Obama cuts off funds to Iran human rights groups

Barack Obama carries on his campaign to gut the democracy promotion and human rights efforts that had been pushed by Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush. While he offers tacit support for Hugo Chavez and seems intent on supporting their would be dictator and denying the Honduran people the rights guaranteed them by their own Constitution, his State Department also wields the axe in one area of the federal budget: an Iran human rights watchdog group has had its funding cut to zero by the State Department:

From a piece by Farah Stockman in the Boston Globe:


For the past five years, researchers in a modest office overlooking the New Haven green have carefully documented cases of assassination and torture of democracy activists in Iran. With more than $3 million in grants from the US State Department, they have pored over thousands of documents and Persian-language press reports and interviewed scores of witnesses and survivors to build dossiers on those they say are Iran's most infamous human-rights abusers.

But just as the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center was ramping up to investigate abuses of protesters after this summer's disputed presidential election, the group received word that - for the first time since it was formed - its federal funding request had been denied.

"If there is one time that I expected to get funding, this was it,'' said Rene Redman, the group's executive director, who had asked for $2.7 million in funding for the next two years. "I was sur prised, because the world was watching human rights violations right there on television.''

Many see the sudden, unexplained cutoff of funding as a shift by the Obama administration away from high-profile democracy promotion in Iran, which had become a signature issue for President Bush. But the timing has alarmed some on Capitol Hill.


The New Haven-based group is considered the most comprehensive clearing house of documents related to human rights abuses in Iran and the sudden cut off from federal funding - the first time its request for funding has ever been refused - came as a shock. The group was gearing up to develop a list of all those arrested in the latest crackdown following the widely disputed election, and a list of those responsible for abusing prisoners. In the past reports have been prepared about forced confessions of bloggers and journalists, massacres of thousands of political prisoners, and the regime's campaign to kill dissidents abroad.

The Wall Street Journal's editors notice the Obama administration's spinelessness on human rights:

"In nearly nine months in office, President Obama has found time to meet with Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega and Vladimir Putin. But this week he won't see the Dalai Lama, a peaceful religious leader who has long been a friend to the U.S. and an advocate of human rights for China's six million Tibetans. . . . "

The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center is not the only group sacrificed by Barack Obama in his drive to appease dictators and throw human rights on the dustbin of history. Three other groups receiving funding for democracy promotion in Iran have also been informed they are being zeroed out by the Obama administration. An activist for a group that works against the death penalty in Iran (the regime routinely murders children via the death "penalty") has words of wisdom:

If the rationale is that we are going to stop funding human rights-related work in Iran because we don't want to provoke the government, it is absolutely the wrong message to send,'' she said. "That means that we don't really believe in human rights, that the American government just looks into it when it is convenient."



Barack Obama spoke these words before the United Nations two weeks ago :



The United Nations was born of the belief that the people of the world can live their lives, raise their families, and resolve their differences peacefully. And yet we know that in too many parts of the world, this ideal remains an abstraction -- a distant dream. We can either accept that outcome as inevitable, and tolerate constant and crippling conflict, or we can recognize that the yearning for peace is universal, and reassert our resolve to end conflicts around the world.

That effort must begin with an unshakeable determination that the murder of innocent men, women and children will never be tolerated. On this, no one can be -- there can be no dispute.

And that is why we must champion those principles which ensure that governments reflect the will of the people. These principles cannot be afterthoughts -- democracy and human rights are essential to achieving each of the goals that I've discussed today, because governments of the people and by the people are more likely to act in the broader interests of their own people, rather than narrow interests of those in power.

The test of our leadership will not be the degree to which we feed the fears and old hatreds of our people. True leadership will not be measured by the ability to muzzle dissent, or to intimidate and harass political opponents at home. The people of the world want change. They will not long tolerate those who are on the wrong side of history.

This Assembly's Charter commits each of us -- and I quote -- "to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women." Among those rights is the freedom to speak your mind and worship as you please; the promise of equality of the races, and the opportunity for women and girls to pursue their own potential; the ability of citizens to have a say in how you are governed, and to have confidence in the administration of justice. For just as no nation should be forced to accept the tyranny of another nation, no individual should be forced to accept the tyranny of their own people.


These are just words to the President - applause lines when he is on the favorite place he has in the world-the stage. When push comes to shove, he willingly sacrifices the promotion of human rights to curry favor with tyrants*.

As Iran develops its nuclear weapons, more experts are of the belief that regime change from the bottom up is the key to forestalling nuclear war. As former Democratic Senator Scoop Jackson (the ideological relative of Senator Joe Lieberman ) realized long ago, the Helsinki Accords that focused on human rights in the Soviet Union and behind the Iron Curtain was the tool that led to the downfall of communist tyranny. The issue of human rights was the fulcrum that inspired millions of people to rise against the dictatorship that was running their lives and endangering world peace.If anyone can realize the power of the people, it should be our community organizer President. But that was then, and this is now.

To Barack Obama, these statements in support of human rights must be mere just words and a distraction from his efforts to appease dictators. We have come a long way from JFK.


This is the one area of the federal budget where Barack Obama chooses to economize. It is a shameful abdication of America's principles and a nice gift to the mad mullahs of Tehran.


*I am sure that the American Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, has no problem gutting human rights. When she worked for the Clinton administration, she advocated looking away from the genocide (redefine it, actually) in Darfur because it would place demands on America. She was a "bystander to genocide" http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/200109/power-genocide . She has continued to coddle dictators from her newly established Cabinet post: pushing for American participation in Durban II and American membership in the execrable UN Human Rights Council (the tool of dictators).