Selectively outraged

From a State Department briefing on March 12:

MR PALLADINO: Let’s start with this: We are outraged to hear reports that the Iranian regime sentenced Iranian human rights defender and women’s rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes. This sentence is beyond barbaric. Her alleged crime was advocating for Iranian women’s rights and for defending other Iranian women who were arrested by the regime for peacefully protesting the mandatory hijab law. Nasrin was sentenced in absentia without a fair trial by the notorious revolutionary court, which is led by Judge Moghiseh, an accused human rights violator.

In addition, just this week, the regime cynically announced that as they enter the fifth decade of the Iranian Revolution, they would appoint Ebrahim Raisi, a man involved in mass summary executions of prisoners of conscience, as the head of the regime’s judiciary. The Iranian regime makes a mockery of the entire legal system in Iran, placing innocent people at the mercy of accused human rights violators. We condemn Nasrin’s sentence in the strongest possible terms and call on all of our partners and allies to speak out and demand the release of this courageous human rights defender and all those arbitrarily detained immediately. The Iranian people deserve a government that respects their legitimate demands and the human rights of all in Iran, not one that subjects them to prosecution in a justice system led by accused human rights violators.

There were several questions on various subjects and then:

QUESTION: Can I ask you, on a separate topic, your statement at the beginning on Iran and the sentencing of a women’s rights activist: Why didn’t you issue a similar statement when Saudi Arabia arrested women rights activists there, including a State Department International Women of Courage Award winner, Samar Badawi?

MR PALLADINO: We’ve – I mean, this particular case really was barbaric. Many others have spoken out on this as well. Thirty-eight – this is a – basically, a lawyer representing women clients that’s been sentenced to 38 years and 148 lashes. That kind of barbarism is something that must be called out.

In regards to other countries, Secretary Pompeo – we’ve spoken about – we speak about human rights, frankly, when we engage – when we travel the world engaging partners, allies. We do this regularly. It’s something that we stand for. It’s something that we’ll continue to do.

QUESTION: But why not do it from the podium in a similar fashion?

MR PALLADINO: I’m not sure what specific case you’re referring to. We choose different ways to communicate our – to promote the value – human rights values. It’s something we’re going to continue to be outspoken about and we raise this regularly with all partners.

In other words, Saudi Who?

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