Iranian regime interested in preserving its power: Obama

"So far, the Iranian government has responded by demonstrating that it cares far more about preserving its own power than respecting the rights of the Iranian people," Obama said as he greeted Iranians in his Nowruz message.

For nearly two years, there has been a campaign of "intimidation and abuse", he said.
"Young and old; men and women; rich and poor – the Iranian people have been persecuted. Hundreds of prisoners of conscience are in jail. The innocent have gone missing. Journalists have been silenced. Women tortured. Children sentenced to death."

Referring to the recent human rights violation by the Iranian regime, including imprisonment of several rights activists, Obama said these choices do not demonstrate strength but show its fear.

"For it is telling when a government is so afraid of its own citizens that it won’t even allow them the freedom to access information or to communicate with each other. But the future of Iran will not be shaped by fear. The future of Iran belongs to the young people - the youth who will determine their own destiny," he said.

In his Nowruz message, Obama said this is a holiday for the Iranian people to spend time with friends and family; to reflect on the extraordinary blessings that you enjoy; and to look forward to the promise of a new day.

"After all, this is a season of hope and renewal. And today, we know that this is also a season of promise across the Middle East and North Africa, even as there are also enormous challenges."

"I believe that there are certain values that are universal -– the freedom of peaceful assembly and association; the ability to speak your mind and choose your leaders. And what we are seeing across the region is the insistence on governments that are accountable to the people," Obama said.

"But we also know that these movements for change are not unique to these last few months. The same forces of hope that swept across Tahrir Square were seen in Azadi Square in June of 2009. And just as the people of the region have insisted that they have a choice in how they are governed, so do the governments of the region have a choice in their response," Obama said.

Joining Obama in sending the Nowruz message, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton send her best wishes for health and prosperity to all those celebrating Nowruz throughout the world, including Americans, Afghans, Kurds, Azeris, Iranians and the people of Central Asia.

"For thousands of years, Nowruz has been a time for family and friends to gather and celebrate the beginning of a new year. Among the many rich traditions of celebrating Nowruz, the themes of rebirth and the pursuit of happiness are constant and aspirations we all share," Clinton said.

"This year allows us to reflect on recent events in the Middle East. We commend the demonstration of peaceful expressions of human rights and dignity we have seen in much of the region. We join the world community in embracing Nowruz’s opportunities and in striving to uphold its values," she added.

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