Reports of harsh prison sentences for Iranian journalists and civil society activists keep pouring out of Iran, as the government continues its attempt to silence dissenting voices. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the repressive actions by the Iranian regime "obviously contradict recent claims made at the United Nations that Iranians enjoy the right of free expression and no one is imprisoned for political reasons:"
"The mounting evidence of repression against anyone who questions Iranian government decisions or advocates for transparency, or even attempt to defend political prisoners, is very troubling."
Among the Iranians who have lately received exorbitant prison terms for their peaceful dissent is student leader Majid Tavakoli, whose eight and a half year sentence was confirmed in September and prominent journalist and free press advocate Isa Saharkhiz, sentenced 3 years on charges of insulting the Supreme Leader and spreading propaganda against the regime. Emadeddin Baghi, a writer and human rights activist, was given a 6 year prison term in September. Canadian-Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan was sentenced to 19 years in prison after having already spent 2 years in detention. These are but a few examples of the steady deterioration of human rights in Iran.
Secretary Clinton, citing the arbitrary arrests, beatings, torture, rape and murder of Iranian citizens since the disputed presidential election in June 2009, announced that President Barack Obama has signed an executive order imposing financial sanctions on 8 Iranian officials complicit in these abuses:
"In doing so today, we declare our solidarity with their victims and with all Iranians who wish for a government that respects their human rights and their dignity and their freedom. By doing so we convey our strong support for the rule of law, and we speak out for those unable to speak for themselves because they are jailed or frightened or fear retribution against themselves or their families."
Secretary of State Clinton echoed President Obama's clear message, stating that the U.S. "will call out those who suppress ideas ... and ... will hold abusive governments and individuals accountable for their actions."