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Saudi Arabia should account for Mina tragedy: Iran

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Gholam-Hossein Dehqani, Iran’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations (UN)

Iran’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations says Saudi Arabia has been refusing to conduct a responsible, thorough and transparent investigation into a deadly crush during Hajj rituals last year.

Gholam-Hossein Dehqani made the remarks at a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)’s foreign ministers, held in New York on the sidelines of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly. 

The crush came during last year’s Jamarat ritual of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, which sees Muslims throwing stones at representations of the Devil, when two massive rows of pilgrims were directed toward each other from opposite sides.

At least 7,000 people died in the incident, according to Iran, which lost the highest number of pilgrims — 465 — in the incident. The Islamic Republic has blamed Saudi authorities’ mismanagement for the tragedy.

Days into the crush, Saudi Arabia published a death toll of 770 and has refused to update it despite surging fatality figures from individual countries whose nationals had been among the victims of the crush.

Dehqani reminded that the bodies of the victims were disrespected afterwards and left out for hours in sizzling temperatures in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, where the incident happened. He said the families of some of the victims had to wait for months for information on their beloved ones.

Saudi Arabia, he said, had not only withheld an apology to or compensation for the bereaved, but also refused to responsibly disseminate relevant information.

He also pointed to Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen, saying, “Continued military intervention in Yemen and the loss of hopes for peace will eventually play into the hands of extremists and terror groups.”

Saudi Arabia has been hitting Yemen since March 2015. The United Nations says some 10,000 have been killed so far.

Dehqani further urged regional meetings toward the peaceful resolution of differences.

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