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Chairman Berman's Remarks On H.Res. 560, Expressing Support For All Iranian Citizens Who Embrace The Values Of Freedom, Human Rights, Civil Liberties And Rule Of Law

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. Speaker, every day since Iran's election, the streets of Tehran have been filled with demonstrators, and each day this past week, the number seems to be growing.

Even state-run media in Iran has put the number of demonstrators in Tehran at "hundreds of thousands." One British newspaper reports that there were a million demonstrators in Tehran yesterday.

What do these demonstrators want? Are they simply in favor of the candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi? Or are they making a more profound statement about the Iranian regime?

Nobody knows exactly. We do know one thing, though: The demonstrators feel their intelligence was insulted and their dignity assaulted by the high-handed manner in which the results of the June 12 election were handled. They want justice - this morning, the Supreme Leader offered none.

It is not for us to decide who should run Iran, much less determine the real winner of the June 12th election.

But we must reaffirm our strong belief that the Iranian people have a fundamental right to express their views about the future of their country freely, and without intimidation.

The Iranian regime is clearly embarrassed by the demonstrations and has not shrunk from using violence to stop them. At least eight demonstrators - and quite likely, a number more - have been killed and hundreds have been injured.

The Regime has also tried to ban media coverage of the demonstrations. Foreign journalists are consigned to their homes and offices; several have been expelled from the country.

Cell-phone coverage has been frequently blocked in order to limit communication among the protestors. And the regime has interfered with the Internet and taken down many opposition Web sites.

We cannot stand silent in the face of this assault on human freedom and dignity.

I repeat that we have no interest in interfering in Iran's internal affairs. That era has ended.

This resolution "affirms the universality of individual rights," as well as "the importance of democratic and fair elections." Beyond that, it simply expresses its solidarity with "Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law."

I don't know how many of the demonstrators fall into that category, but I do know that many of them do.

This resolution also condemns the bloody suppression of freedom.

It is not a judgment on who won the Iranian elections. It is an acknowledgement that we cannot remain silent when cherished, universal principles are under attack.

Mr. Speaker, I want to just offer my appreciation to our ranking member and to the gentleman from Indiana for working together on a resolution which puts the House of Representatives on the side of the people of Iran. And with that, I ask my colleagues to join me in supporting this resolution.


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