U.S. President Barack Obama said the Iranian government cares more about preserving its own power than respecting the rights of Iranian citizens.
Obama made the comment in a video released by the White House to mark Norouz.
In the video, Obama said Iranian authorities have been engaging in a two-year campaign of intimidation and abuse of Iranian citizens. Obama said this campaign shows fear in the government.
Obama also specifically reached out to younger Iranians, saying they have the capability to break the cycle of intimidation and abuse and will determine Iran's future.
"You -- the young people of Iran -- carry within you both the ancient greatness of Persian civilization, and the power to forge a country that is responsive to your aspirations,” Obama said.
Obama said that the political uprisings that have sprung up this year, including in Tunisia and Egypt, represent a season of promise in the Middle East.
compiled from agency reports