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UN Gen. Assembly's Key Panel Condemns Right Abuses In Iran, N. Korea, Syria

The U.N. General Assembly's Third Committee, which concentrates on human rights, on Tuesday passed three important resolutions condemning human rights abuses in Iran, North Korea and Syria.

On Iran, the General Assembly expressed deep concern at recurring human rights violations, including torture and such cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments as flogging, amputations and arbitrary executions.

Lawyers, journalists, Internet providers, bloggers and netizens face harassment, intimidation and arbitrary detention in Iran, which also continues to violently suppress women and minority groups. The General Assembly called upon the Iranian government to cooperate fully with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights.

The anti-Iran resolution, sponsored by Western nations, received the support of 83 countries, opposition from 31, and 68 abstentions.

For the first time ever, the General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution condemning the atrocious state of human rights in North Korea.

Surprisingly, even their close ally China did not vote against the resolution, which expresses serious concern about "persistent reports of systematic, widespread and grave violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights" in the Communist nation. It mentions torture, the absence of due process, restrictions of movement, mistreatment of refugees and asylum-seekers and pervasive and severe restrictions on the freedom of thought.

On Syria, the world body strongly condemned the continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights by Syrian authorities and the government-controlled "shabbiha" militia, including the use of heavy weapons and aerial bombardments. The resolution condemns the massacres, arbitrary executions, extra-judicial killings, torture, sexual violence, ill-treatment against children, and the killing and persecution of protesters, human rights defenders and journalists.

Importantly, Tuesday's resolution urges Syrian authorities to release immediately all persons arbitrarily detained, including the members of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, which works to promote freedom of opinion and expression in Syria and throughout the Arab world, and is the only Syrian NGO accredited to the U.N.

As many as 132 nations supported the motion, a dozen opposed it, while 35 abstained.

All the resolutions passed by the General Assembly's Third Committee are non-binding, and subject to a formal vote in the General Assembly next month.

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