US says Iran human rights record "degenerated"


WASHINGTON — The United States charged Thursday that Iran's already poor human rights record had "degenerated" in 2009, particularly with a security crackdown after disputed presidential elections.

The sharp criticism of Iran, contained in an annual State Department report on human rights abuses worldwide, comes as the Obama administration pushes for tougher sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its nuclear ambitions.

"The government's poor human rights record degenerated during the year, particularly after the disputed June presidential elections," the State Department said.

In a press briefing after the release, senior State Department official Michael Posner underscored the point that Iran's "poor human rights situation rapidly deteriorated after the June elections."

Iran is "a place where we are continuing to see severe repression" and the United States is continuing to pay "great attention" to the situation there.

Specificially, the report itself said "freedom of expression and association and lack of due process continued to be problems within Iran."

It recalled that Iranian police and the paramilitary Basij "violently suppressed demonstrations" after incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner of a contested election.

Dozens, if not scores were killed, and at least 4,000 individuals had been detained by August, it said.

"A massive show trial involving many of the more prominent detainees was undertaken in September," the report said.

It also referred to the Iranian government's crackdown on new media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

"After the June election, there was a major drop in bandwidth, which experts posited the government caused to prevent activists involved in the protests from accessing the Internet and uploading large video files," it said.

"The government continued to restrict freedom of religion severely, particularly against Bahais and, increasingly, Christians," it added.


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