Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed the Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act (H.R. 4744). The bipartisan legislation shines a light on the Iranian regime’s long record of human rights abuses and hostage-taking. It also mandates sanctions on Iranian officials responsible for wrongful, politically motivated jailing of U.S. citizens.
On the House floor earlier this week, Chairman Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):
“In January, this body came together – in a near unanimous vote – to support the Iranian people who were engaged in legitimate protests against an oppressive regime.
At the time, tens of thousands of Iranians had taken to the streets in the largest demonstrations since the Green Revolution of 2009. The protests, aimed at economic stagnation, widespread corruption and the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ control of the economy, quickly spread across Iran as people sought to exercise the fundamental right of freedom of expression. Many demonstrators shouted slogans aimed at Iran’s costly support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and terrorist groups such as Hezbollah.
Predictably, the Iranian regime moved swiftly to quash the demonstrations and throttle social media. More than one thousand Iranians were jailed and dozens were killed. H. Res. 676 condemned this brutal violence and called for targeted sanctions to hold the regime to account.
Today, we act to make good on that call. The bill before us, H.R. 4744, requires the administration to determine whether senior Iranian officials should be sanctioned for human rights abuses. It also requires determinations on whether Iranian businesses should be sanctioned for public corruption. And it mandates sanctions on those officials responsible for Iran’s wrongful, politically motivated jailing of U.S. citizens.
Mr. Speaker, for years, the regime in Tehran has systemically beat down all opposition in Iran. It regularly uses brutal tactics at home, including torture and mass executions, as it seeks to export violence and radical ideology abroad. Ever since its 1979 revolution, Iran has been a rogue state.
As this legislation details, today the regime flagrantly disregards commitments it’s made to respect the fundamental rights of the Iranian people. Many of us recall the barbaric mass executions carried out over a four-month period in 1988. Thousands of political prisoners were executed by hanging and firing squad for refusing to renounce their political affiliations.
Today, the regime still persecutes ethnic and religious minority groups, such as the Baha’is, Christians, Sufi, Sunni and dissenting Shi’a Muslims. And we all remember the way the ayatollah brutally suppressed the peaceful political dissent during the Green Revolution – during which the previous U.S. administration remained embarrassingly silent. This was a real opportunity missed by the United States.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Chairman McCaul and Ranking Member Engel for their leadership on this legislation. I am glad we have strong, bipartisan support for this measure. Regardless of how one views the Iran nuclear agreement, it is critical that the United States and our allies continue to press Iran for its dangerous and threatening acts that fall outside of the JCPOA. This is an area where officials from both the Trump and Obama administrations agree, and for good reason.
Remember, this is the same Iranian regime that is holding American citizens – including one who is in very poor health – on sham charges in one of the largest ransom schemes ever devised. This regime, of course, held its first American hostages in 1979 when it overran our U.S. Embassy. The regime’s M.O. remains the same.
It is far past time the regime faced consequences for its attacks on Iranians and Americans alike.”