BY JOHN BOWDEN – 04/27/21 12:11 PM EDT
Bipartisan support is growing on Capitol Hill for a Republican-led resolution condemning Iran’s alleged human rights violations and sponsorship of militant groups in the Middle East.
Lawmakers on Tuesday sent a letter to President Biden, noting that support for the bill was expected to “steadily increase” in the House, while telling the president that lawmakers were “encouraged to know that you are standing up for democracy and human rights around the world.”
They added in the letter that they hoped Biden would make three “pillars” central to his Iran policy going forward: “democracy, human rights, and holding human rights abusers accountable.”
At a press event Tuesday, lawmakers from both parties touted the resolution, which would express the U.S.’s “support for the Iranian people’s desire for a democratic, secular, and nonnuclear Republic of Iran” while also “condemning violations of human rights and state-sponsored terrorism by the Iranian Government.”
“I am very pleased to announce today that over 220 members, Republicans and Democrats alike, have co-sponsored the resolution,” Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), the bill’s lead sponsor, said Tuesday in remarks to reporters, calling the message to the Biden administration on Iran “truly urgent.”
“This resolution expresses self-evident truths, not willful thinking” about Iran’s government, McClintock continued, adding that Iran’s people have stressed their desire for a “secular and representative form of democracy.”
The lawmakers also accused Iran’s government of supporting terrorism throughout the Middle East and attempting operations elsewhere as well, while raising the possibility of “countless” Iranian agents active in the U.S.
“Evidence and recent arrests suggest [the Iranian government] still has countless agents here in the U.S.,” McClintock charged in his remarks.
“We are all familiar with Iran’s support for terrorism. Iran supports the Houthis, Hezbollah and Hamas, and that’s just the terror groups that start with an ‘H,’” quipped Rep. Brad Sherman (Calif.), the lead Democratic co-sponsor of the bill, during his own comments.
Aside from the general statement of support for democratic movements in Iran, the resolution lists a number of incidents and charges of human rights violations allegedly committed by Iran’s government, including the abduction and murder of political activists and journalists.
Iran’s government, the lawmakers added, “arbitrarily and brutally suppressed” ethnic and religious minorities in the country.
“The regime has deprived them of their basic human rights, solely because of their beliefs,” said Sherman.
Soona Samsani, executive director of the Women Freedom Forum, stressed during the event that “when it comes to democracy, human rights and freedom, and when it comes to countering the Iranian regime, bipartisanship is key.”
Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, added that the resolution “demonstrates the representatives’ support for the aspirations of the Iranian people and Resistance for which they have been fighting in the past 40 years.”.
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment on the resolution.
In a statement to The Hill, a spokesperson for the Organization of Iranian American Communities said that the resolution comes at a critical time, as Iran’s government is now at its “weakest point” in recent memory.
“Congress has now spoken in the first 100 days of the Biden Administration with call on the president to stand with the people of Iran and hear their call for a free, democratic and nonnuclear republic Iran, as the organized opposition has gained strength and the regime is at its weakest point,” said Majid Sadeghpour, the group’s political director.