The State Department has released a report on what the United States is doing to help people struggling for liberty in some ninety countries. In announcing the report, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that freedom, democracy, and human rights are not just American or Western values:
"These ideals are shared by all people. They are the non-negotiable demands of human dignity…We are working tirelessly to support democracy and human rights in every country where these principles are not completely fulfilled."
In Iran, the report points out, the human rights situation got worse over the past year. Tehran's clerical regime "continued to commit numerous, serious abuses, including summary executions, disappearances, extremist vigilantism, widespread use of torture, and other degrading treatment." Iranian authorities have "suppressed almost all independent domestic media outlets, arresting or effectively silencing their journalists."
The last forum for free debate, internet journals called "weblogs," have come under increasing pressure. The clerical regime arrested several weblog writers and forced them to sign false confessions.
In Iran, religious and ethnic minority groups, such as the Baha'i community, as well as Jews, Christians, and Sunni and Sufi Muslims, are discriminated against and harassed. Workers' rights, including freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively, are severely restricted. In addition, there are continuing reports of the government's stoning women to death in rural Iran.
The United States does not maintain diplomatic relations with the Iranian government. But calling on Tehran's ruling clerics to start respecting the Iranian people's rights is, in the words of the State Department report, "central to the United States overall policy approach."
The report says that "President Bush and senior-level U.S. officials repeatedly expressed their support for the Iranian people in their quest for freedom, democracy and a more transparent and accountable government." The U.S. is also urging its friends and allies to condition improvements in their relations with Iran on "positive changes in Iran's human rights policies and other areas of concern."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.