The Two Faces of Obama’s Human Rights Policy

Helle Dale /

Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) and his brother Raul, chat on December 23, 2003 in Havana, during a meeting of the Cuban Parliament. Raul Castro succeeded his brother Fidel Castro as the president of Cuba on February 24, 2008, in a historic power shift expected to keep Havana firmly on its communist path, officials said.

If you are a human rights activist or suffer under the yoke of an oppressive regime, do not expect the United States to be rushing to your assistance these days. As the U.S. government persists in pursuing engagement with less than savory regimes – such as those of Cuba and Iran – those who fight for liberty for their citizens are feeling the pinch.

Groups supporting freedom for the citizens of Iran have felt the change in tone since President Obama took office. One example was the defunding of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center in New Haven, Connecticut, which was denied a $2.7 million grant last fall. Also, despite the fact that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in January declared open season on Internet censorship on part of the U.S. government, the State Department has yet to walk the walk. “We stand for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it. Now, this challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic,” she said. Fine words, but what is the reality? (more…)