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After Iran's disputed
presidential election on June 12th, Iranians took to the streets in peaceful
protest. Their efforts to express their views were met with violence by Iranian
security forces using tear gas, bludgeons, and in several instances, bullets.
In a news conference in Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama said that "the United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments of the last few days":
"I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost."
Mr. Obama said that despite the Iranian government's efforts to shut down independent media in the country, "powerful images and poignant words" have emerged through cell phones and computers:
"We've seen the timeless dignity of tens of thousands of Iranians marching in silence. We've seen people of all ages risk everything to insist that their votes are counted and their voices are heard. Above all we've seen courageous women stand up to brutality and threats, and we have experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets."
President Obama emphasized that the United States respects Iran's sovereignty, and is not meddling in Iran's affairs. But he said it is imperative to "bear witness to the courage and dignity of the Iranian people:"
"The Iranian people have a universal right to assembly and free speech. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect those rights, and heed the will of its own people. It must govern through consent, and not coercion."
"That is what Iran's own people are calling for," said President Obama, "and the Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government."