US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved a bipartisan resolution reaffirming Washington’s support for antigovernment protesters in Iran.
Spearheaded by Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the resolution condemned the Islamic Republic’s security forces for their violent response to Iranian citizens who have taken to the streets for their fundamental human rights.
An identical resolution was also introduced in the House of Representatives by Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), and Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The text of the resolution acknowledges common protest chants on streets, including "Women, life, freedom!"; “Iranians die but will not be suppressed!” and “Death to the dictator” referring to Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei.
The resolution is aimed at garnering support for internationally coordinated measures against the regime, calling for continued efforts to hold those violating human rights accountable, including through additional sanctions. It also specifically stressed the importance for the United States government and the broader international community to provide additional support for access to digital communications and internet freedom given reports that the regime is blocking internet access out of fear of its citizens.
Senator Bob Menendez speaking in the Senate on February 1, 2022
Hailing the popular uprising of Iranians, Menendez said, “Nearly three months since the brutal detention, beating, and murder of Mahsa Amini, the courage and defiance the Iranian people continue to display in the face of the regime’s brutality has served as an extraordinary example for all of us and everyone around the world who believes all people deserve a say in their livelihoods and way of life.”
He also expressed hope that the Congressional approval of this bipartisan, bicameral resolution will “help amplify the voices of the hundreds of thousands of women and men of Iran who are protesting against the brutality of one of the world’s most repressive regimes.”
Calling on the international community to stand with the people of Iran, Menendez said he is committed to keep the Committee’s spotlight on the Iranian regime’s crackdowns, shutdowns, and deflections in response to the demands of the Iranian people.
Menendez was among the first Democrat lawmakers who had spoken out against the Biden administration's Iran policy and ongoing nuclear talks earlier this year. Stressing the need for a new Iran strategy and an end to negotiations with Iran to restore the JCPOA, the powerful Senate Democrat demanded that Biden should enforce oil export sanctions currently on the books against Iran. Since Biden’s election Tehran has increased its oil exports to nearly one million barrels a day, mostly in illicit shipments to China.
Endorsing the new resolution, Senator Blackburn said, “Many brave Iranians fighting for their basic human rights are brutally murdered or taken to prison, where they endure harrowing torture until they are executed,” while Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said, “Iranians are struggling for their freedom,”
“Every day, we learn more about the Iranian regime and the lengths they will go to retain power and control. The Iranian people’s fight for equal rights and freedom has been heard around the world as they push back against violent security forces. The bravery of the Iranian citizens cannot be overstated, and we stand with them in their peaceful protests against their tyrannical government,” said Senator Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).
Ben Cardin (D-Md.) also commended Iranians for “standing up against an oppressive, corrupt regime,” adding that “Iran’s murderous crackdown on peaceful protesters deserves universal condemnation.”
The measures came a few hours before the Islamic Republic executed the first detained protester who was convicted of injuring a security guard with a knife and closing off a street in the capital Tehran.
So far, around 500 civilians have been killed by security forces and at least 18,000 arrested. While many have been released, around 1,500 face criminal charges, and at least 80 detainees face the death sentence.