Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced The Iran Human Rights Accountability Act, which cracks down on Iranian human rights abusers and supports the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people.
Five years ago, thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest the fraudulent re-election of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They were met by bullets and batons, and very few have been held accountable for these human rights abuses used to quash the Green Movement’s efforts to peacefully hold their government accountable. Further, under President Hassan Rouhani, we have seen a systemic crackdown on Iranian citizens - experts estimate that there are around 800 political prisoners, including American citizens, Pastor Saeed Abedini, Robert Levinson and Amir Hekmati.
Since Rouhani has taken office, the U.S. has sanctioned only one Iranian official for human rights violations. Yet, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, President Rouhani and other government officials are directly responsible for and complicit in ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing the commission of serious human rights abuses against the people of Iran.
“The U.S. should strongly support the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, and stand against ongoing systemic human rights violations by the Iranian regime. Just as we cannot stand by as the Iranian regime deceives the world in pursuit of a nuclear weapon, we cannot let Iran’s human rights record, which even the Obama administration has stated is ‘abysmal,’ go unpunished,” Rubio said. “This legislation would take significant steps to require President Obama to hold Iranian leaders and individuals accountable for all human rights violations they have directed or participated in since the 2009 Green Movement protests.”
“While we continue to focus on disarming Iran’s dangerous nuclear program, we cannot forget that Iran is a state-sponsor of terrorism that persecutes their own citizens,” Kirk said. “It’s time to hold Iranian officials accountable for their blatant violation of basic human rights.”
Specifically, this legislation would:
Hold Human Rights Abusers Accountable
- Designate Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, President Rouhani, and other top Iranian leaders as human rights violators, which includes visa bans and asset freezes.
- Expand sanctions to include all those involved in human rights abuses against the Iranian people, not just the leaders.
- Impose new sanctions on individuals who do business with already sanctioned human rights violators.
Support the Democratic Aspirations of the Iranian People
- Establish a “Special Coordinator on Human Rights and Democracy in Iran,” to oversee outreach and assistance programs related to human rights in Iran.
- Authorize no less than $32 million for democracy promotion programs in Iran to be managed and implemented by the Special Coordinator.
- Expand international broadcasting into Iran by authorizing up to $10 million for increased programming.