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In Iran, the government continues its brutal repression of the Iranian people.
On the sacred feast of Ashura on December 27, at least 8 people were killed and hundreds more arrested when Iranians across the country joined anti-government protests and were met once again with violence by Iran's security forces. The government's response was the bloodiest since June's disputed presidential election.
In the days following the Ashura protests, Iran's Interior Minister announced that the demonstrators risk execution as enemies of God; officials arrested relatives of the country's Nobel Laureate and the main opposition leader; a pro-government website posted pictures of demonstrators and a plea to informants to identify them; and security forces arrested at least 6 more Iranian journalists.
At a news conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States is "deeply disturbed by the mounting signs of ruthless repression" by the government in Iran:
"We want to reiterate that we stand with those Iranians who are peacefully demonstrating. We mourn the loss of innocent life. We condemn the detention and imprisonment, the torture and abuse of people, which seems to be accelerating."
Secretary of State Clinton also spoke of Iran's continuing refusal to engage diplomatically on the issue of its nuclear program. In the absence of a positive response by Tehran to a proposal by the International Atomic Energy Agency involving its stockpile of enriched uranium and a Tehran research reactor, Secretary of State Clinton said the United States and other nations were starting deliberations on increasing pressure on the Iranian government:
"We want to keep the door to dialogue open. But we've also made it clear we can't continue to wait. ... So we have already begun discussions with our partners and with likeminded nations about pressure and sanctions."
"We hope that there will be an opportunity for Iran to reverse course, to begin engaging in a positive way with the international community, respecting the rights of their own citizens," said Secretary of State Clinton. "But we're going to continue on our dual-track approach."