Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
February 23, 2011
The United States remains deeply concerned by the persecution of Iranian citizens at the hand of their government. Over the past ten days, we have witnessed the bravery of thousands of Iranians who once again took to the streets to exercise their fundamental rights to peaceful assembly and expression. It has been made clear to the world that Iran denies its citizens the same fundamental rights it continues to applaud elsewhere in the Middle East.
Security forces have beaten, detained, and – in at least three cases – killed peaceful protesters. Off the streets, the regime’s leaders have targeted human rights defenders and political activists, and authorities have recently rounded-up ex-government officials and their families; former members of parliament; clerics and their children; student leaders and their professors; as well as journalists and bloggers. They also continue to deny their citizens access to information by jamming satellite transmissions and blocking internet sites.
Iran’s leaders also continue to persecute ethnic and religious minorities. We are troubled by reports that, of the dozens of prisoners executed in 2011, most are ethnic minorities. At the same time, Baha’is and other religious minorities continue to be subjected to arbitrary arrests and prosecutions, harsh sentences, and unsafe prison conditions. We call on Iran to free all political prisoners and persecuted minorities.
The steady deterioration in human rights conditions in Iran has obliged the international community to speak out time and again. Today, the United States sanctions two Iranian officials – in addition to the eight sanctioned by the President last fall – for perpetrating these abuses. The world will continue to watch and will hold accountable those responsible for these actions. The United States joins the international community in affirming the universal rights to which all men and women – in Iran and around the world – are entitled.