Today, President Obama signed an Executive Order that imposes sanctions on Iranian officials determined to be responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses involving Iran. In a press briefing with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about the new Executive Order. She said:
"...President Obama signed an Executive Order targeting eight Iranian officials responsible for serious and sustained human rights abuses since the disputed election of June 2009. On these officials' watch or under their command, Iranian citizens have been arbitrarily arrested, beaten, tortured, raped, blackmailed, and killed. Yet the Iranian Government has ignored repeated calls from the international community to end these abuses, to hold to account those responsible and respect the rights and fundamental freedoms of its citizens. And Iran has failed to meet its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
"The steady deterioration in human rights conditions in Iran has obliged the United States to speak out time and time again. And today, we are announcing specific actions that correspond to our deep concern. The mounting evidence of repression against anyone who questions Iranian Government decisions or advocates for transparency or even attempts to defend political prisoners is very troubling.
"This week, Iranian authorities banned two reformist political parties and shut down two more newspapers. This follows a series of convictions and harsh sentences for a number of political prisoners. Two internationally recognized human rights defenders were sentenced to six-year prison terms. A student leader was given an eight and a half year sentence for insulting the president. Human rights lawyers, bloggers, journalists and activists for women's rights have all been jailed and many have fallen ill due to mistreatment in prison.
"Now, these actions obviously contradict recent claims made at the United Nations that Iranians enjoy the right of free expression and that no one is imprisoned for political reasons. In signing this Executive Order, the President sends the message that the United States stands up for the universal rights of all people. And as President Obama said at the United Nations last week, we will call out those who suppress ideas. We will serve as a voice for the voiceless. And we will hold abuse of governments and individuals accountable for their actions.
"This is the first time the United States has imposed sanctions against Iran based on human rights abuses. We would like to be able to tell you that it might be the last, but we fear not. We now have at our disposal a new tool that allows us to designate individual Iranians, officials responsible for or complicit in serious human rights violations, and do so in a way that does not in any way impact on the well-being of the Iranian people themselves.
"The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 permits us to impose financial sanctions and deny U.S. visas to specific Iranian officials where there is credible evidence against them. In doing so today, we declare our solidarity with their victims and with all Iranians who wish for a government that respects their human rights and their dignity and their freedom. By doing so, we convey our strong support for the rule of law, and we speak out for those unable to speak for themselves because they are jailed or frightened or fear retribution against themselves or their families.
"Today, again, we call for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran and around the world, and we call on the Iranian Government to take actions to end these abuses and respect the universal rights and freedoms of its own citizens."