The Republican-controlled House is rallying around a resolution that expresses solidarity and support for Iranian protesters who are risking their lives to demonstrate against the hardline regime.
As one of its first legislative efforts on Tuesday, the House is poised to pass the resolution, which commends the "bravery, courage, and resolve of the women and men of Iran demonstrating in more than 133 cities and risking their safety to speak out against the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses," according to a copy of the measure obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Led by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R., N.Y.), the resolution has the initial backing of 34 members, including 22 Democrats. Congressional sources who spoke to the Free Beacon said the resolution was formally introduced on Tuesday and is expected to pass in the coming weeks with broad bipartisan support. The widespread support for the efforts sends a message that Congress is closely watching the protests in Iran and stands with the anti-regime dissidents as they try to topple the hardline government.
"While the Iranian regime continues to violently crack down on peaceful protests and slaughter its own people, Congress must take a clear and unequivocal stance against this brutality," Tenney told the Free Beacon in a statement. "The United States must support and stand alongside the brave Iranians calling for basic human rights and demanding justice for the murder of Mahsa Amini and countless other innocent Iranians." Amini is the 22-year-old woman who sparked the protest movement last year after she was murdered by Iran’s morality policy for improperly wearing her head covering.
The measure is a signal the new Congress wants to track and identify human rights abuses carried out by the Iranian regime so it can pursue further sanctions and other measures in response to the Iranian government’s violent crackdown. In addition to codifying public information on the number of Iranians imprisoned and killed as a result of the protests, the measure urges the Biden administration and international allies "to impose human rights sanctions on officials and entities that are responsible for the repression of current protests and involved in violating the human rights of the Iranian people." It also calls for "transparent accountability for all killings of protesters by Iranian security forces."
It also includes provisions that could help lay the groundwork for the United States to increase efforts aimed at bolstering internet access for Iranians. As the protests continue, Iranian leaders have attempted to shut down the internet and block messaging apps that are helping protesters coordinate. Congress, along with the U.S. State Department, can help "provide support for VPNs and other alternatives that can be used to bypass attempts by authoritarian governments to censor internet access during times of protest," according to the measure.
The resolution calls on the Biden administration to "immediately impose, under existing authorities, additional human rights sanctions on officials and entities responsible for the repression of the current protests."
As the protests stretch into their fourth month, the Iranian government has responded by kidnapping and murdering scores of demonstrators. In the face of this crackdown, protests in more than 133 cities and 130 universities across Iran have included unprecedented public demonstrations, such as "burning hijabs, cutting their hair, and dancing in front of Iranian security forces," according to the congressional resolution.
Iranian security forces have arrested more than 18,000 protesters and killed more than 450, including 58 children, according to the resolution. "The number of injuries and deaths is likely higher but unobtainable due to internet blackouts," it notes.
"We must do all we can to support the Iranian people’s right to self-determination, including by holding accountable those responsible for the violent suppression of peaceful protesters," Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), incoming chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. "The Iranian people must be able to exercise their basic human rights, and we absolutely cannot cut any deals that take pressure off this murderous regime."