Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Human Rights Defenders on Women and Human Rights in Iran
ANTONY J. BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE
THOMAS JEFFERSON ROOM
OCTOBER 14, 2022
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good morning, everyone. We’re gathered today as we see remarkable displays of courage throughout Iran as women, young people, and many others continue to stand up for the fundamental rights that continue to be denied them by the Iranian regime. This is in many ways not a new story; this has been going on for years, for decades. But 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.
This denial of fundamental rights, fundamental freedoms, is something that the United States has long worked against, as have many other countries around the world. But first and foremost, this is the Iranian people standing up with extraordinary courage for the rights that are being denied them. We’ve worked to support those who are standing for their fundamental freedoms despite the efforts of the regime to deny them the ability to assemble, to speak freely, to communicate with each other. We’ve imposed sanctions on the so-called morality police that are engaged in incredibly abusive practices. We have of course worked to license technology so that the Iranians have the ability to communicate with one another and to communicate with the outside world.
But today I was especially eager to hear from colleagues who’ve themselves in many different ways been on the front lines of the struggle for fundamental freedom and fundamental rights in Iran, to hear from them, to listen to them, to learn from them.
The final thing is this. I know that the Iranian regime will try to paint this and other expressions of solidarity with those standing up for their freedoms as evidence that these protests are somehow made outside of Iran and the work of others. And if that’s the case, if they genuinely believe that, they fundamentally – fundamentally – do not understand their own people. Because this is about Iran’s struggle, the struggle of the people of Iran, for the fundamental freedoms that have long been denied them. That’s what this is about, and the sooner the regime understands that and acts on that, the better everyone will be. Thank you.