February 15, 2010

Gillibrand Announces Bipartisan Legislation Imposing Targeted Sanctions Against Human Rights Abuses in Iran

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, along witha bipartisan group of Senators, announced their intention to introduce legislation that will impose targeted sanctions against members of the Iranian government responsible for human rights abuses.

The legislation – cosponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Robert Casey (D-PA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), and David Vitter (R-LA) – requires the President to draw up and periodically update a list of names of Iranians who have perpetrated human rights abuses against their fellow Iranian citizens since the June 12, 2009, presidential election. Individuals on this list -- which will be made publicly available -- will then be subject to targeted sanctions, including a visa ban and financial restrictions. The sanctions regime will expire when the President can certify to Congress that Iran has taken tangible steps to end human rights abuses, including the release of all political prisoners.

“The rulers of Iran have no desire to meet their international responsibilities and every desire to use all the tools of violence and repression at their disposal to crush the peaceful aspirations of Iran’s citizens,” said Senator John McCain.  “The United States must lead an international effort to support the human rights of the Iranian people, and to put that effort at the center of our policy toward Iran.  Under this bill, Iranian human rights abusers would be completely cut off from the global reach of the U.S. financial system, and that would send a powerful signal to every country, company, and bank in the world that they should think twice about doing business with the oppressors of the Iranian people.”

“Just as the Iranian government is violating its responsibilities under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, it is likewise in flagrant breach of multiple international agreements it has signed that require it to respect the human rights of its own citizens,” said Senator Lieberman.  “As the Iranian people risk their lives to demand the justice and freedom they deserve in the face of this lawless and oppressive regime, they should know that America is on their side.”

“Our country is at its strongest and its best when we ally ourselves with freedom,” said Senator Bayh. “When we stand on the side of freedom, we send a beacon of hope to those across the world and a message to radicalized Islamic youth that there is a better way than the despotism in Tehran that only retains its grip on power by imprisoning, beating, and killing its own civilians. That is a contrast that we will win.”

"Sanctioning those responsible for human rights violations in Iran is an essential element of the pressure track that must be urgently pursued," said Senator Casey. "This important bill will send a strong message that our dispute is not with the Iranian people but with those in power who seek to repress them.”

“As Americans, it is our duty to send a strong signal that human rights violators will not be able to use the benefits of international recognition,” said Senator Gillibrand.  “The international community is rightfully alarmed watching the violence used against peaceful Iranian protestors. It is time for us in Congress to take a strong stance against the abuses of human rights by Iran's regime and begin denying visas and access to our financial system.” 

“The people taking to the streets in Iran are some of the most courageous in the world, and Congress will continue to reiterate its support for their right to have their voices heard,” said Senator Kaufman.  “We will not sit idly by as the government of Iran continues to deny its people essential freedoms and human rights.  And we will put the Iran – or any government which aims to silence its people – on notice that its behavior is unacceptable to the United States.”