When the Iranian people determined last year that their government had denied them their right to free and fair elections, thousands of Iranian citizens poured into the streets to protest peacefully. The Iranian authorities responded to their citizens’ call for accountability and transparency with violence, arbitrary detentions, dubious trials, and intimidation. One year later, many political prisoners continue to suffer in jail, some facing death sentences for expressing their opinions. Other civil society activists in Iran are not in prison, but they face other forms of persecution. Over the past year, many of Iran’s most accomplished journalists, academics, and activists felt they had no choice but to leave their homeland.
The Iranian government’s denial of the fundamental freedoms and rights accorded to its citizens in the Iranian constitution and international treaties to which Iran is a party has drawn broad international condemnation. As President Obama said when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to stand with peaceful reform movements seeking the rights that are our common birthright.
The United States once again calls on the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran to meet their obligations to their own people and to the international community by respecting the rights and dignity of their citizens and by fully upholding Iran’s international obligations. We also call for the immediate release of all imprisoned human rights defenders, including Shiva Nazar Ahari, Narges Mohammadi, Emad Baghi, Kouhyar Goudarzi, Bahareh Hedayat, Milad Asadi, and Mahboubeh Karami. We ask the Iranian authorities to release the three American hikers, detained without charge for almost a year, and to provide information on the status of Mr. Robert Levinson, who disappeared in Iran in 2007.
The United States reaffirms its commitment to engage with Iran on all issues in pursuit of a negotiated diplomatic resolution, on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interests. But we also will continue to speak out in defense of basic human liberties and in support of those around the world who seek to exercise their universal rights.