President Obama on Iran : The Government’s Violence and Unjust Behavior Against Its Own People Must Stop

By Evan Harris

Jun 20, 2009 3:34pm

An administration source says that President Obama has received intelligence updates throughout the day and has repeatedly met to discuss the situation with senior foreign policy advisors. The most recent of these meetings took place in the President’s study, adjacent to the Oval Office.

The president just issued a statement saying that "the Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rightsm"

The president has been walking a fine line in his public statements on Iran, condeming the violence and praising the passion of Iranians, while trying to stay at arm's length so as not to undermine the demonstrators' credibility by giving Ayatollah Khamanei and President Ahmadinejad a way to paint reformers as tools of the West. Earlier this week, the president expressed "concern" about the violence but didn't even specify who was committing it. On Friday he upped the rhetoric a touch, cautioning the Iranian government that this whole world woukd be watching its response to today's protests. Today marks another slightly more aggressive response.

Referencing his speech to the Muslim world, Mr. Obama said that as he "said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion."

Concluded the president: "Martin Luther King once said, 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.' I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness. "

- jpt

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