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Obama news conference: President condemns 'unjust actions' in Iran

June 23, 2009 |  9:42 am

Iranian Neda Agha Soltan, who was reportedly killed when hit by a bullet during a protest in Tehran. This morning, in the White House press briefing room, President Obama opened the fourth press conference of his presidency with a stern tone about the upheavals in Iran following its recent election.

He alluded to Neda Agha-Soltan, the 26-year-old woman whose death was broadcast around the world on YouTube, and reiterated his stance — criticized by some — that the citizens of Iran will control their own fate without the intervention of the U.S.:

“I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost.

“I have made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran and is not at all interfering in Iran’s affairs.

But we must also bear witness to the courage and dignity of the Iranian people and to a remarkable opening within Iranian society. And we deplore violence against innocent civilians anywhere that it takes place.

“The Iranian people are trying to have a debate about their future. Some in the Iranian government in particular are trying to avoid that debate by accusing the United States and others in the West of instigating protests over the elections.

These accusations are patently false. They are an obvious attempt to distract people from what is truly taking place within Iran’s borders. This tired strategy of using old tensions to scapegoat other countries won’t work anymore in Iran. This is not about the United States and the West; this is about the people of Iran, and the future that they – and only they – will choose.

“The Iranian people can speak for themselves. That is precisely what has happened the last few days. In 2009, no iron fist is strong enough to shut off the world from bearing witness to peaceful protests of justice.

Despite the Iranian government’s efforts to expel journalists and isolate itself, powerful images and poignant words have made their way to us through cell phones and computers, and so we have watched what the Iranian people are doing.

This is what we have witnessed. We have seen the timeless dignity of tens of thousands Iranians marching in silence. We have seen people of all ages risk everything to insist that their votes are counted and their voices heard.

Above all, we have seen courageous women stand up to brutality and threats, and we have experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets. While this loss is raw and painful, we also know this: those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.”

The second issue he addressed is his administration’s effort to “build a clean energy economy.”

-- Robin Abcarian

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Photo: AFP / Getty Images

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