November 21, 2014, Washington, D.C. – On November 19, 2014, the House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution by unanimous consent condemning the Government of Iran for its gross human rights violations.
The resolution was introduced last Friday by Representatives Ed Royce (R-39th/CA) and Eliot Engel (D-16th/NY) whom respectively serve as the chair and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Amongst other measures, the resolution calls on the Government of Iran to abide by all of its international and domestic obligations with respect to human rights and civil liberties, including freedoms of assembly, speech, and the press. It urges the administration to increase the utilization of all available authorities to impose sanctions on human rights violators in Iran and to ensure that the human rights situation in Iran is part of multilateral and bilateral discussions with Iran whenever possible.
During the floor proceedings, Royce explained that the resolution stands for the principle that U.S. foreign policy can and must pursue strategic objectives like the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program while promoting the importance of democracy and human rights.
Representative Chris Smith (R-4th/NJ) turned the attention to Iranian Americans detained in Iran by calling on the president to play a more active role in securing the release of Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, and Jason Rezaian.
Representative Keith Ellison (D-5th /MN) stated that while he would be supportive of the legislation, he was concerned about its impact on the nuclear negotiations with Iran. “I have to ask the question: Is this the most well-timed time for this resolution? I do worry that we could undermine the negotiations, but the four corners of this resolution are right, so I am a “yes” vote.” Ellison went on to note that, in his opinion, the best way to improve the human rights situation in Iran would be to reach a nuclear settlement. “The best way to empower human rights leaders within Iran is to engage, not isolate,” Ellison said.
In response to Ellison’s question, Royce explained that one of the reasons for the timing of the resolution is based on the recent passage of legislation in the Iranian parliament that would protect individuals who carry out acid attacks against women to enforce the Islamic dress code. “I had a conversation a little over a week ago with a group of Iranian American women about their experiences in Iran and their reaction to this parliamentary act and their reaction to the acid attacks which are increasing in number to a truly alarming percentage,” said Royce. “There have been over a dozen of these now. So that is why the timing of the legislation.”
Click here to read a transcript of the floor proceedings on H.RES754.