Iran must respect rights of citizens: US

The US has called for immediate release of imprisoned human rights activists.

Updated: Jun 13, 2010, 09:46 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Washington: Iran`s leaders must respect the rights of their citizens and uphold the country`s international obligations, the United States said on Saturday, on the first anniversary of the Islamic republic`s disputed Presidential Election.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called for the immediate release of imprisoned human rights activists as well as three American hikers who have been detained for almost a year without being charged.

A year after thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest the election results, to which the government responded with violence and arbitrary detentions, many political prisoners continue to languish in jail, some facing death sentences for expressing their opinions.

"The US reaffirms its commitment to engage with Iran on all issues in pursuit of a negotiated diplomatic resolution, on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interests," Hillary said.

"But we also will continue to speak out in defence of basic human liberties and in support of those around the world who seek to exercise their universal rights," she added.

On the occasion, Hillary said, "When the Iranian people determined last year that their government had denied them their right to free and fair elections, thousands of Iranian citizens poured into the streets to protest peacefully.”

"The Iranian authorities responded to their citizens` call for accountability and transparency with violence, arbitrary detentions, dubious trials, and intimidation", she said.

"One year later, many political prisoners continue to suffer in jail, some facing death sentences for expressing their opinions. Other civil society activists in Iran are not in prison, but they face other forms of persecution.”

“Over the past year, many of Iran`s most accomplished journalists, academics and activists felt they had no choice but to leave their homeland," she said.

"The Iranian government`s denial of the fundamental freedoms and rights accorded to its citizens in the Iranian Constitution and international treaties to which Iran is a party has drawn broad international condemnation," Hillary said in a statement.

"As President Obama said when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to stand with peaceful reform movements seeking the rights that are our common birthright.”

The US once again calls on the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran to meet their obligations to their own people and to the international community by respecting the rights and dignity of their citizens and by fully upholding Iran`s international obligations, Hillary said.

"We also call for the immediate release of all imprisoned human rights defenders and the three American hikers detained without charge for almost a year, and to provide information on the status of Mr Robert Levinson, who disappeared in Iran in 2007," she said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected in the June 12, 2009 vote amid widespread accusations from the opposition of electoral fraud.

(With Agencies’ inputs)