U.S. Senator and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain has hailed Iran's Green Movement in a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which also honored the Iranian opposition later in the day with its 2010 Democracy Award.*
In his speech at the endowment's headquarters in Washington, McCain said "the birth of the Green Movement over the past year should convince us that Iran will have a democratic future. That future may be delayed for awhile, but it will not be denied."
The NED award was received by Iranian poet Simin Behbahani on behalf of the Green Movement at an evening ceremony, although Behbahani was not present because authorities in Iran have confiscated her passport.
McCain said the Iranian peoples' desire for democratic ideals "gave birth to an indigenous political reform movement that is more promising and more consequential than anything the Middle East has seen in a generation."
McCain also criticized U.S. President Barack Obama for not doing enough to support the Green Movement. He urged Obama to "unleash America's full moral power to support the Iranian people...to bolster their will to endure in their struggle."
On June 12th, Iran marks the first anniversary of the nationwide protests following that country's disputed presidential election.
In response to the protests, the government launched a harsh crackdown and arrested thousands of opposition activists, journalists, and regular citizens. At least 70 people were killed in the unrest.
* CORRECTION: The original version of this story suggested McCain was present to deliver the award. In fact, his remarks came in a speech at an NED conference hours before the evening ceremony at which the award was presented.