Member states of the Non-Aligned Movement including Zimbabwe which are meeting in the Iranian capital of Tehran to discuss “human rights and cultural diversity” said the West has "deliberately violated" human rights agreements for political reasons.
Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi was one of 56 foreign ministers attending among 100 delegates out of 115 Non-Aligned member states.
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, the conference host, said human rights have been subordinated to anti-terrorism efforts. "They have established secret prisons and are kidnapping anyone they want at airports without any legal jurisdiction," the Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Mr. Ahmadinejad as saying. "Human rights and liberties are still being violated by bullying powers in many parts of the world," he said.
"Millions of people are still deprived of food, health, sanitation, housing, and proper education," the Iranian president said. "Economic powers are still taking advantage of their economic capabilities to impose their domination over others.
In Harare, the government-controlled Herald newspaper quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Charity Nzenza as saying the conference aimed to "deepen the Non-Aligned Movement's focus on issues pertaining to the protection of human rights.” Nzenza said Non-Aligned member states believe human rights instruments are being “deliberately violated by Western powers in pursuance of their political goals."
But Zimbabwe's Human Rights NGO Forum, a nongovernmental organization, took issue with that assertion. Its latest report said that in the past six years some 25,000 cases of human rights violations have been reported, adding that Zimbabwean state agents were implicated in the worst violations against government critics.
Human Rights NGO Forum Coordinator and International Liaison Officer Tor Olsen in London told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the Zimbabwean government is simply trying to divert attention from its own abuses.
More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...