AFP: US President Barack Obama on Sunday denounced the Iranian government’s “campaign of intimidation and abuse” of regime opponents as he told the country’s young people, “I am with you.”
RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) — US President Barack Obama on Sunday denounced the Iranian government’s “campaign of intimidation and abuse” of regime opponents as he told the country’s young people, “I am with you.”
In a message marking Nowruz, the Persian new year, Obama said in a statement, “I believe that there are certain values that are universal — the freedom of peaceful assembly and association; the ability to speak your mind and choose your leaders.”
Obama’s statement, issued by the White House with the president traveling in Brazil, said that the Iranian government has responded to protests “by demonstrating that it cares far more about preserving its own power than respecting the rights of the Iranian people.”
“For nearly two years, there has been a campaign of intimidation and abuse. Young and old; men and women; rich and poor — the Iranian people have been persecuted… The world has watched these unjust actions with alarm.”
Obama’s comments came amid a wave of uprisings in the Arab world and Middle East seeking to oust authoritarian regimes, and he equated the Azadi Square protests in Iran in 2009 to the Tahrir Square events this year in Egypt.
He said that “this is a season of hope and renewal,” and added that “we know that this is also a season of promise across the Middle East and North Africa, even as there are also enormous challenges.”
The US leader said that Iran’s harsh response to dissidents and protests “do not demonstrate strength, they show fear.”
“For it is telling when a government is so afraid of its own citizens that it won’t even allow them the freedom to access information or to communicate with each other,” he added.
“But the future of Iran will not be shaped by fear. The future of Iran belongs to the young people — the youth who will determine their own destiny… And though times may seem dark, I want you to know that I am with you.”