House Unites in Support for Iranian Protesters
The resolution praises “the bravery, courage and determination of Iranians who risk their safety to speak out against human rights abuses by the Iranian regime.”
Getty Images Adam Kredo • January 10, 2023 1:40 p.m
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is rallying around a resolution expressing solidarity and support for Iranian protesters who are risking their lives to demonstrate against the hardline regime.
As one of the first legislative efforts on Tuesday, the House is poised to pass the resolution, which praises “the bravery, courage and determination of the women and men of Iran who are demonstrating in more than 133 cities and risking their safety to speak out against abuses of human rights by the Iranian regime,” according to a copy of the measure obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Led by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R., NY), the resolution has the initial support of 34 members, including 22 Democrats. Congressional sources who spoke to the Free Beacon said the resolution was formally introduced Tuesday and is expected to pass in the coming weeks with broad bipartisan support. The broad support for the effort sends a message that Congress is closely watching the protests in Iran and standing with anti-regime dissidents as they try to topple the hardline government.
“As the Iranian regime continues to violently suppress peaceful protests and massacre its own people, Congress must take a clear and unequivocal stand against this brutality,” Tenney told the Free Beacon in a statement. “The United States must support and stand with the courageous Iranians calling for basic human rights and demanding justice for the killing of Mahsa Amini and countless other innocent Iranians.” Amini is the 22-year-old woman who sparked the protest movement last year after she was killed by Iran’s moral policy of indecent head coverings.
The move is a signal that the new Congress wants to track and identify human rights abuses committed by the Iranian regime so that it can pursue further sanctions and other measures in response to the Iranian government’s violent crackdown. In addition to codifying public information on the number of Iranians imprisoned and killed as a result of the protests, the measure calls on the Biden administration and international allies “to impose human rights sanctions on officials and entities responsible for suppressing the current protests, including in violating the human rights of the Iranian people.” It also calls for “transparent accountability for all killings of protesters by Iranian security forces.”
It also includes provisions that could help lay the groundwork for the United States to step up efforts aimed at strengthening Internet access for Iranians. As the protests continue, Iranian leaders have tried to shut down the Internet and block messaging apps that are helping protesters coordinate. Congress, along with the US State Department, can help “provide support for VPNs and other alternatives that can be used to circumvent attempts by authoritarian governments to censor Internet access during times of protest,” according to measure.
The resolution calls on the Biden administration to “immediately impose, under existing authorities, additional human rights sanctions against officials and entities responsible for suppressing the current protests.”
As the protests stretch into their fourth month, the Iranian government has responded by kidnapping and killing scores of demonstrators. In the face of this crackdown, protests in more than 133 cities and 130 universities across Iran have included unprecedented public demonstrations, such as “burning hijabs, cutting hair and dancing in front of Iranian security forces,” according to the congressional resolution.
Iranian security forces have arrested more than 18,000 protesters and killed more than 450, including 58 children, according to the resolution. “The number of injuries and deaths is likely to be higher, but unreachable due to internet outages,” he points out.
“We must do everything we can to support the Iranian people’s right to self-determination, including holding accountable those responsible for violently suppressing peaceful protesters,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), incoming House Speaker. The Affairs Committee said in a statement. “The Iranian people must be able to exercise their basic human rights, and we absolutely cannot make any deal that takes the pressure off this murderous regime.”