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United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently released a report to the UN General Assembly on human rights in Iran. Although Mr. Ban noted improvements over the past year in the areas of education and health care, he expressed concern over a broad range of Iranian human rights abuses. Mr. Ban cited the lack of due process and fair trials, a surge in executions, and cases of stoning, amputations, and flogging.

Mr. Ban also noted problems with freedom of opinion and expression. The Iranian government, he reported, is engaged in a crackdown on print media, weblogs, and websites, and prosecutes "opinion-related offenses," resulting in the arrest and imprisonment of journalists, and officially encouraged self-censorship. Mr. Ban also raised the lack of religious freedom in Iran, unequal gender laws that have a negative impact on women, the repression of women's rights defenders, and the persecution of ethnic minority rights advocates.

The suffering of the Iranian people because of the regime's lack of respect for human rights deserves recognition. As President George Bush says, those who suffer for liberty have a claim that should not be ignored. In a recent press briefing, U.S. State Department Deputy spokesman Robert Wood spoke out on behalf of human rights defenders in Iran. The U.S., he said, "stand[s] with the all those in Iran who are working for universal human rights and justice in their country."

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