Washington, D.C. — Today, the MAHSA Act has finally passed in the House of Representatives with 410 votes of support! Coinciding with the week of the one year anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death, this win comes after months of advocacy by the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), Iranian American constituents throughout the country, and a number of other dedicated Iranian American organizations. Now, to continue to honor Mahsa Amini and the brave Iranian people, we must collectively turn our efforts toward the Senate where the bill must also pass before it can be signed into law.
What is the MAHSA Act?
The Mahsa Amini Human rights and Security Accountability Act or “MAHSA Act” (H.R. 589) was originally introduced in the 117th Congress after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Iranian state custody sparked massive demonstrations across the world. The Woman, Life, Freedom movement, as it has since been termed, is being hailed as the first women-led revolution in modern history. Unsurprisingly, the protests have been met with brutal backlash from the Islamic Republic as the regime continues to imprison and execute peaceful demonstrators, suppress free speech, limit internet access, and implement zero-tolerance policies for those who continue to protest government oppression by removing their hijabs.
The MAHSA Act is intended to not only show support for the protesters in Iran but also to hold Iranian officials accountable for the human rights abuses they’ve committed in an attempt to silence them. The bill was reintroduced in January during the 118th Congress and has since garnered 128 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and broad support from the Iranian American community. If passed in both chambers, it will codify sanctions on the Supreme Leader of Iran, the President of Iran, and the offices they oversee for their horrific track record of human rights abuses and support for terrorism. Specifically, the legislation requires the Executive Branch to determine sanctions on these offices under existing executive orders (E.O. 13876, 13553, 13818, and 13224) and section 105(c) 17 of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010. Furthermore, it includes visa bans pursuant to 7031(c) of FY2021 Appropriations.
What do we do now?
The Woman, Life, Freedom movement has lit a fire of hope in both Iranian Americans and the Iranian people. Here in the U.S., we have seen the Iranian diaspora show up in large numbers to amplify the voices of the protesters in Iran, the families of those imprisoned, and the unrelenting call for freedom in Iran. PAAIA is filled with gratitude for the many individuals and organizations who have worked alongside us and independently to build support for the MAHSA Act. Through our combined efforts as a community, we were able to successfully see its passage in the House, and now it is time to work together to achieve the same results in the Senate.
We encourage you to visit the offices of your Senators to let them know the importance of this bill and what it means to you. PAAIA’s also created an action alert that allows you to directly email your Senators about the MAHSA Act with just a few clicks. We’ve come far, but we can’t let the momentum decline now.
PAAIA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonreligious organization that serves the interests of Iranian Americans and represents the community before U.S. policymakers and the American public at large.