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7/15/04 - BUSH ON IRANIAN YOUTH - 2004-07-09

The U.S. supports the democratic aspirations of Iranians, especially Iran’s young people. In Istanbul recently, President George W. Bush said that democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq would be powerful examples to other nations, including Iran:

“There are people inside of Iran who are watching what's happening -- young, vibrant, professional people who want to be free. And they're wondering whether or not they'll have the opportunity.”

In a speech to students at Istanbul's Galatasary University, Mr. Bush said that the youth of Iran are engaged, like many others around the world, in a struggle against tyranny and for a representative government:

“We see the struggle in Iran, where tired, discredited autocrats are trying to hold back the democratic will of a rising generation.”

This month brings the fifth anniversary of the July 9th, 1999, student uprising in Iran. That uprising began with a demonstration in Tehran after the closing of a reformist newspaper. Student demonstrators were beaten and arrested, and several were killed by Iranian security forces. Days of protests followed, involving thousands of Iranians across the country. The protests were brutally suppressed by the Iranian government.

Since 1999, June and July have been tense months in Iran, as students and others have tried to mark the anniversary of the uprising, and the government has attempted to stifle them. In June 2003, four-thousand people were arrested, and the government banned any commemoration of the 1999 uprising. Iranian authorities announced a similar ban this year.

Despite such efforts at repression, the Iranian people continue to demand their freedom from Islamic fundamentalist rule. “The rule of free peoples will come to the Middle East,” says President Bush. And Americans “will do all in our power to help them find the blessings of liberty.”