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U.N. kicks out three groups from racism conference

world Updated: Apr 23, 2009 21:40 IST

The United Nations has expelled three activist groups for "unacceptable disruptive behaviour" at its Geneva conference on racism, including noisy protests during a Monday appearance by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

U.N. spokesman Rupert Colville said on Thursday that the three groups - the French Union of Jewish Students, the Neda Institute for Political and Scientific Research, and COEXIST, were no longer able to participate in the Geneva conference that ends on Friday.

Those groups had registered a combined total of 229 people to take part in the Geneva meeting, though only 64 of those had actually picked up their badges, Colville said, explaining the action by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

"The High Commissioner does not exclude the possibility of taking similar actions against any other NGO found to behave in a manner clearly violating the rules and regulations relating to behaviour inside U.N. premises," he told a news conference.

Colville said members of the French Union of Jewish Students had launched "clearly orchestrated efforts" to disrupt the U.N. conference along with COEXIST. Activists with the Iran-based Neda Institute had sought to distribute "inciteful materials" on the sidelines of the meeting, he said.

Earlier in the week, U.N. security staff removed the badges of 44 non-governmental participants, including some from the three barred groups as well as members of the European Union of Jewish Students, the Women's Association of Followers of Ahlul Baitii, and B'nai Brith.

Activists observing Monday's opening-day plenary responded noisily when Ahmadinejad took the floor and denounced Israel as a racist state. Those remarks caused dozens of delegates to walk out, further tainting the conference which the United States, Israel, and seven other countries are boycotting.

Protesters holding up signs and wearing red clown noses also clogged the hallway outside the assembly hall and the conference room where the Iranian president later addressed the press.