“To be free,” the great Nelson Mandela said, “is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” The resistance of Ukrainians and the 40-year struggle against religious fascism in Iran speaks to the timeless nature of the description.
With help being afforded the people of Ukraine and more attention to the plight of 86 million individuals who live under religious tyranny in Iran, human dignity is increasingly being prioritized.
Along with their support for Ukraine, members of the U.S. Congress are participating in functions that promote a non-nuclear and free democratic republic in Iran. For example, 53 members of Congress spoke in a bipartisan event where they showed support for a growing movement for democratic change in Iran. Among them was Lassen County’s Representative Doug LaMalfa.
“I join 250 of my colleagues in cosponsoring H.Res.118. This bipartisan bill will condemn Iran’s state-sponsored terrorism while supporting the Iranian people’s desire for a democratic and nonnuclear Republic of Iran,” LaMalfa said. “(Iran President) Ebrahim Raisi must be removed from office and tried for his decades of crime against humanity.”
Pointing to the explosive situation within Iran and the ruling clerics’ support for terrorism, members urged the U.S. government to recognize the Iranian people’s aspirations for freedom.
In another bipartisan event, many officials, including Senator Bob Menendez, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke up for both the Iranian and Ukrainian people’s inalienable human rights. And Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, recently publicly said, “It is time to tell the Europeans, who(m) we have shown good faith with, that we were willing to enter into what was hopefully a stronger and longer deal, that the Iranians are not there … hope is not a national security strategy.”
Iranian Americans want the resistance in Ukraine and Iran to deter all who empower tyrants – the result of wishful negotiations. In a letter to President Joe Biden, more than 500 prominent Iranian-Americans cautioned against this dangerous presumption.
The regime’s authorities have accepted that democratic opposition to them is a credible threat to their power. And the great support for the organized opposition against tyranny in Iran and the resistance against the Russian occupation of Ukraine seem to point to a better appreciation of the sacrifices freedom demand. The members speaking at the 53-member event pointed out that the prospect of democracy in Iran is bright given its indigenous resistance units. The mullahs blamed them for the nationwide protests of 2018, 2019, and 2021. Iranian people set a statue of deceased terrorist operative Qassem Soleimani ablaze within a day of Iranian tyrants unveiling it. Pro-democracy hacktivists aired messages condemning Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran and the country’s chief dictator. There have been protests over a building collapse that killed 29 people. Other protests took place over an extreme, sudden increase in food costs.
But the Iranian people “need help,” a protester from Shiraz, Iran named Jamshid (last name withheld for security reasons) said. “The West is only focused on the Iran (nuclear) deal. When it comes to Iran, they forget about us. They forget about human rights.”
Whether the free world should support the Iranian and Ukrainian people is a matter of life and death. Their message is for the free world to couple its strong defenses with “soft enough hearts.”
Today, enabling the Iranian people’s efforts to bring about democratic change should be a key consideration in America’s foreign policy strategy. If not, America’s other enemies will continue to partner with ayatollahs in Iran to undermine universal rights.
About Hamid Azimi
Hamid Azimi is the communications director of the Iranian American Community of Northern California, a resident of the region and a member of the Organization of Iranian American Communities.