Wednesday, February 29, 2012
WASHINGTON – In support of the Iranian people, Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and more than 50 senators today introduced a bipartisan resolution calling on the government of Iran to respect universal human rights and hold free, fair and open elections later this week that meet international standards. Hoeven, Blumenthal and Graham recently returned from a senate mission to the Middle East, which they say highlighted the importance of the United States’ supporting the people of the region in their struggle for democratic reforms.
The resolution comes following a history of corrupt elections and repression in the Iranian electoral system. Reports in recent weeks have detailed government harassment and the detention of journalists and dissidents, as well as censorship and limitations on public access to the Internet ahead of scheduled parliamentary elections later this week. As they did in a previous national election, the Iranian Council of Guardians, a group appointed in part by the country’s lead cleric, has already disqualified more than 2,000 candidates. Distrust of the system has prompted nearly 40 prominent Iranian political prisoners and several domestic Iranian reform groups to call for a boycott of the upcoming election.
The senate resolution introduced today calls for an end to “arbitrary detention, torture, and other forms of harassment against media professionals, human rights defenders and activists, and opposition figures, and releasing all individuals detained for exercising universally recognized human rights; lifting legislative restrictions on freedoms of assembly, association, and expression; and allowing the Internet to remain free and open and allowing domestic and international media to operate freely.” The resolution further calls on Iranian officials “to allow international election monitors to be present for the March 2, 2012, elections.
Iran last held national elections in June of 2009, which were widely condemned, both within the country and around the world, to be corrupt and manipulated by the government. The process was marred by disqualification of candidates based on their political views, the absence of credible international observers and severe restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, and
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