Each year that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comes to the United Nations he faces protest demonstrations and speeches of denunciation from elected officials. This year was no exception.
At a press conference Monday in the shadow of the UN, Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens) observed the crime scene tape that police had used to keep back spectators.
“That crime scene tape should be around the UN when Ahmadinejad speaks,” Crowley said. “He is not a legitimate world leader and should be arrested for torturing activists … and his constant threats against our ally Israel.”
The press conference, organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, was also used to announce that more than 15,000 people had signed an online petition calling on the Iranian government to “do a 180” and immediately stop its development of nuclear weapons and its disregard of human rights.
Gov. David Paterson attacked Ahmadinejad for continuing to “spew incendiary remarks of racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism, striking fear around the world.”
“He’s here this week to get more attention for himself,” Paterson said. “He loves to hear his name mentioned, so I’m not going to mention his name. Suffice to say that the government of Iran is now seeking the opportunity to have weapons of mass destruction, and this would be the worst possible thing that could happen right now. It would threaten people’s security from the U.S. to Israel, from Syria to Saudi Arabia.”
But the governor pointed out that there is “another Iran that wants to have free and open elections, and we demand that the other Iran be heard. There is another Iran of young people who are educated and open-minded. But their voices are silent. They rightly fear taking to the streets in protest because of the violent brutality we’ve seen on TV by the government against anyone who speaks out against the government.”
Earlier in the day, American hiker Sarah Shourd arrived in New York after being freed by Iran as a “humanitarian gesture” following 14 months of captivity.
“We demand that Iran return the other two [other] hikers who inadvertently wandered into Iran and are being held in Iran today,” Paterson said.
Alan Jaffe, president of the JCRC, pointed out that “hundreds of political prisoners languish in Iranian prisons” today — many arrested to protest what they claimed was Ahmadinejad’s fraudulent re-election last year.
“Iran leads the world in child executions each year, Iranian women are systematically oppressed, and President Ahmadinejad is still welcome at the United Nations,” Jaffe said. “Iran continues its aggressive nuclear enrichment efforts … [it] is the world’s leading supporter and financier of international terror and President Ahmadinejad is still welcome at the United Nations. …”
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens and L.I.) called Ahmadinejad a “tyrant and a thug who will once again use his visit to the United Nations to spew his anti-Semitic rhetoric and disgraceful propaganda. … His murderous, terror-supporting regime, which continues to arm Hezbollah and Hamas, and his out-of-control nuclear ambitions, are the greatest danger to Israel and the biggest threat to peace and security in the world.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she was supporting new legislation that would impose even tougher regulations against companies that do business with Iran “to ensure this regime feels the full brunt of the sanctions enacted against it by the world community.”
She pointed out that by continuing to develop a nuclear weapon, Iran was in “open defiance of the U.N. Security Council” and that it poses “an existential threat to the entire international community. …”
A group of 25 rabbis and 10 Christian clergy held a protest in front of the UN Tuesday under the auspices of the New York Board of Rabbis. They said they objected to the UN giving Ahmadinejad a platform to speak. Meanwhile, the JCRC of Greater Washington sent a letter of protest to the owners of the Hilton Manhattan East for allowing Ahmadinejad and his delegation to stay there during his visit here.
The letter said the hotel’s decision “brings shame on the Hilton brand” and its owner, the Procaccianti Group. It also questioned why Hilton was “ignoring the international consensus to isolate the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, who defies international law and brutally represses the people of Iran.”