SUPPORTING THE RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE OF IRAN TO FREE EXPRESSION
(Extensions of Remarks - January 10, 2018)

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[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 6 (Wednesday, January 10, 2018)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E28-E29]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




     SUPPORTING THE RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE OF IRAN TO FREE EXPRESSION

                                 ______
                                 

                               speech of

                        HON. SHEILA JACKSON LEE

                                of texas

                    in the house of representatives

                        Tuesday, January 9, 2018

  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my continued 
support for the people of Iran and continued support for freedom of 
speech as it is encapsulated in H. Res. 676, a resolution supporting 
the rights of the people of Iran to free expression and condemning the 
Iranian regime for its crackdown on legitimate protests.
  On Sunday, January 7, 2018, I stood in protest with Iranian-Americans 
on the streets of Houston to take a stand for human rights in Iran.
  At that event, I stated ``It is time for freedom to take over'' and I 
stand by that statement here in Congress and add that separation of 
church and state is essential for a free and democratic Iran.
  On December 28, 2017, popular protests against the Iranian regime 
began in the city of Mashad and rapidly spread throughout the country, 
in the most significant antigovernment protests in Iran since June 
2009.
  The protesters have expressed numerous economic grievances, including 
the regime's widespread corruption and the Revolutionary Guard Corps' 
control of the country's economy.
  Protesters have decried the regime's costly, destabilizing activities 
abroad, including its support for terrorist groups such as Hezbollah 
and the murderous Assad regime in Syria.
  Reports indicate that more than 1,000 Iranians have been arrested and 
almost two dozen killed in connection with the protests.
  The Iranian regime has shut down mobile internet access and has 
blocked and pressured companies to cut off social media applications 
used by activists to organize and publicize the protests.
  Congress has provided authority to license the provision of 
communications technology to Iran to improve the ability of the Iranian 
people to speak freely.
  I encourage the Administration to expedite the license of 
communications technology to Iran to improve the ability of the Iranian 
people to speak freely and I call on companies to reject requests by 
the regime to cut off the Iranian people from social media and other 
communications platforms.
  On January 1, 2018, regime officials threatened to crack down, with 
Brigadier General Esmaeil Kowsari of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps 
stating, ``If this situation continues, the officials will definitely 
make some decisions and at that point this business will be finished.''
  Congress has provided authority to designate and sanction elements of 
the Iranian regime involved in significant corruption and serious human 
rights abuses.
  I urge the Administration to use targeted sanctions and work to 
convene emergency sessions of the United Nations Security Council and 
the United Nations Human Rights Council to condemn the ongoing human 
rights violations perpetrated by the Iranian regime and establish a 
mechanism by which the Security Council can monitor such violations.
  Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Basij militia have been 
sanctioned by the United States for planning and carrying out serious 
human rights abuses against the Iranian people, including for the cruel 
and prolonged torture of political dissidents, behavior that is 
absolutely intolerable.
  The regime has routinely violated the human rights of Iranian 
citizens, including ongoing, systematic, and serious restrictions of 
freedom of peaceful assembly and association and freedom of opinion and 
expression, including the continuing closures of media outlets, arrests 
of journalists, and the censorship of expression in online forums such 
as blogs and websites.
  The Department of State's 2016 Human Rights Report on Iran noted:

       severe restrictions on civil liberties, including the 
     freedoms of assembly, association, speech, religion, and 
     press.
       Other human rights problems included abuse of due process 
     combined with use of capital punishment for crimes that do 
     not meet the requirements of due process, as well as cruel, 
     inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; and disregard 
     for the physical integrity of persons, whom authorities 
     arbitrarily and unlawfully detained, tortured, or killed.

  For a country that once enjoyed great pride in its freedom of 
thought, the information in this Report comes with sadness.
  On December 29, 2017, the Department of State strongly condemned the 
arrest of peaceful protesters and noted that ``Iran's leaders have 
turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an 
economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, 
bloodshed, and chaos.''
  On January 1, 2018, the Secretary of State for Foreign and 
Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, stated that:

       The UK is watching events in Iran closely.
       We believe that there should be meaningful debate about the 
     legitimate and important issues the protesters are raising 
     and we look to the Iranian authorities to permit this.

  On January 2, 2018, the French Foreign Ministry stated that:

       French authorities are closely monitoring the situation in 
     Iran.
       Demonstrating freely is a fundamental right.
       The same is true for the free movement of information.
       France expresses its concern over the large number of 
     victims and arrests.

  On January 1, 2018, a spokesman for the Canadian Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs stated that:

       We call on the Iranian authorities to uphold and respect 
     democratic and human rights and ``We are encouraged by the 
     Iranian people who are bravely exercising their basic right 
     to protest peacefully.
       Canada will continue to support the fundamental rights of 
     the Iranians, including freedom of expression.

  As hypocrisy has it, Iran is a member of the United Nations, voted 
for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is a signatory to

[[Page E29]]

the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, among other 
international human rights treaties.
  In violation of these and other international obligations, Iranian 
regime officials continue to violate the fundamental human rights of 
the Iranian people.
  Today, I rise with my colleagues in Congress to stand with the people 
of Iran that are engaged in legitimate and peaceful protests against an 
oppressive, corrupt regime.
  I rise in support of H. Res. 676 which condemns the Iranian regime's 
serious human rights abuses against the Iranian people, significant 
corruption, and destabilizing activities abroad.
  I call on all democratic governments and institutions to clearly 
support the Iranian people's right to live in a free society.
  I rise to urge the Iranian regime to abide by its international 
obligations with respect to human rights and civil liberties, including 
freedoms of assembly, speech, and press.
  The Iranian regime must do the right thing and respect the proud 
history and rich culture of the Iranian nation.
  The people of Iran want nothing more than to promote the 
establishment of basic freedoms that build the foundation for the 
emergence of a freely elected, open, and democratic political system.
  I whole-heartedly support H. Res. 676 and continue fighting for a 
free Iran.

                          ____________________