Iranians’ Aspirations For Freedom And Democracy In The New Iranian Year
WASHINGTON DC – On Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in a virtual policy briefing on Iran, Democratic and Republican senators came together to discuss proper U.S. policy on Iran, in light of the Iranian regime’s malign activities in the region, human rights violations, continued nuclear defiance and its full support for the invasion of Ukraine.
In a strong bipartisan support, six senators from both parties addressed the event including Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senate Foreign Relations Committee member, Ted Cruz (R-TX), Chair of the Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Senate Arms Service Committee member & co-chair of the Senate Human Rights Caucus, Thom Tillis (R-NC), Select Committee on Intelligence member, John Cornyn (R-Texas), as well as Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee ranking member, Patrick Toomey (R-PA).
President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, former senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), first national security advisor to President Obama, General James Jones as well as five Ukrainian officials, including three MPs, and two political figures close to President Zelenskyy also spoke at the event.
As the keynote address, Maryam Rajavi outlined how the ruling mullahs in Iran have openly supported the invasion of Ukraine and the killing of innocent civilians while the Iranian Resistance and the people of Iran have sided with the people of Ukraine and their Resistance. She said, “Today, the mullahs’ regime is at its weakest point. Iran’s economy is in a recession. Last year, there was one major anti-regime uprising every four months…The Resistance Units in Iran have combined the organized resistance with the social movement against the regime.” On Tehran’s drive to nuclear bomb, Mrs. Rajavi added, “The mullahs will never stop their bomb-making program, regardless of the result of the negotiations.” She called for the full implementation of the six UN Security Council Resolutions, dismantling of regime’s enrichment and nuclear facilities, and anytime, anywhere IAEA inspections of all suspected and declared nuclear related facilities in Iran. A principled approach she said, “is to recognize the Iranian people’s struggle to overthrow the clerical regime and the fight of Iran’s rebellious youth against the IRGC and the repressive forces.”
In his speech, Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) cautioned that, “While the world has turned its attention to Ukraine, we cannot lose sight of the threat of the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime who remains one of the few countries to vocally back Russia’s completely unprovoked and devastating invasion of Ukraine. As Russia bombs maternity hospitals and has caused more than 2 million people to flee their homes in a matter of weeks, Iran continues to stand by their Russian partner. Just as Iran has worked hand-in-glove with Russia in support of the Assad regime’s horrific campaign against the Syrian people for the past ten years, it continues to stand by Putin in the face of truly horrific actions.”
Russia, he noted, “is now leveraging its role in the talks in Vienna to again redirect attention away from the very real and immediate threat of Iran’s nuclear program. Along with your community, I have been outspoken about the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and have expressed serious concerns about the talks in Vienna to revive the deeply flawed JCPOA.”
Chairman Menendez added, “…about the ongoing horrific crimes the regime perpetrates against the Iranian people: arrests, detention, no judicial process. But of course, we should have expected nothing less from Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner crony of the Supreme Leader who is already subject to U.S. huma rights sanctions. With a leader who was actively involved in the forcible disappearance and extrajudicial killing of thousands of Iranian dissidents in 1998, and the brutal crackdowns against peaceful protesters in both the Green Movement of 2009 and the more recent protests of 2019.”
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, “Iran has made the region one of the most dangerous places on the globe. And the Biden administration sadly, has made it even more dangerous by looking the other way as the regime busted through sanctions, restored its oil exports to over one 1 million barrels a day for the first time in three years, and lifting terrorism sanctions on Iranian terrorists.”
Senator Cruz said the administration “wants nothing more than to create a new nuclear agreement with the Iranian regime that is even weaker than the catastrophic 2015 deal, even if it means surrendering to both the Ayatollah and Vladimir Putin.” Referencing the nationwide protests in Iran, Mr. Cruz said, the Iranian people want freedom and they’re suffering under the iron fist of the Ayatollah. He told the Iranian people, “I want you to know the good news is that truth is stronger than lies. And light is stronger than darkness. So, keep up the good fight for freedom and for democracy in Iran.”
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) highlighted resistance against tyranny in Iran and said, “Since 2018, there have been eight major uprisings in Iran involving 200 cities and hundreds of thousands of people. These protests have continued into 2022 as the people of Iran demand a better way of life. In 2021 alone, Iranians took to the streets in nationwide strikes and demonstrations of farmers, teachers, nurses and physicians.” “The parallels of the decades-long struggle of the people of Iran and the recent attacks on the sovereign and democratic people of Ukraine are inescapable,” adding, “We are witnessing the strong resistance of the people of Ukraine against the unjust invasion of their country, a resistance that I know is well appreciated by the people of Iran.”
Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) denounced Ebrahim Raisi, “who was handpicked by the Supreme Leader, is notorious for his key role in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran, based on a religious decree issued by the Supreme Leader against the main Iranian opposition, the MEK.” He expressed optimism about, “the thousands of freedom-seeking Iranians in Ashraf-3 in Albania, where I visited them and their leader Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. Led by a strong and dedicated woman, they continue to be a source of inspiration for the protesters in Iran who seek to end the tyranny.”
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) commended Iranian Americans for their, “hard work and fighting human rights abuse and totalitarianism as well as your solidarity with the people of Ukraine.” America, he said, “will always stand with the people of Iran and we will do everything we can to support your desire to be a free people.