Friday, December 11, 2009

Official: U.S. Will Not Ignore Iran Protests

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Cable News Network (CNN)

The United States will not sit silently by and ignore what happens on the streets of Tehran, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary for Iran at the State Department said Thursday. John Limbert, who was among diplomats held hostage by radical students at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran 30 years ago, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour, "We believe as we have always believed that the Iranian people deserve decent treatment from their government." His comments came on the same day that U.S. President Barack Obama, during a lecture in Oslo, Norway, after he received his Nobel Peace Prize, declared the world is bearing witness to the struggle for rights and justice in countries such as Iran. The president, in a departure from his prepared remarks, said, "These movements of hope and history, they have us on their side." He used the word "us," while the text of his speech said, "hope and history are on their side." Obama's Nobel address came in the same week that tens of thousands of Iranian students took part in the biggest anti-government demonstrations in months, in a new indication that the protest movement remains defiant.

Limbert said he found it remarkable that the young people of Iran are willing to come back to the streets again and again. "Iranians have been seeking a voice in their own affairs and decent treatment from their government now for well over 100 years," he said. "Most of that 100 years, I would add, has been a history of frustration and defeat." Iranian artist Shirin Neshat, who won the Silver Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival for her film, "Women Without Men" and is now a voice of protest outside Iran, expressed strong disappointment that the U.S. is not criticizing Iran in stronger terms. "I feel that the students in Iran, the people of Iran, and the people of Iran outside of Iran are setting a great example of people who are truly fighting for democracy," she told Amanpour. "And this creates a sense of hope for the rest of the region, the entire world. But we don't feel that we have the sufficient support or the protection that is necessary." (Read more...)