US House backs Iran protesters, slams ‘oppressive regime’

Passed by a vote of 415-2, resolution says House ‘stands with the people of Iran’ and castigates ‘serious human rights abuses’ by Tehran’s rulers

Iranian students protest at the University of Tehran during a demonstration driven by anger over economic problems, in the capital Tehran on December 30, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / STR)
Iranian students protest at the University of Tehran during a demonstration driven by anger over economic problems, in the capital Tehran on December 30, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / STR)

WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly adopted a bipartisan resolution Tuesday supporting the anti-government protestors in Iran and their right to free expression, while condemning Tehran’s for its oppression of its people.

Since the nationwide demonstrations began last month, the Iranian regime has exacted a crackdown. At least 21 people have been killed thus far.

Passed by a vote of 415-2, the resolution said the House “stands with the people of Iran that are engaged in legitimate and peaceful protests against an oppressive, corrupt regime.” It also slammed the Islamic Republic for “serious human rights abuses against the Iranian people.”

US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up as he walks from Marine One upon arrival on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, January 7, 2018, after spending the weekend at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)

The measure comes just three days before US President Donald Trump faces a congressionally mandated deadline to certify whether Iran is in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal forged by his predecessor, former president Barack Obama.

As a candidate, Trump often expressed vehement disapproval of the deal, repeatedly promising to tear it up should he be elected and often calling it the “worst deal ever negotiated.” Since ascending to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, however, he has stepped back from taking such dramatic action.

He has, nevertheless, decertified the deal in the past, when faced with the last deadline, and has asked Congress to unilaterally impose “trigger points” on the deal that will reimpose nuclear-related sanctions should Tehran overstep certain bounds.

Once the protests broke out in earnest, he immediately backed the people driving them, tweeting that the “Iranian government should respect their people’s rights, including their right to express themselves,” and that “the world is watching.”

And last week, the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on five Iranian firms accused of working on an illegal ballistic missile program. White House officials linked the move to the protests.

File: Rep. Ed Royce (R-California) participates in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, Nov. 4, 2015. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images via JTA)

Congressional leaders said Tuesday that the resolution would send the message to the demonstrators that the United States is fully with them as it seeks to change the character of their government.

“With the passage of this resolution, we state that America stands with the Iranian people,” said Rep. Ed Royce, a Republican from California and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

He also intimated that the US needed to adequately communicate to Iranians that sanctions levied on their country are not intended to hurt them, but the regime ruling their lives.

“In standing with the Iranian people, we must explain that they are not the target of our sanctions. US sanctions target the oppressive destabilizing regime, not the people of Iran,” Royce added.

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