28 December 2009 Iranian Demonstrators Have Admiration of the World, Obama Says, December 28, 2009
By Stephen Kaufman
Washington — President Obama says the Iranian government has an international obligation to respect the rights of its people, and he joined the international community in strongly condemning the “violent and unjust suppression” of demonstrators who have been voicing opposition to their government since the country’s disputed June 12 presidential election.
Speaking December 28 in Kaneohe, Hawaii, where he and his family are vacationing, the president said the United States and other free nations around the world stand with individuals who seek their universal rights.
“What’s taking place within Iran is not about the United States or any other country; it’s about the Iranian people, and their aspirations for justice and a better life for themselves,” Obama said, adding that the decision by Iran’s leaders to govern “through fear and tyranny” will not make the aspirations of their people go away.
“I’m confident that history will be on the side of those who seek justice,” the president said. He repeated some of his December 10 remarks to the Nobel Prize committee in Oslo, Norway, that “it’s telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.”
The demonstrations have been ongoing since incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected in June despite opposition charges of fraud. Violence increased December 27, which coincided with the Shiite Muslim holy day of Ashura. According to news reports, many demonstrators have been detained or injured, and some were killed by Iranian security forces.
“For months, the Iranian people have sought nothing more than to exercise their universal rights. Each time they have done so, they have been met with the iron fist of brutality, even on solemn occasions and holy days,” President Obama said.
“Each time that has happened, the world has watched with deep admiration for the courage and the conviction of the Iranian people, who are part of Iran’s great and enduring civilization,” he said.
The president also called for “the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained,” and said the United States and other countries will “continue to bear witness to the extraordinary events” taking place in Iran.
At the State Department, spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters December 28 that the United States remains willing to peacefully engage with Iran’s rulers in an effort to “try and allay our concerns about the peaceful nature of their nuclear program.”
However, he expressed concern over the violence being perpetrated against Iranians who are trying to exercise their “peaceful democratic right to self-expression,” and said that along with engagement with the Iranian government, the Obama administration will also continue to “speak out in support of those who are out there trying to exercise their democratic rights.”