The European Parliament recently witnessed 270 of its members issue a strongly worded statement lashing out and condemning the regime in Iran for its continuous and horrendous trend of human rights violations in contrast to preposterous claims of reforms and adopting a new approach. The statement encourages and rightfully demands the European Union and all Western governments “to condition any further relations with Iran to a clear progress on human rights and a halt to executions.”
As Congress is known for its deep respect for human rights values, it can send a strong, bipartisan message by taking a similar stance against Iran and remind the mullahs sitting on the throne in Tehran that the utterly flawed nuclear agreement pursued by the Obama administration will never overshadow their disastrous human rights dossier, support for terrorism and meddling in other countries.
Today the regime in Iran is the world’s No. 1 ranking executioner per capita, including juveniles and women. The mullahs have been designated by the U.S. State Department as the leading state sponsor of international terrorism in this day and age. The number of hangings have skyrocketed in the past few years under the tenure of the smiling, “moderate” president Hassan Rouhani. In 2015 alone the world witnessed in all-out shock how the mullahs sent nearly 1,000 people to the gallows, as reported by Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, adding last year marked Iran’s highest number of executions in nearly 30 years.
Escalating domestic crackdown has been yet another hallmark of the Rouhani presidency, as “morality” police and the notorious Revolutionary Guards have increased their measures in Tehran and other major cities across the country. Their aim is to uproot and inflict severe punishment on any and all forms of nonconformity and refusal to abide by the regime’s oppressive laws under the banner of Islam, including the mandatory hijab, or veiling, for women and penal measures against labor unions and any effort to stage peaceful rallies. This clearly shows how Tehran is completely terrified of even the slightest voice of protest that may spark a chain reaction leading to nationwide protests and uprisings, the likes of which witnessed in 2009.
Iran is also known for its relentless sponsoring and support for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in his ruthless campaign against his own people. Iran has become most definitely evolved into the main problem in Syria, and anything but the solution to this devastating war. Reports are indicating atrocious numbers of half a million dead after five years of carnage in this once beautiful nation of the Middle East.
Iraq is yet another canvas where Iran’s fingerprints are witnessed ever more as the international community continues to unfortunately neglect this very dangerous flashpoint corner of the globe. Iran-crafted and sponsored Shiite militia groups are once again accused by international human rights organizations of pursuing systematic and sectarian killings and human rights violations targeting the minority Sunni community in the recent campaign to retake the city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, from Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the self-proclaimed Islamic State, ISIS or ISIL). This ultimately further marginalizes and alienates the Sunnis, and further pushes them into adopting extremist methods and welcoming radical groups.
As Iran enjoys a slate of sanctions reliefs and various opportunities following the nuclear deal with the P5+1, a slate of E.U. members have rushed into sending and welcoming political and economic delegations to and from Iran. Europe should not lose sight of the preconditions that must be placed before the mullahs’ regime prior to any investment in Iran. Congress has been trekking this path very carefully and is deeply devoted to denying Iran access to the U.S. financial system.
U.S. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior Western officials have correctly reminded that there is no doubt Iran will be funneling most of the relief billions directly to terrorist groups already wreaking havoc across the region.
To provide an alternative, the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) will be hosting a rally on July 9 where over 100,000 Iranians from across the globe and hundreds of politicians, parliamentarians, and members of the Congress from the United States, Europe and the Middle East will gather and voice major protests to the mullahs’ rule in Iran. They will all join this event in reassuring the people in Iran they enjoy support in the West for their struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights.
Iran’s human rights dossier is of major importance for the entire international community and the West has a significant responsibility to take a rightful stance and address this matter. This is where Congress can rise to the occasion.
The essential values cherished by today’s free world should be reason enough for lawmakers across the globe to call on their respectful governments to demand Iran make significant improvements regarding its human rights record if it seeks any trade relations with the outside world. Congress can lead the world in responding to this dire situation.