Wotka World Wide

Saturday, October 24, 2009

This is truly sickening and disturbing. Our government, via the State Department, is denying funding to Iranian human rights organizations:

The Boston Globe reported this month that the Connecticut-based Iran Human Rights Documentation Center recently lost its State Department funding. The Center—a nonpartisan group that documents Iran's human-rights abuses—had received $3 million over the past five years. It will shut down in May, said Executive Director Renee Redman, unless private donors save it.

Less widely known is that Freedom House, the nonpartisan watchdog group founded in 1941, also lost State Department funding. It applied in April for significant funds to support initiatives including Gozaar, its Farsi-English online journal of democracy and human rights, and was turned down in July. Since 2006, Freedom House had received over $2 million from the U.S. and European governments for Iran-related efforts. "We might have to close Gozaar if we run out of money," deputy executive director Thomas O. Melia told us this week.

Then there's the International Republican Institute (IRI), which for several years received State Department support to train Iranian reformers and connect them to like-minded activists in Europe and elsewhere. IRI's recent application for funds was denied, an IRI official told us last week.

And this is probably the reason:

"There has been a view within the Obama administration at a senior policy level that this Iran democracy program is a chit, and a chit that can be traded away to the Iranian regime," says J. Scott Carpenter, a State Department official under George W. Bush. As Iran expert and human-rights advocate Mariam Memarsadeghi told us, the Obama team sees the democratic movement "as a wrench in the works of nuclear negotiations."

Define morally repugnant. I think this is it. And to think this government has a peace prize associated with it, for this kind of thing. Meanwhile, the Iranians just blew off the U.N. mandated date to come to a nuclear agreement. So I guess that strategy is really working out...

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