The U.S. State Department has published its latest report on human rights. Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, spoke of the seriousness of this issue for the United States:
"Promoting human rights is not just an element of our foreign policy; it is the bedrock of our policy and our foremost concern. These reports put dictators and corrupt officials on notice that they are being watched by the civilized world and that there are consequences for their actions."
Ms. Dobriansky said in the Middle East, "people are increasingly conscious of the freedom deficit in the region and eager to taste the freedom and liberties that are being enjoyed elsewhere":
"If freedom and democracy work in Muslim nations like Indonesia, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iraq, why should they not be the norm in Iran, Libya, Syria and Saudi Arabia?"
The State Department's report on Iran says that over the past year, the Iranian government's "poor human rights record worsened, and it continued to commit numerous serious abuses." Those abuses include summary executions, disappearances, torture, and severe punishments such as flogging and amputations. Iranian citizens are denied due process of law and fair trials; they are not permitted to change their government; and the clerical regime restricts their freedom of speech, press, assembly and religion.
Michael Kozak is U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. He said that the government in Iran is "out of phase" with the changes occurring elsewhere, particularly in the Middle East:
"When you look at what's happening in Iraq, where you've just had elections there, when you look at the Palestinian territories where you've just had free elections there, where you have [Egyptian] President [Hosni] Mubarak at least talking about having free elections, and what's gone on in Iran is very much the opposite, where the space for people that didn't agree with the ruling clique has been reduced, and I think that's covered in the report that people weren't able to run for election and so on."
"Iran has a real problem if it wants to become a respected member of the family of nations," said Mr. Kozak. "It's not been doing the things that get you there."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.