Iran’s stated determination to expand its nuclear program; its launch of ballistic missiles; its continuing support for terrorist proxies and the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad; and its reported negotiations with its totalitarian ally, China, to forge a 25-year “strategic partnership” have raised alarms around the world.
But what also must be remembered in the list of concerns over the Iranian regime’s malign activities is the suffering the government is inflicting on the Iranian people.
The New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran reported recently that prominent women’s and student rights activist Bahareh Hedayat has been sentenced to four years and eight months in prison.
She was charged with the spurious crimes of “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state” after participating in a peaceful protest in Tehran following the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the IRGC, in January 2020. In a tweet, Ms. Hedayat compared the deaths of the 176 people killed in the crash to the hundreds of Iranians killed by state security forces when anti-government protests broke out throughout the country in November 2019.
Ms. Hedayat, who has already spent more than six years in prison for peaceful civil rights activities, is not alone in facing punishment by the regime for protesting the downing of the Ukrainian aircraft, a tragedy for which no one has been held criminally responsible.
Dozens of other Iranians have also received prison sentences and, in some cases, lashes, for daring to raise their voices against the role played by the IRGC in the tragedy.
The United States has not forgotten the suffering of the Iranian people, including Bahareh Hedayat and other protesters, as they attempt to exercise their fundamental human rights. The United States continues to call out the regime on its rights violations; it continues to sanction government officials, including ministers, judges, law enforcement and military leaders who repress dissent. And it continues its campaign of maximum pressure to deprive the regime of resources to pursue its malevolent behavior outside -– and inside -- Iran.
As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said, “We make it clear that the world is watching, and as the regime continues to make its own people the longest-suffering victims, we will not stand silent...The United States…will support the long-ignored voice of the Iranian people.”