The United Nations European headquarters in Geneva has covered up a historic wall carving of a naked man to avoid offending the Iranian government on the eve of nuclear negotiations, the Tribune de Geneve reported today.
"The Creation of Man", a marble carving which features a man reclining in the nude, has reportedly been covered with a curtain to accommodate the modest sensibilities of Iranian delegates.
The move has sparked outrage from a human rights watchdog group, which called on the U.N. to "stop this dangerous kowtowing to Iran’s fundamentalist regime, an ominous sign as negotiations begin."
"Today the U.N. is covering up the artistic heritage of its most famous building, Geneva's historic Palais des Nations, to appease the intolerance of a fundamentalist regime that subjugates women, executes gays, and persecutes Bahais; what will the U.N. hide tomorrow?" said Hillel Neuer, the director of U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based NGO that monitors human rights at the U.N.
Neuer said the censorship of art at the U.N. sets a dangerous precedent.
"Will the U.N., in deference to Iran’s nuclear negotiators, cover up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose principles of religious freedom, political liberty, and equality also offend the Iranian regime?" said Neuer in a statement. "Will the U.N., in deference to Iran’s sensibilities, cover up the name of the adjacent Rene Cassin Square, dedicated to the architect of the Universal Declaration, who famously championed Israel’s right to self-defense during the 1967 Mideast war?"
The U.N. press office in New York said it was not aware of the incident and referred inquiries to the United Nations Office in Geneva. A spokesperson in Geneva did not immediately respond to request for comment.
The United States and Iran are expected to meet for discussions on the sidelines of the P5+1 negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva beginning on Tuesday.