TEHRAN (June 19, 2009)-- Iran’s supreme leader took issue Friday with U.S. claims about human rights violations in his country in the wake of a bitterly contested presidential election, and cited the 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian compound outside of Waco as he questioned whether U.S. officials even “know what human rights are.”
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned protestors of a crackdown on massive street demonstrations.
He said protesters would be "held responsible for chaos if they didn't end" days of massive demonstrations.
He blamed Great Britain and Iran's external enemies for trying to foment unrest, and said “the worst thing to me in all of this are comments made in the name of human rights and freedom and liberty by American officials,” according to translations of his remarks posted online Friday.
“During the time of the Democrats...time of Clinton…80 people were burned alive in Waco,” he said.
“Now you are talking about human rights?”
His reference was to the fiery end to the 51-day standoff between federal agents and Branch Davidians in 1993 at the group’s compound outside of Waco.
Plans for the federal raid on the compound were actually set in motion while George H. W. Bush was president.
International human rights organizations say Iran's crackdown in response to protests over a disputed election has swept up dozens of activists and politicians.
The director of the New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights, Hadi Ghaemi, says he's been told at least 200 had been arrested or disappeared.
The Iranian government has said that it has arrested a relatively small number of people responsible for violence and other crimes.
Amnesty International and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran say they've heard similar reports.
Meanwhile, in the strongest message yet from the U.S. government, the House has voted to condemn Tehran's crackdown on demonstrators and the government's interference with Internet and cell phone communications.
Republicans initiated the resolution as a veiled criticism of President Barack Obama.
The president has mostly spoken in quite measured terms, reluctant to speak too strongly about the disputed elections that left hard-liner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in charge of the Muslim nation.
Democrats, who are quick to voice their support for Israel, easily agreed with the GOP on pushing through the mildly worded resolution.
Congress frequently weighs in on foreign policy matters, when a similar message from the State Department or the White House would be considered confrontational.