Resolution in Congress seeks Iranian freedom

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A bipartisan group of House members on Thursday put forward a resolution calling for the Iranian government to cease the oppression of its people and political dissidents.

The representatives held a news conference to highlight the resolution, which is being sponsored by Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat, and which they put forward on the first anniversary of the start of Iran’s violent postelection uprising.

The representatives, many of whom are on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said they hope their resolution will help bring democracy to the Islamic republic.

“It encourages the Iranian people to know that it’s not them we have a quarrel with; it’s their government,” said Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Republican and resolution co-sponsor.

“Any enemy of the mullah is a friend of ours,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican and resolution co-sponsor.

Some of those who attended the news conference - especially those with family imprisoned or oppressed in Iran - stopped the House members to thank them for sponsoring the resolution.

Alireza Jafarzadeh, a longtime member of the Iranian resistance who helped reveal Iran’s secret nuclear operations, said he was pleased with the event’s turnout.

“We expect to get a majority support in a few weeks,” Mr. Jafarzadeh said, adding that the resolution already has strong support.

He said the resolution will not require the U.S. to spend any money on Iran but states that the U.S. government will stand by those who are trying to bring democracy to the Islamic nation.

“This will signal to the regime that the resistance has support on the Hill,” said Raymond Tanter, president of the Iran Policy Committee, a research and educational organization that advocates working with the Iranian opposition.

The resolution also asks the secretary of state to remove the National Council of Resistance of Iran from its list of terrorist organizations. The United Nations and the European Union already have removed the organization from their lists, Mr. Tanter said.

The State Department has placed the council on its list of foreign terrorist organizations because of its affiliation with the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, an Islamic Marxist group that seeks to overthrow the Iranian government.

One year ago, the streets of Iran’s capital erupted in protest over the presidential election results, which declared Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner. The protests were violently crushed, with as many as 300 casualties.

The regime has since cracked down on any dissidents in Iran, executing 27 political prisoners just this week.

Mr. Jafarzadeh said the resolution will extend protection to dissidents inside Iran, similar to the protection Congress granted Camp Ashraf after Iraqi soldiers killed 11 and injured 500 in the dissident camp of 3,400.

The representatives who spoke insisted it is the responsibility of the United States to stand up to the Iranian government. Rep. William Lacy Clay, Missouri Democrat, described it by quoting Martin Luther King Jr.: “Injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere.”

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About the Author
Michelle Phillips

Michelle Phillips

Michelle Phillips is a student intern with the Washington Times through the National Journalism Center covering international affairs.

After growing up overseas, Ms. Phillips returned to the U.S. to attend Rice University for her bachelor’s degree, and is entering her junior year there. She discovered her love of journalism in college while working for the school newspaper, the Rice Thresher, ...

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