Obama administration officials, that the United States and Iran had agreed in principle to one-on-one negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, though the White House quickly denied the report.
Reports of the deal have circulated among a small group of diplomats involved with Iran.
Vice President in Iraq to Promote Ties
Vice President for international affairs Ali Saeedlou, in a meeting with Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi on Monday, urged both Tehran and Baghdad to seize the present opportunity to enhance ties in different fields.
“We should use this opportunity and remove the current obstacles in order to see improvement in the level of cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad very soon,” Saeedlou said, recalling Iran and Iraq’s abundant cultural and historical commonalities, Fars News Agency reported.
Pointing to Iran’s progress in industrial, nanotechnology, aerospace and nuclear fields, the vice president said, “These advancements belong to all countries of the world and the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to provide Iraq with modern technologies.”
Al-Nujaifi, for his part, said that there are currently vast potentials for cooperation, which should be utilized to further promote relations between Tehran and Baghdad.
Iran and Iraq have enjoyed growing ties ever since the overthrow of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, in 2003.
Both sides are working on a series of plans to take wide strides in expanding ties, in economic fields in particular.
In July, Iran boosted its power supplies to Iraq and exported 1,139mw of power to its western neighbor.
Continued Aid and Assistance
Saeedlou in a meeting with former Iraqi prime minister and head of the National Alliance, Ibrahim Al-Jafari underlined Tehran’s resolve to continue aid and assistance to Baghdad.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will remain beside the united and integrated Iraq in all stages (of its development),” Saeedlou said.
The vice president reiterated that Tehran is ready to share with Iraq all its know-how about scientific progress and infrastructural development, and said ‘increasing cooperation between Iran and Iraq, specially in economic fields would serve the interests of both nations’.
Iranian government has established a special headquarters headed by Saeedlou to pursue the further expansion of economic ties and cooperation with Iraq.
Saeedlou arrived in the Iraqi capital on Monday and is due to exchange views with senior Iraqi officials on matters of mutual interest and ways to expand mutual ties.
The visit is aimed at exploring ways to expand relations between Iran and Iraq in various fields, particularly the economic sector.
Saeedlou is also expected to visit Arbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, to hold talks with top Kurdish officials.
During his visit, Saeedlou will participate in the first meeting of the Tehran-Arbil economic cooperation.
First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said on Monday that the Islamic Republic of Iran will easily get around US-led sanctions on the country.