Washington, DC – On Thursday November 17, 2022, Organization of Iranian American Communities (OIAC) held a Briefing in the U.S. House of Representatives during which bipartisan members of Congress, former Iran political prisoners, and women’s rights activists expressed unequivocal support for the unfolding revolution for democratic republic in Iran.
Part of its weeks long campaign aimed at elevating the voice of pro-democracy protesters, the event featured passionate bipartisan calls for the United States Government to recognize the Iranian people’s right to self determination and self-defense.
Addressing the US House Representatives, Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the parliament-in-exile National Council of Resistance of Iran, said in her remarks, “The American Declaration of Independence states that whenever a government becomes destructive of its citizens’ rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, it is the People’s Right to alter or abolish it and to institute a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles.”
In her remarks, Congresswoman Shiela Jackson-Lee (D-TX) said, “we know that the freedom of Iran is on the lips of every single member of Congress. It is not a partisan issue. We demand democracy. We stand as democrats.” Referencing OIAC photo exhibition on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol and the images of the freedom fighters killed by the clerical regime in Iran, Rep. Jackson-Lee added, “As I drove in this morning, as Steve Cohen (D-TN) drove in, as Judy Chu (D-CA) drove in, we could not miss the accounting of those innocent heroes on the lawn who had lost their life to the brutality of the mullahs and each succeeding leader while the brave Madame Rajavi, the President of Iranian Resistance, stood in Paris, holding up their bloodstained banner but saying, “I will never give up.”
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) said in his remarks, “Bipartisan members of Congress who have sponsored H.Res.118,..by cosponsoring this resolution, a bipartisan majority of the House has declared its judgment that the regime in Tehran is illegitimate and dangerous to the cause of peace and freedom.” Our trust is placed not in the ayatollahs, he said, “but rather in the Iranian people. My fellow colleagues and I believe that the people of Iran are engaged in a just and righteous cause and we are proud to stand with them.” In referencing former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo visit to Iranian resistance headquarters in Albania, Rep. McClintock added, “Our national security, the peace and stability of the entire region and above all, the Iranian people’s right to freedom and democracy demand that Congress stand behind the opposition and that this administration speak out and act in their support.”
A senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) said, “I stand today with the brave Iranian women and men risking their lives to fight for this future across Iran and I stand with so many advocates for women’s rights including Madame Rajavi, who have risked their lives. And somehow I always knew that if we were going to bring democracy to Iran, it was going to be the women who would do it.” He pointed to the continuity of the protests now, in its third month and said, “These brave activists have repeated the call daily in the streets. This is not a protest. This is a revolution.”
In his remarks, Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) said, “I want to commend you. The display that you have on the Capitol grounds. The American people need to see that. And so I’m just so hopeful that there’s proper coverage of that in every way.”
Congressman Randy Weber (R-TX) alluded to women’s role in the ongoing protests and said, “The Iranian women want nothing less than the overthrow of a brutal regime and the world should support them and the United States should lead the way.” He spoke of more than 40 years of women leadership in the ranks of the Iranian opposition and noted, “And speaking of women, don’t y’all love what Mrs. Maryam Rajavi’s doing? Don’t you love that? My gosh. I’ve been able to Zoom meet with her and talk to her and follow her and listen to her.”
Addressing the life and death struggle protesters in Iran are engaged in, Mr. Weber then added, “The Universal Declarations of Human Rights should apply to Iran and all people. Would y’all agree? Would y’all agree? It’s okay to clap. I’m just messing with y’all. You betcha. In America through the founding fathers’ vision, of course we have the second amendment, we have the right to keep and bear arms and to defend ourselves.”
In introducing himself, Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) noted, “I am a co-chair of the Congressional Iran Human Rights and Democracy Congress and the co-chair of the Helsinki Commission and I was appointed this year as a special representative of the OSCE on Political Prisoners.” He then said, “Freedom is so important and the young women and others in Iran are showing that they will stand for it. They will resist, they have resisted, they are heroes, and I admire them greatly and I feel for them.”
Speaking about the bipartisan support for a democratic republic in Iran, Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) noted, “Mr. McClintock, he’s a republican. I’m a democrat. We don’t often agree on a lot. But we agree on this.” He then added, “We are your allies in terms of freedom. Our hearts break for the people and the way they’re being treated but we also know that it’s a struggle that’s righteous and we can’t win it for them, but we can speak for them, and we’ll continue to do that. They have a right to defend themselves.”
Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) spoke of the bravery of the protesters as well as regime’s brutal suppression and said, “They’ve targeted students and other youth who have formed the core of the protest movement. And from here in the United States from the halls of Congress, the idea that there are students in the streets who believe that by being out there, by risking their lives, their own safety, and their security, that they can make change in the country they love and the country they want to make better is incredibly inspiring.” Also a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Spanberger said, “I wanted to express my steadfast support and commend the bravery, the courage, the resolve of these young women and men as they demand their basic freedoms and stand up to the regime in the face of appalling intimidation, violence, and detentions.”
Referencing the brave women in Iran, Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) said, “I want to encourage the young people and the women who are standing up in Iran and perhaps watching this. I know it is difficult and scary, but we support you in the United States as members of Congress.” He then added, “We support the 10-Point Plan that Madam Rajavi has put out. And no matter your position, if you are involved in your organization or just a pro-democracy Iranian, I don’t know why you would have a problem with the 10-Point Plan. It is not specific to your organization. It is pro-democracy for all and no matter your political persuasion back in Iran.”
Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) who had earlier introduced representatives Jackson-Lee and Cohen concurred with the statements of her aforementioned colleagues.
Mrs. Mitra Samani and Mrs. Mina Entezari, both former political prisoners in Iran, spoke passionately about the atrocious conditions in Iranian regime prisons and urged the United States to hold regime leaders accountable for ongoing crimes against humanity. Mr. Ryan Nasir of the OIAC Youth Chapter also addressed the briefing. The event was moderated by Ms. Sadaf Mirzaei.
On September 16, 2022, a new wave of anti-regime protests broke out in Iran. In its third month, the continuity of the unrest in over 200 cities and all 31 provinces, key universities, and even high schools is unprecedented. More than 550 people have been killed, including at least 32 children. Over 25,000 have been arrested, face torture and possible execution. The message of the protesters to the world is focused on the overthrow of the regime. The most universal slogans are “Death to dictator, death to Khamenei,” and “Death to the oppressor, be it the Shah or the Leader [Khamenei].”