H.Res. 560: Expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law, and for other purposes

H.Res. 560

Expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law, and for other purposes

Date
June 19, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.Res. 560 is being considered under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) on June 18, 2009.

Bill Summary

H.Res. 560 resolves that the House of Representatives:

•  "Expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;

•  "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 cellphones; and

•  "Affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections."

 

Background

This legislation is similar to H.Res. 549, which was introduced earlier this week by 19 Republican Members.


On June 12, 2009, Iranians went to the polls to ostensibly decide their next political leader. Shortly thereafter, the official news agency of Iran announced that incumbent President Mahmoud Admadinejad won the election over his primary opponent, Mir-Hossein Mousavi. However, various media outlets have questioned the authenticity of the announced election results and Mousavi has lodged a legal appeal against the result. In the wake of the election, demonstrators have protested the election results and the BBC reports that the ensuing rally was the largest demonstration in the Islamic Republic's 30-year history. According to media reports, pro-government forces have attacked demonstrators, causing multiple fatalities and injuries in Tehran and elsewhere throughout the country. There has also been widespread media suppression, including cut Internet connections and cell phone service, as well as jammed foreign satellite TV and radio broadcasts and intimidation of journalists.


This crackdown is the latest manifestation of the Iranian government's tyranny. According to the State Department in 2008, Iran's "poor human rights record worsened, and it continued to commit numerous serious abuses...the government severely limited citizens' right to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections...authorities held political prisoners and intensified a crackdown against women's rights reformers, ethnic minority rights activists, student activists, and religious minorities."


Over the course of American history, Presidents have explicitly affirmed support for oppressed peoples during moments of civil upheaval. These words have served to encourage and hearten foreign nationals yearning for liberties enjoyed in the United States. Perhaps the best example of this was President Reagan's 1981 speech to the British Parliament when he said, that the Soviet Union was a country that, "runs against the tide of history by denying human freedom and human dignity to its citizens...Freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few, but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings." More recently, President George W. Bush voiced support for dissidents in Burma, Ukraine, Cuba, and China.