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Iranian Ambassador To Harare Raps West, Defends Zimbabwe On Rights

The Iranian ambassador to to Zimbabwe this week accused Western nations of using a double standard on human rights in criticizing Zimbabwe and his own country while failing to acknowledge their own shortcomings on human rights issues.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper quoted Ambassador Rasoul Momeni as saying that “the violation of civil and political rights by the government of the United States of suspects in the so called 'war on terror' cannot be equated with the human rights violations by a small government within a limited territory.”

He said nations that are "instrumental" or which exert greater influence in the process of globalization "should be more accountable to the international community."

The ambassadors comments were contained in a speech read Monday by his deputy, Abbas Navazani, on International Human Rights Day, the Herald reported.

President Robert Mugabe came under criticism for his human rights record Saturday in Lisbon at the European Union-African Union summit, most prominently by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said his government "trampled" on human rights.

Commenting on the Iranian envoy's speech, Irene Petras of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that whatever rights violations may be attributed to other nations, the government of Zimbabwe remains responsible for its own policies and actions in this respect.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met privately this week with representatives of domestic human rights organizations objecting to what they said were human rights violations in the fight against terrorism, including the continued detention of some 300 suspected terrorists without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The meeting on Monday followed a ceremony in which Rice honored human rights defenders.

Amnesty International USA Executive Director Larry Cox issued a statement saying the group "pressured Rice to do more to help restore full democracy in Pakistan and to end violence against civilians in Sudan's Darfur region."

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...