The President’s thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends, and colleagues of Laura Pollán, the founder of Las Damas de Blanco, who passed away Friday in Havana. Pollán and the quiet dignity of the Ladies in White have courageously voiced the core desire of the Cuban people and of people everywhere to live in liberty. Through their brave actions, the Ladies in White draw attention to the plight of those who are unjustly held in Cuba’s prisons and pushed Cuban authorities to release those political prisoners wrongly jailed in the Spring of 2003.
Since the beginning of the Administration we have worked to reach out to the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their future and Cuba’s future. We will continue that work in Pollán’s memory.
The President is deeply concerned about the violence in Egypt that has led to a tragic loss of life among demonstrators and security forces. The United States expresses our condolences to the families and loved ones of all who were killed or injured, and stands with the Egyptian people in this painful and difficult time. Now is a time for restraint on all sides so that Egyptians can move forward together to forge a strong and united Egypt. As the Egyptian people shape their future, the United States continues to believe that the rights of minorities – including Copts – must be respected, and that all people have the universal rights of peaceful protest and religious freedom. We also note Prime Minister Sharaf’s call for an investigation and appeal to all parties to refrain from violence. These tragic events should not stand in the way of timely elections and a continued transition to democracy that is peaceful, just and inclusive.
The United States is deeply disappointed with the conviction and sentencing of former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko through a politically motivated prosecution. The charges against Mrs. Tymoshenko and the conduct of her trial, as well as the prosecution of other opposition leaders and members of the preceding government, have raised serious concerns about the Government of Ukraine’s commitment to democracy and rule of law.
The United States strongly supports the Ukrainian peoples’ goal of becoming a democratic and prosperous European state, and remains dedicated to strengthening bilateral cooperation based on shared values and shared interests. Ukraine, however, cannot reach this goal without redoubled efforts to protect and advance democracy and the rule of law for all its citizens. For these reasons, the United States urges the release of Mrs. Tymoshenko and the other political leaders and former government officials, and believes that they should have an unrestricted ability to participate fully in political life, including next year’s parliamentary elections.
President Obama welcomes the launch of the National Dialogue in Bahrain, which represents an important moment of promise for the people of Bahrain. The United States commends King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa for his leadership in initiating the dialogue. We also commend the decision by Al Wifaq, Bahrain’s largest opposition group, to join the dialogue. We urge all Bahrainis to seize this opportunity to forge a more just future together. It is important that government and political leaders create a positive atmosphere to help promote a successful dialogue process.
The United States also welcomes the formation of a commission of inquiry to investigate and report on events connected with the unrest of recent months. By providing an independent assessment of what happened and identifying those responsible, the Royal Commission will play an essential role in advancing reconciliation, justice, and peace in Bahrain. As a long-standing partner of Bahrain, the United States continues to believe that Bahrain’s stability will be enhanced by respecting the universal rights of the people of Bahrain and reforms that meet the aspirations of all Bahrainis.
The United States welcomes the arrest of Goran Hadzic, who is charged with participation in the murder of hundreds of Croatian civilians, among other crimes, and is the final remaining fugitive indicted for atrocities by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). We congratulate President Tadic and the Government of Serbia for ensuring that the last fugitive indictee of the ICTY will now face justice.
We hope that Goran Hadzic’s arrest, coming less than two months after the arrest of fellow indictee Ratko Mladic, can bring some much needed closure to the victims of the crimes committed in Croatia, and their families, and elsewhere in the region. It also serves as yet another reminder to those around the world who carry out terrible crimes that their day, too, will come.
Over the course of its 18-year history, the United States has been and remains a steadfast supporter of the ICTY and its critically important work. The arrests of Mladic and now Hadzic, the final two fugitives out of 161 individuals indicted by the court, will allow the ICTY, and the many professionals who have worked in its chambers, to finally complete their mandate on behalf of the victims and in pursuit of justice.
The United States supports a peaceful transfer of power in Yemen that is responsive to the aspirations of the Yemeni people. We applaud the announcements by the Yemeni Government and the opposition that they have accepted the GCC-brokered agreement to resolve the political crisis in a peaceful and orderly manner. We encourage all parties to move swiftly to implement the terms of the agreement so that the Yemeni people can soon realize the security, unity, and prosperity that they have so courageously sought and so richly deserve.