Delegates of the U.N. Human Rights Council opened a meeting in Geneva on Monday by standing silently with heads bowed, after the delegation of Venezuela’s leftist government requested a minute’s silence to “honor” the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Not everyone in the chamber took part. U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer described the honoring of “human rights abuser Fidel Castro” as “despicable” and said that his non-governmental organization “stayed seated.”

In an official U.N. webcast, a member of the Israeli delegation, seated behind Venezuela’s representatives, can be seen walking out as Venezuelan ambassador Jorge Valero asked members to honor Castro.

The United States is not currently a member of the HRC – it will return next year after a mandatory one-year break – but U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper tweeted that the HRC “should not be honoring gross and systematic #Humanrights violators with moments of silence.”

Spokesmen for the HRC Secretariat and for U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein did not respond by press time to queries about the appropriateness of the minute’s silence for the leader of a communist regime with a grim human rights record.

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