Pence Stands With Iranian Dissidents

Today Congressman Mike Pence – a member of the House Republican Leadership – introduced a resolution to make clear that the US supports the brave dissidents who are risking their lives for democracy in Iran.

This ought to be a no-brainer. The United States has helped make the world’s most dangerous hot spot somewhat safer by supporting democracy in the Middle East. As Moe has pointed out, the emergence of a democracy in Iraq has encouraged other nations to demand the right to choose their own leaders. The world can only become safer if the people of Iran win their fight to choose the man who replaces Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Pence’s resolution says:

Whereas the United States supports the right of the citizens of Iran to have free and independent elections for the selection of their political leaders;

Whereas Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘‘(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives; (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country; (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures’’;

Whereas, according to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2008, Iran’s ‘‘poor human rights record worsened, and it continued to commit numerous serious abuses. . .the government severely limited citizens’ right to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections. . .authorities held political prisoners and intensified a crackdown against women’s rights reformers, ethnic minority rights activists, student activists, and religious minorities’’;

Whereas Iran’s system of government violates numerous international norms and principles of democratic governance;

Whereas, on June 12, 2009, Iran engaged in the process of selecting that country’s new political leader;

Whereas the ensuing announcement by Iranian authorities of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s ‘‘overwhelming victory’’ has sent Iranians into the streets since June 12, 2009, and has prompted unprecedented criticism of Iran’s ruling leaders;

Whereas in the streets of Tehran and other major cities, riot police, members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Basij militias are cracking down on demonstrators who were protesting the results;

Whereas the government has cut Internet connections and cellphone service and jammed foreign satellite TV and radio broadcasts;

Whereas most foreign journalists in Iran to cover the June 12, 2009, selection process were reportedly expelled after the voting ended;

Whereas news websites were reportedly blocked by Iranian authorities and the Iranian Government has reportedly arrested opposition political figures and journalists;

Whereas the Iranian Government outlawed any protest following two days of unrest, with the Interior Ministry warning that ‘‘any disrupter of public security would be dealt with according to the law’’; and

Whereas the Government of Iran, pro-government militias, and affiliated entities have attacked demonstrators, causing multiple injuries and fatalities:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who struggle for freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and the protection of the rule of law;

(2) condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran, pro-government militias, and affiliated entities against the people of Iran, which has escalated since the June 12, 2009, process of selecting Iran’s next political leader; and

(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections.