Speakers at the Third World Conference on Human Rights last night criticized the United States for denying civil rights to its minority citizens and for infringing on the rights of citizens in other countries as well.
The worse transgressors against human rights in Africa are from other countries, Leslie A. Harriman, permanent representative to the United Nations' Nigerian mission said to an audience of approximately 200 in Gund Hall.
"Our concern and support for Palestinian, Chilean, and African human rights is no less than our concern and support for the black man in the United States," Mohammed Abdul-Assiz, third secretary to the Libyan mission, said last night.
Outside the lecture hall, members of the Harvard Jewish Law Students Association (HJLSA) protested Abdul-Assiz' designated status as "guest of honor" at the conference because of what they called Libyan violations of political and civil rights.
Nearby the Harvard Muslim Students Association distributed a statement challenging the HJLSA charges
Barry Saltzman, president of the HJLSA, said yesterday the group did not intend to interfere with the conference in any way but wished to present an answer to what the group believed was a political statement by the organizers of the conference.
Kevin Fong, an organizer of the conference and member of the Harvard Asian Law Students Association, said, "We tried to bring in domestic minorities and international third world representatives to participate in the conference. We never intended to set up an Arab-Israeli debate nor to take sides on the issue."
A.J. Cooper, the founder of the Harvard Black Students Association and current mayor of Pritchard, Alabama, said he received a letter from Alan M. Dershowitz, professor of law, yesterday, "deploring the decision of the conference committee to honor Abdul-Assiz."
"If the Russians can be feted at the White House and the Chinese can eat dinner with the President, certainly a simple country lawyer like me shouldn't have to be concerned whether or not a distinguished young man from Libya can be the guest of a distinguished group of Harvard people," Cooper said.