Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Iran sanctions: BHO administration says the right thing but...

THIS just in over the BBC:

US President Barack Obama has ordered for the first time sanctions against senior Iranian officials for "sustained and severe violations of human rights".

The eight men include the head of the Revolutionary Guards, a former interior minister and the prosecutor general.

The treasury department said they would face a travel ban and asset freeze.

The alleged abuses include the killings and beatings of anti-government protesters after the disputed presidential election in June 2009.

Millions of Iranians defied official warnings and participated in mass rallies that drew the largest crowds since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The authorities launched a brutal crackdown, during which opposition and human rights groups accused the security forces of extra-judicial killings, rapes and torture. Thousands were held without charge.

Over the subsequent six months, at least 40 protesters were killed, although the opposition says more than 70 died. At least two people have been executed for related offences, and dozens imprisoned.


In a statement, the White House said: "As the president noted in his recent address to the United Nations General Assembly, human rights are a matter of moral and pragmatic necessity for the United States."

"The United States will always stand with those in Iran who aspire to have their voices heard. We will be a voice for those aspirations that are universal, and we continue to call upon the Iranian government to respect the rights of its people."

All of those named in the US sanctions list served in Iran's military, law enforcement and justice system around the time of the 2009 protests:...

There follows a list of those named in the sanctions, and a video clip of Secretary of State Clinton.

Check it out on the BBC here.

This declaration follows on the most recent symbol of disapproval of Iran, when the US and other nations walked out of the UN as the Iranian despot did his usual anti-Israel, anti-all- things-not-Iranian screed this past week.

My two questions are this:

1) what took you so long? and 2) what is the US actually going to do?

We have all watched the horrific videos and read the desperate emails/twitters that the Iranian people bravely got out to the watching west following the farce of an election last June. Who can forget grotesque images like this? (Yes, I have chosen to show the obscenity of Neda's death, as a reminder.)

The BBC story above quotes the official number as 40 killed and thousands were arrested. I would suggest that both numbers are grossly under-estimated, since at least one other story sated that 70 Iranian professors were arrested in the horrific days following June 2009. Many of those Iranians arrested were never heard of again, and we know that there were many who were beaten and tortured. There was also executions of those who dared to protest and demand a democratic vote.

Iranian 'leaders' have continued to laugh at the west's demands about their nuclear programme, and the UN has allowed Ahmadinejad to continue his unfettered mockery of the condemnation by the rest of the world. Since 1979, Iran has consistently ignored any rhetoric expressing disappointment, disapproval and even 'outrage,' spouted from the rest of the world. We also know that Iran has aided and abetted enemies of the west in this current Global War on Terror, as we hear of Islamic terrorists being trained and supplied with weaponry by the Iranian regime.

Since 1979, all the west has offered IS rhetoric, and empty words, symbols. Back in June 2009, the Iranian people were dying on their streets, and begging the world to hear them, to help them.

It appears that the wheels of diplomatic solutions turn really, REALLY slowly, but this pronouncement of sanctions today - unless backed up with real action and consequences for the Iranian despots - will accomplish nothing, except more mockery from Ahmadinejad.

Since BHO took office, he has talked a good talk (usually ad nauseum,) about human rights, but he has yet to prove - unequivocally - that he is prepared to walk the walk, and back his words with action.

Today's statement about sanctions is a good thing, a good first step. It also makes for a good soundbite on the evening news. However, if these words, these sanctions, are not backed up with actions that mean more than empty noise, we will have failed the people of Iran - again.

Mr President: the people of Iran, and the rest of us, are watching. The "always" you spoke of is NOW! It is long time past for the talking to stop, and for the people of Iran to know that we DO stand with them, whatever the cost.

To quote JFK of January 1961 (another Democrat president):

Let every nation know, [...] that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

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