U.S. Congress New Legislation

By Mahmoud Hakamian

On Thursday April 26, 2018, the US House of Representatives passed H.R.4744 Act --holding the Iranian regime accountable for its brutality—with an overwhelming majority of 410-2.

The bipartisan legislation holds Iranian regime officials accountable for their role in human rights abuses and hostage-taking, and requires imposition of sanctions against them. The bill also condemns and calls for investigations into the 1988 mass executions of 30,000 political prisoners.

Previously passed by the Committee on Foreign Affairs of House of Representatives in March 2018, the legislation now has to pass the Senate and also be signed by the US President to turn into law.

Considering its bipartisan nature and the fact that it’s been passed with an absolute majority, it’s expected that the legislation won’t be faced with any real challenge before being enacted, following which the US President is obliged to submit a report to appropriate congressional committees within 270 days after the bill’s enactment date, determining senior officials of the Iranian regime who are responsible for human rights abuses, according to the criteria described in previous legislations.

Another section of the Act accuses the Iranian regime of hostage-taking and arbitrary detention of US citizens, and has obliged US Foreign Secretary to submit within 120 days after the bill’s enactment date a report containing a strategy to prevent Iranian regime officials from taking such measures. It’s worth mentioning that the bill actually dates back to early January following the nationwide uprising in Iran, when US House of Representatives held a meeting and passed the resolution H.Res.676 in a nearly unanimous vote, supporting Iranian people’s uprising against the oppressive Iranian regime.

Delivering his remarks on the Act on April 23, Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee ‘Ed Royce’ referred to that same resolution and Iranian people’s recent uprising, saying “today, we act to make good on that resolution. The Act requires the administration to impose sanctions on senior officials of the Iranian regime for human rights abuses.”

H.R.4744 Act calls on the US administration to impose sanctions on Iranian regime officials who have committed certain actions against US citizens or Iranian nationals.

The actions and persons subject to these sanctions include:

- Officials who are responsible for or complicit in human rights abuses. Or persons who are engaged in censorship or financial corruption.

- For persons determined to have committed the aforementioned measures, there’ll be such sanctions like being denied of receiving a US visa and seizure of assets.

Before voting on the Act, a number of representatives delivered their remarks, discussing different aspects of regime’s criminal policies and measures, with the most important one being the mass executions of thousands of political prisoners in the summer of 1988.

“As the legislation details, the Iranian regime flagrantly disregards the commitments it’s made to respect the fundamental rights of the Iranian people. Many of us recall mass executions carried out over a four month period in 1988.
Thousands of political prisoners were executed by hanging or firing squad for refusing to renounce their political affiliations,” says one of the representatives.

The speakers maintained that the regime is still moving forward with its crimes, “persecuting ethnic and religious minority groups like Baha’is, Christians, Sufis, Sunnis, and dissident Shiite Muslims. And we all remember how the regime brutally suppressed the peaceful political dissent in 2009, during which the previous US administration embarrassingly remained silent. That was a real opportunity missed by the United States.”

Compared to US Congress’s previous legislations against the Iranian regime, the new Act has the following unique characteristics:

The legislation’s unique feature which makes it different from US Congress’s previous bills against the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses is that for the first time in a binding decision the US administration has been obliged to investigate the massacre of political prisoners in 1988.

The other characteristic is that the legislation maintains that regime’s entire human rights abuses, no matter when and where they took place, will be subject to the Act.

The legislation’s other feature is its coincidence with Iran’s current turbulent social and political situation: the fact that the January uprising showed the reality of Iran to the world; the fact that the regime has no place among Iranian people who are more than eager to overthrow it. And that the regime is still trembling out of the blow it received during the uprising, as it made it clear for everyone that Iran is now an active volcano that could terrifically erupt any moment with the smallest stimulus.

Added to the eruptive state of Iran’s society are the international and regional circumstances that are continuously tightening the noose on the Iranian regime. With only two weeks before the US 120-day deadline for fixing the nuclear deal, the political developments against the regime are accelerating. Such condemnations and human rights sanctions meanwhile join hands with the ones targeting regime’s nuclear and missile programs as well as its regional interventions, thereby tightening the siege around the mullahs more than ever.

It’s clear that the regime is receiving this blow while it’s suffering the highest level of weakness and helplessness. Pointing to this situation, Javadi Amoli, one of regime’s mullahs, has recently warned over hungry people’s uprising, saying “the next time a flood occurs it’ll carry us all as we have nowhere to run.”