UNITED NATIONS — The UN General Assembly on Monday passed an annual resolution condemning human rights abuses in Iran with a record number of votes in support.
The assembly also passed resolutions condemning human rights in North Korea and Myanmar. All received record high backing.
The Iran vote came only three days after the General Assembly condemned an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington -- a plot which the United States accuses Iran of masterminding.
The 193-member assembly passed the resolution condemning "torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" by Iranian authorities with 86 votes in favor, six more than last year, 32 against, down eight from 2010, and 59 abstentions.
The resolution, proposed by Canada, condemned "flogging and amputations" carried out in Iran and deplored a "dramatic increase" in the use of the death penalty, particularly against minors. Many human rights groups say events have deteriorated in Iran over the past year.
Iranian government representative, Mohammad Javad Larijani, an advisor to the country's supreme leader, called the resolution "substantially unfounded and intentionally malicious" in a speech to the General Assembly's human rights committee.
Syria, which faces a special human rights vote on Tuesday over its deadly crackdown on opposition protests, spoke out strongly for its Iranian ally.
The North Korea vote was passed with 112 votes in favor, 16 against and 55 abstentions. On Myanmar the vote was 98 in favor, 25 against with 63 abstentions.
The assembly raised "very serious concern" over the "torture" and "inhuman conditions of detention, public executions, extra judicial and arbitrary detention" in North Korea.
It also condemned the "existence of a large number of prison camps and the extensive use of forced labor."
The Myanmar resolution welcomed recent talks between democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the military-dominated government, the release of some political prisoners and other changes over the past year.
But the General Assembly said there were still "systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms."
It highlighted "arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." It also raised concerns about the treatment of ethnic minorities such as the Karen people.
Western nations, which have sanctions against Myanmar, have sought to encourage the tentative reforms started by the government. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is to hold talks in Myanmar next month.
Myanmar's UN ambassador U Than Swe highlighted the government's efforts towards "building a flourishing, democratic society."
"We do deserve warm, welcome, kind understanding and sincere encouragements of the international community rather than unconstructive approach by adopting such resolutions," he told the assembly.
In a statement, Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague acknowledged the changes in Myanmar, but said "human rights abuses continue, especially in ethnic areas, and the level of support for this resolution shows once again that the international community has not forgotten the people" of Myanmar.
"The UN General Assembly passed these three resolutions by a record majority today, and I welcome the strong signal that sends," Hague said.
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Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere
Give peace a chance.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others
Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor. Ginetta Sagan
An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind
We must reject the false comfort that other’s suffering is not our problem
Only when the last prisoner of conscience has been freed, when the last torture chamber has been closed, when the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reality for the world's people, will our work be done