Senate Policy Briefing on Iran
Senator Shaheen (D-NH)
Senate Persian New Year March 2021
Happy new year.
I want to thank the organization of Iranian American communities for inviting me to join the celebration of no ruse. A lot has changed since we last saw each other in March of 2020, COVID-19 has forced us to adjust our way of life and find new ways to connect with each other. But many things have stayed the same. And that includes the continued fight for a responsive and just government in Tehran because now more than ever respect for democracy and human rights must be a cornerstone of American foreign policy around the world.
We’ve seen leaders use the pandemic as an excuse to chip away at democratic rights and norms. The group gathered virtually today knows all too well the dangers of a government that is not responsive to the will of its people and firmly committed to human rights. In recent months, authorities in Iran have relied on internet blackouts to curb street protests. They use this authoritarian tool to limit gatherings, to clamp down on information and prevent transparency. And earlier this month on international women’s day, the UN released a report on human rights in Iran. It painted a very bleak picture. Women and girls in Iran continue to be treated as second-class citizens.
Human rights advocates, ethnic minorities, journalists, and people with dual nationalities are targeted by the regime. They face abuse, torture, arbitrary, detention, harassment, and even death. This is unacceptable behavior from any government us foreign policy must draw contrast with these actions. It’s necessary that we support nascent democracies, that we bolster human rights and prioritize democratic movements and oppressive countries. So this Nowrouz we recommit to democracy and human rights at home and around the world. Thank you for your continued hard work and support of a free and democratic Iran and happy new year.