Biden hails Iranian protestors; Blinken meets with civil society activists
WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – Speaking on Friday to a community college in California about healthcare costs, US President Joe Biden—quite unexpectedly—began his remarks by hailing the protestors in Iran.
Also on Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with a group of civil society activists, working to promote human rights, including women’s rights, in Iran.
Friday’s meeting marked the first such engagement Blinken has had. Earlier this month, Biden issued a written statement, condemning the Iranian regime’s suppression of protests, but his remarks on Friday were his first in-person comments.
Read More: Biden condemns Iranian regime’s suppression of protests; warns of more sanctions
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On Friday, as Biden was about to begin his speech at Irvine Valley Community College, some 50 miles south of Los Angeles, he saw a “Free Iran” sign in the audience, leading him to make some impromptu remarks in support of the protestors.
“I want you to know,” he said, “we stand with the citizens and brave women of Iran, who right now are demonstrating to secure their very basic, fundamental rights.”
“Women and men should have the right,” he continued, “to freedom and expression and assembly,” and “women should be able to wear,” what “they want to wear,” without anyone telling how to dress.
Biden also called on the Iranian regime “to end the violence against its own citizens” who are “simply exercising their fundamental rights.”
Noting that he has been engaged in foreign policy for “a long, long time,” Biden explained, “It stunned me what” Mahsa (Jinna) Amini’s death has “awakened in Iran,” which “I don’t think will be quieted in a long, long time.”
Meeting of Blinken and his aides with Civil Society Activists on Women’s Rights and Human Rights in Iran
We continue to find ways to respond to the Iranian government’s state-sponsored violence against women and crackdown on its people. Today, I met with civil society partners to discuss what more the U.S. can do to support the people of Iran, particularly its brave women and girls. pic.twitter.com/d5xEnbeWfH— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) October 15, 2022
A number of senior State Department officials joined Blinken in meeting with the human rights activists, who, reportedly, were all Iranian-Americans. They include: Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman; Undersecretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, Uzra Zeya; Special Envoy for Iran, Rob Malley; and Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert (Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Barbara Leaf, is traveling in the region.)
Blinken previewed his meeting with the Iranian-American activists, speaking to the press in terms similar to Biden.
“In the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death and the spontaneous demonstration of outrage that this has produced, I think we are seeing something that is quite remarkable throughout the country, led primarily by women and young people,” Blinken said.
After the meeting, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price issued a statement summarizing the discussion. Price’s summary suggested that the meeting was, in significant part, exploratory—an effort to better understand how the US government can be more supportive of the protestors.
“Secretary Blinken asked civil society partners for their perspectives on what more the United States could do to support the people of Iran, particularly in light” of the regime’s “state-sponsored violence against women and contempt for human rights,” Price’s read-out explained.
Blinken “praised the courage of the Iranian people, especially the women and girls of Iran, and he thanked the activists for continuing their work at this critical moment,” it continued.
The State Department announced no new measures related to this issue. But it is evident that senior US officials, starting with President Biden, are disturbed by the ongoing repression in Iran. Perhaps, the meeting of Blinken and his aides with the activists will generate new ideas on how the US can help to more effectively promote support the protestors.