2010 Democracy Award: Statement from President Barack Obama

Read by Samantha Power, Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs, NSC

Saturday will mark one year from the day that an election captivated the attention of the world – an event that should have been remembered for how the Iranian people participated with remarkable enthusiasm in a democratic process, but will instead be remembered for how the Iranian government brutally suppressed dissent and murdered the innocent, including a young woman left to die in the street.

Over the course of this year, the people of Iran have sought to exercise their universal rights. They have been met with beatings in the street, imprisonment without cause, and false accusations that they served a foreign interest rather than their own interest in a better life. The courage of so many Iranians in the face of severe repression is inspiring. It reminds us of democratic movements that have brought greater freedom and respect for universal rights to every region of the world. It causes us to look forward to the day when Iranians will be able to speak freely, assemble without fear, and express their views without facing retribution – a day when the Iranian government will represent and foster not fear, but instead the aspirations of its own people.

It is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make it clear that we are on the side of those who seek freedom, justice and dignity, as surely as hope and history are on their side. The courage of the Iranian people stands as an example to us all, and it challenges us to continue our efforts to bend the arc of history in the direction of justice.