United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has congratulated Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his re-election. Ahmadinejad's victory was highly controversial, and sparked weeks of bloody protests and accusations that Iran's ruling elite had rigged the vote.
Many world leaders refrained from congratulating Ahmadinejad due to the allegations of voting fraud surrounding his victory and the severe violence with which protests by the opposition were repressed, as well as his refusal to negotiate over Iran's nuclear program. Ahmadinejad has also upset world leaders by supporting Middle East terrorism, particularly in Iraq and Gaza, and by denying the Holocaust and threatening to destroy Israel.
A UN spokesperson confirmed that Ban had sent a letter of congratulations to Ahmadinejad. The contents of the letter will not be made public.
Dissident urges UN visit
In a separate development, Iranian dissident human rights activist and Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi urged Ban to visit Iran. The UN chief should tour Iran, speak to the families of victims of political violence, and gain a first-hand understanding of human rights abuses in the country, she said.
Ban has expressed concern over the situation in Iran, where police have used force to suppress political rallies, but so far has decided against sending an envoy to the country to investigate.
Aides to Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad's top challenger in the recent presidential race, said Tuesday that at least 69 people have been confirmed killed at the hands of government forces or pro-government militias. Hundreds more have been detained.
Opposition activists have alleged that many political prisoners are raped or tortured in detention. At least one young woman is alleged to have died as a result of her mistreatment at the hands of government forces.