House Resolution 504

Congressman Lantos submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on International Relations.

JULY 25, 2002

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives concerning the continuous repression of freedoms within Iran and of individual human rights abuses, particularly with regard to women.  

  Whereas the people of the United States respect the Iranian people and value the contributions that Iran's culture has made to world civilization for over 3 millennia;

Whereas the Iranian people aspire to democracy, civil, political, and religious rights, and the rule of law, as evidenced by increasingly frequent antigovernment and anti-Khatami demonstrations within Iran and by statements of numerous Iranian expatriates and dissidents; 

Whereas Iran is an ideological dictatorship presided over by an unelected Supreme Leader with limitless veto power, an unelected Expediency Council and Council of Guardians capable of eviscerating any reforms, and a President elected only after the aforementioned disqualified 234 other candidates for being too liberal, reformist, or secular; 

Whereas the United States recognizes the Iranian peoples' concerns that President Muhammad Khatami's rhetoric has not been matched by his actions;

Whereas President Khatami clearly lacks the ability and inclination to change the behavior of the State of Iran either toward the vast majority of Iranians who seek freedom or toward the international community; 

Whereas political repression, newspaper censorship, corruption, vigilante intimidation, arbitrary imprisonment of students, and public executions have increased since President Khatami's inauguration in 1997;

Whereas men and women are not equal under the laws of Iran and women are legally deprived of their basic rights; 

Whereas the Iranian government shipped 50-tons of sophisticated weaponry to the Palestinian Authority despite Chairman Arafat's cease-fire agreement, consistently seeks to undermine the Middle East peace process, provides safe-haven to al-Qa'ida and Taliban terrorists, allows transit of arms for guerrillas seeking to undermine our ally Turkey, provides transit of terrorists seeking to destabilize the United States-protected safe-haven in Iraq, and develops weapons of mass destruction; 

Whereas since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and despite rhetorical protestations to the contrary, the Government of Iran has actively and repeatedly sought to undermine the United States war on terror; 

Whereas there is a broad-based movement for change in Iran that represents all sectors of Iranian society, including youth, women, student bodies, military personnel, and even religious figures, that is pro-democratic, believes in secular government, and is yearning to live in freedom; 

Whereas following the tragedies of September 11, 2001, tens of thousands of Iranians filled the streets spontaneously and in solidarity with the United States and the victims of the terrorist attacks; and 

Whereas the people of Iran deserve the support of the American people: Now, therefore, be it  

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that--

  1. legitimizing the regime in Iran stifles the growth of the genuine democratic forces in Iran and does not serve the national security interest of the United States;

  2. positive gestures of the United States toward Iran should be directed toward the people of Iran, and not political figures whose survival depends upon preservation of the current regime; and

  3. it should be the policy of the United States to seek a genuine democratic government in Iran that will restore freedom to the Iranian people, abandon terrorism, and live in peace and security with the international community.

Mr. Wyden. Madam President, today we are resolved to see a new, rational foreign policy toward Iran, a policy that will engage the proud people of that nation and support their aspirations to be free of the theocratic state that abuses and oppresses them. 

It is time that we recognized that the forces of extremist clerics and their allies have so completely dominated the government of Iran that there is no means to achieve political liberalization within the current system. While President Khatami has often spoken of liberalization, the last 5 years show that either he is unwilling or unable to effect any democratic change.

In fact, the record of his administration has been increasing censorship, religious vigilantes and intimidation, and wide-spread political repression. The State Department has identified systematic abuses including summary executions,  

disappearances, and wide-spread use of torture and other forms of degradation.

Student dissidents within Iran have become increasingly better organized, and have been faced with greater repression. The frequent demonstrations by these students, women, and even religious dissidents, as well as the growing movements of expatriates show that there is a yearning for democratic change within the Iranian people. It should be a core value of our foreign policy to encourage and support any people who seek only the fundamental human freedoms laid out in our own bill of rights.

 There is also self-interest involved in this move. The Iranian regime has been supplying arms and cadre to terrorist movements attacking our allies in Turkey, Armenia, and Israel, and has striven to be a destabilizing force throughout the middle-east and central Asia. This is not the fault of the Iranian people, but of a criminal class that dominates them and strangles their hopes for a peaceful and progressive future. In the days following the tragedy of September 11, it is the people of Iran who spontaneously filled the streets in shared grieving over the loss of American lives.

 In dealing with Iran we must focus all of our efforts on the people, and their hopes for a free and democratic nation. The Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Liberty must redouble their efforts to provide uncensored truth to the Iranian people. The State Department must cease lending legitimacy to the current regime and pursue a policy of fundamental democratic change; this administration must seek ways to aid and sustain those movements that will effect that change, to the benefit of the Iranian and American people alike.


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