Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, outside the United Nations during the General Assembly on September 25, 2012. Azikiwe covered a demonstration against the use of drones and threats of war against Iran. (Photo: Johnnie Stevens), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
United Nations General Assembly Holds 67th Session Amid Threats Against Iran
Demonstrations and gathering take place surrounding official proceedings
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Beginning on September 25, the United Nations General Assembly convened its 67th Session in New York City. The gathering is always opened with a series of speeches delivered by various heads of state and governmental officials from the 193 member countries.
This year’s session was marked by an escalation of tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Also concerns surrounding the use of drone warfare and the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan were the theme of a demonstration which took place outside the U.N. on the opening day.
The demonstration was called by Pakistan USA Freedom Forum and featured speakers from various anti-war and solidarity organizations including the International Action Center, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice and Solidarity Iran. Activists sought to bring attention to the thousands of people who have died in Central Asia, the Middle East and the African continent from the use of predator drones.
Although the U.N., which was formed in the aftermath of the conclusion of World War II, is ostensibly designed to resolve conflicts and prevent wars as well as foster humanitarian work and economic development throughout the world, the global body is heavily dominated by the Western imperialist states of North America and Western Europe. On numerous occasions throughout history the U.N., and with specific reference to the permanent members of the Security Council, the institution has been utilized to justify wars of aggression and other measures that have brought about the deaths, injuries and displacement of millions.
Sanctions against Iraq and the failure to prevent both the 1991 and 2003 invasions led by the U.S., is a clear example of the role the U.N. has often played in modern times. Just last year, the Security Council approved the imposition of a “no-fly zone” (resolution 1973) which provided a pseudo-legal basis for the massive bombing of Libya, the overthrow of its government and the brutal assassination of its leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, and members of his family.
President Robert Mugabe in his speech before the General Assembly on September 26 condemned the war of regime change against Libya during 2011 and stated that the situation inside the country had worsened since the toppling and killing of Gaddafi last year. Mugabe noted with irony the tribute paid to Ambassador Christopher Stevens by President Barack Obama in an earlier address before the gathering.
Mugabe said of Stevens’ demise that “It was a tragic death and we condemn it. But, Mr. President, about a year ago we saw the barbaric and brutal death of the head of state of Libya, a representative of his country and a member of the African Union.” (Zimbabwe Sunday Mail, September 30)
He continued saying “As we join the United States in condemning that death, shall the United States also join us in condemning the barbaric death of Gaddafi. It was a loss, great loss to Africa.”
The Zimbabwe Mission to the United Nations filed a complaint with the secretary general in regard to what it described as ongoing harassment by the U.S. Visas for journalists are often denied without cause and officials of the government are treated discourteously by immigration officials.
Iranian President Meets With Religious Leaders, Activists Amid Growing Hostility
Meanwhile on September 25, an important dinner meeting took place at the Warwick Hotel in midtown Manhattan. The U.N. Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran invited over 100 religious leaders, scholars, journalists and social justice activists for a dialogue with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Some of the most notable guests included former U.S. Attorney Ramsey Clark, a co-founder of the International Action Center, Min. Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, Imari Baraka, renowned poet and longtime activist, Glen Ford, editor of Black Agenda Report, Phil Wilayto, organizer for the Virginia Defenders, Nellie Bailey of the Harlem Tenants Council, Sara Flounders , co-director of the International Action Center, Leah Bolger, leader of Veterans for Peace, Joe Iosbaker, trade unionists and solidarity activists, Sara Martin, a leader of Women Against Military Madness, Joe Lumbardo, administrative committee member of the United National Anti-War Coalition, Col. Ann Wright (Ret.), author of Voices of Consciene, Ray McGovern, former Central Intelligence Agency analyst, among others.
A panel discussion featuring several guests went on for more than an hour. Other speakers were invited from the floor to speak including Jonathan Lee of the Hartford Seminary who discussed the school’s role in inter-religious study. Also Atty. Stanley Cohen, a Jewish-American, spoke on the need to oppose the threats against Iran.
Despite the warm reception for President Ahmadinejad, who spoke for nearly 50 minutes at the conclusion of the other presentations, the corporate media in New York worked to create a hostile environment for the Iranian delegation to the General Assembly. The Metro New York ran a Reuters news brief which falsely claimed that Ahmadinejad had a history of inflammatory rhetoric at the U.N.
AM New York featured a story on the same day as the president’s meeting with U.S. guests which only reported on a demonstration taking place by Iranian opposition groups outside the Warwick Hotel. A picture of a caricature of Ahmadinejad held by protesters was attached to the article.
There were other reports of an assault against members of the Iranian delegation to the U.N. outside the Warwick Hotel by members of a previously listed “terrorist” group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO). The group has engaged in an armed campaign against the government in Tehran. New York City police did not make any arrests in the alleged incident.
The MKO has been taken off the “terrorist” list by the Obama administration. The administration has repeatedly accused Iran of attempts to create a nuclear weapon while the government says officially that its use of such technology is for peaceful scientific purposes.
Information distributed to all guests at the Warwick Hotel dinner with President Ahmadinejad stated that “The Islamic Republic of Iran is a State party to all major international legally-binding instruments prohibiting weapons of mass destruction, namely the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention—BWC), and Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention—CWC) (Iran and WMD: Some Facts)
Over the last several years numerous Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated. The State of Israel has threatened in the past to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities in addition to the U.S.
Press TV Correspondent in Syria Assassinated
On September 26, the Press TV news correspondent for Syria was assassinated by sniper fire while covering two truck bombings in the capital of Damascus. Maya Naser, 33, was gunned down while making a live report to the international satellite television network that is viewed by millions every day.
Press TV, which originates from Tehran, has exposed the character of the U.S. imperialist backed and financed war against Syria where tens of thousands have died since February 2011. Over 30 journalists have been killed in Syria since last year, most of whom are Syrian nationals.
This satellite news channel represents one of the few major media outlets that provide information about the Syrian war outside the confines of what is generally advanced through the western-allied corporate and governmental press agencies.