April 11, 2013, Washington D.C. – The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), along with a number of other Iranian American organizations, submitted a letter to President Obama on Thursday. In the letter, the coalition of organizations urged Obama to take appropriate action to enable humanitarian and reconstruction assistance for the victims of the recent earthquake in southwestern Iran. The coalition commended previous instances where the administration has issued a general license temporarily authorizing charitable organizations to provide direct humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to the Iranian people: in 2012, when two earthquakes struck northwestern Iran, and in 2003, when an earthquake struck the Iranian city of Bam.
The coalition asked that the Obama administration again take appropriate action to issue a general license, and take any additional measures necessary to ensure that relief efforts are not impeded by U.S. sanctions.
On Tuesday, April 9, 2013, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the southwestern area of Iran. The initial earthquake struck approximately 90 km (60 miles) southeast of the city of Bushehr. The earthquake has left about 37 people dead, more than 950 people injured, and nearly 800 houses destroyed or damaged.
The above referenced coalition includes PAAIA, the Child Foundation, Children of Persia, Havaar-Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions, and State Repression, the HAND Foundation, the Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB), the Iranian American Bar Association (IABA), the IMAN Foundation, the Keep Children in School Foundation, Moms Against Poverty, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Pars Equality Center, United for Iran, and the West Asia Council.
The full text of the letter is below:
April 11, 2013
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
On Tuesday, April 9, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Bushehr, Iran, reportedly killing at least 37 people, injuring at least 850 more, and destroying over 700 homes. In the aftermath of this disaster, we write to urge that the White House, in coordination with the Department of Treasury and Department of State, take appropriate action to enable humanitarian and reconstruction assistance and ensure that U.S. sanctions on Iran do not in any way impede relief efforts.
We greatly appreciated your Administration’s efforts last year when two earthquakes struck northwest Iran. The White House, Treasury Department, and State Department took action to issue a General License temporarily authorizing charitable organizations to provide direct humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to the Iranian people despite sanctions. Similarly, when an earthquake struck Bam, Iran, in 2003, the Bush Administration issued a General License to help enable relief organizations to work in Iran and support recovery efforts. We strongly supported these efforts and hope that you will once again take appropriate action to issue a General License and take any additional measures necessary to ensure relief efforts are not impeded by U.S. sanctions.
Enabling the American people to help the Iranian people will support relief efforts and demonstrate that disputes between governments should never interfere with humanitarian needs and goodwill among people. We strongly encourage that you take appropriate action and our organizations stand ready to help with any such effort.
Children of Persia
The HAND Foundation
Iranian Alliances Across Borders
Iranian American Bar Association
Keep Children in School Foundation
Moms Against Poverty
National Iranian American Council
Pars Equality Center
Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans
United For Iran
West Asia Council
cc: Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew
Secretary of State John Kerry