U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner recently introduced the U.S. State Department's annual human rights report. Among the countries he singled in his remarks was Iran:
"[In] Iran, an already poor human rights situation rapidly deteriorated after the June elections. At least 45 people were killed in clashes, thousands were arrested; another thousand were arrested in demonstrations in December. It is a place where we are continuing to see severe repression of dissent and are continuing to pay great attention."
The State Department report names many of the young Iranians who were victims of the regime's violence after the presidential election: among them, Neda Agha-Soltan, who became the tragic symbol of Iran's resistance, shot to death on the street in Tehran during peaceful protests; Ashkan Sohrabi, another peaceful demonstrator shot and killed the same day; Taraneh Mousavi, whose parents were told to collect her burned and brutalized body 2 weeks after her arrest by Basij forces on June 28; university students Mohammad Kamrani, Mohsen Rouholamini and Amir Javadifar, who were beaten to death in Kahrizak prison.
The report also detailed an intensified and systematic government crackdown "against women's rights reformers, ethnic minority rights activists, student rights activists and religious minorities." It said that the Iranian authorities "severely restricted the right to privacy and civil liberties, including freedoms of speech and the press, assembly association and movement, [and] placed severe restrictions on freedom of religion." The report noted the lack of judicial independence, fair trials, and "numerous credible reports that security forces and prison personnel tortured detainees and prisoners, especially those arrested after the June election. In Tehran alone, 37 detained protesters, male and female, claimed prison or security officials had raped them."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that all people should be able to "enjoy the consistent protection of the rights that are naturally theirs, whether they were born in Tallahassee or Tehran."
To those struggling to turn rights into reality, in Iran and elsewhere, Secretary Clinton quoted President Barack Obama: "They have us on their side."