Past and current leaders of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom published a bi-partisan letter of support Thursday for the Iranian government protesters.
The current chair of USCIRF, Dr. Daniel Mark, joined with eight of the commission’s past chairs to publish the letter denouncing the Iranian government’s violent response to the protests and to praise the protesters for their continued demonstrations, according to Crux Now. The signees urged the U.S. government and the governments of other nations to lend strong support to the people of Iran and to prioritize the restoration and defense of their liberties.
“Today we write to express solidarity and support for your courageous efforts to restore your nation’s dignity and put an end to the abuses and deprivation that the people of Iran have suffered. We are inspired by your bravery,” The letter reads. “We stand with you and call on our own government and governments and peoples throughout the world to support you.”
Iranian authorities killed 20 protesters and arrested at least 450 others over the past week in response to demonstrations that initially erupted over rising food prices and the overall poor state of the country’s economy. The protests have continued since their beginning on Dec. 28 and turned into an overall protest against widespread corruption in the Iranian government, abuses of authority, foreign interventions, and the government’s suppression of the Iranian people’s liberties.
The signees of the letter of support for the protesters also highlighted ways that both governments and business firms could aid the Iranian people, mainly in ways that would subvert the Iranian government’s attempts at censorship and shutting down social media like Whatsapp.
“Keeping open the corridors of communication through which information flows in all directions is vital. To that end, we call for robust funding by our government of technologies that will provide Iranians and others in closed societies safe and free access to the internet and social media platforms,” the letter reads.
The signees also urged journalists, human rights organizations, embassies and other government authorities to document cases of human rights violations in Iran so as to build awareness and increase international pressure for reforms.
“When Iranians rose up against their oppressors in 2009, too few supported them in a sustained and meaningful way,” the letter added. “Please be assured that in 2018 we are doing everything we can to ensure your freedom.”
The letter was signed by Mark; Elliot Abrams; Preeta Bansal; Felice P. Gaer; Robert P. George; Leonardo Leo; Thomas J. Reese, S.J.; Katrina Lantos Swett; and Ambassador Rabbi David Saperstein.
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