Almost a year ago, the world was transfixed by the sight of ordinary Iranians flooding the streets of Tehran. In the aftermath of Iran's disputed presidential election last June, they were peacefully insisting that the Iranian government respect their votes and their rights.
Thousands of Iranians have suffered in the government's crackdown on dissent following the election. Students, lawyers, human rights activists, journalists, academics, and ordinary citizens simply seeking the right to express themselves peacefully have been subjected to harassment, beatings, arbitrary arrests, and detentions.
The world also watched the video of a young woman killed in the street. Her face and spirit became the symbol for all those seeking freedom and justice in Iran.
President Barack Obama spoke of what the world witnessed last June: "We've seen the timeless dignity of tens of thousands of Iranians marching in silence. We've seen people of all ages risk everything to insist that their votes are counted and that their voices are heard. Above all, we've seen courageous women stand up to the brutality and threats, and we've experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets."
Over the past year, Iran has chosen to isolate itself; yet it still has the choice to pursue a better future. If the leadership of Iran demonstrates that it is willing to move forward in accepting its responsibilities to uphold the rights of its own people and to meet its international obligations, then Iran can take its rightful place in the community of nations.