It has been said on numerous occasions and by various politicians and pundits that it was an extraordinary week in the life of the nation of Iran. On June 12, from the very moment that the Iranian presidential election results were announced, the international community and the international press questioned the results. The primary reason for our disbelief in the declared result is that millions of paper ballots were collected and counted in mere hours. This occurred even before the extraordinary demonstrations in the street began.
The disbelief on the part of the international community was shared by many Iranian citizens. And while the defeated candidate launched a legal appeal, what ensued on the streets of Tehran, at least according to the BBC, were the largest public demonstrations in the Islamic republic’s 30-year history. It seems that many Iranians have gotten a whiff of freedom and are willing to lay down their lives in the streets of Iran to secure that freedom.
Sadly, as the people have rallied the Iranian government has responded with more violence and oppression, causing numerous fatalities and the arrest of dissidents. We have learned of reporters prevented from making their reports public and the jamming of electronic communications. We may well be witnessing a Tiananmen in Tehran.
I respect that President Obama recognizes the troubling nature of the on-going situation in Iran, but respectfully disagree with where he has drawn the line. I do not believe a strong affirmation of our ideals and engagement with those who oppose our ideals are mutually exclusive. I think it is possible, as President Reagan demonstrated and indeed as it has been demonstrated throughout our history, for the American people to stand up and speak words of encouragement to those who are oppressed while engaging their oppressors.
It seems to me in this moment the American people long to be heard. House Resolution 560, which on Friday passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support, provides the American people an opportunity to do just that.
The resolution, which was introduced in the Senate by Senators McCain and Lieberman, simply states that the House of Representatives condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cell phones. It affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democracy and free elections.
Lastly and most importantly, the resolution expresses our unqualified support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law. I have said many times this week that the cause of America is freedom and in that cause the American people will not be silent. There is no intention here to pick sides in the Iranian election, but to simply stand by those who stand up for freedom.
The intent of this resolution is to demonstrate, in a true spirit of bipartisanship, that the American people continue to be on the side of liberty and freedom.
I am glad that the United States Senate has also passed this important resolution, allowing the American people to speak with one voice in support of human rights and democracy. We have learned throughout our history that when the voice of the American people is heard in defense of democracy and human rights, it can make a difference in the advancement of liberty around the world. I believe in my heart of hearts that this important bipartisan resolution will help do so once more.