Mr. Speaker, the Iranian people are still in the streets calling for the end of the regime. Despite continued violence by the regime’s thugs, they persist in their cries for freedom. Across Iran, in more than 80 cities, thousands of Iranians are saying they have had enough with the corruption and repression of the mullahs.
The free world cannot ignore their calls. America, the beacon of liberty, must stand with the Iranian people as they confront their oppressors. For more than two decades, protests in Iran have grown more and more frequent as the promises of the Islamic revolution have proven false.
The clerics and IRGC thugs have hoarded Iran’s wealth to enrich themselves and support terrorism across the Middle East. The people of Iran know that their nation should be prosperous. They know their country is blessed with abundant resources, a proud history, and population of talented and hardworking people—they should not be struggling to get by. But they know it is the mullahs—not sanctions from the U.S. or the existence of the state of Israel—that starve them and keep them poor.
The Iranian people are not fools who believe the hollow rhetoric of the regime. Even before President Trump rightly chose to abandon the Iran deal, the Iranian people saw no benefit from sanctions relief.
The secret shipments of cash from the Obama administration, the flood of foreign investment, the unfreezing of Iranian foreign assets, none of it reached the average Iranian. And so in late 2017 and into this year, the Iranian people bravely came to the streets again to demand that the regime fall. They shouted ‘‘death to the regime’’ and ‘‘down with the mullahs.’’ And the regime responded, as it has so many times before, with brutality, killing 25 and arresting more than 4,000.
But the Iranian people remain undaunted and have not yielded. The boldness of the protesters who initially took to the streets over the economic hardships quickly inspired others to come forward.
Women threw their required headscarves to the ground in public squares, religious minorities spoke-out about their persecution, workers went on strike, and secularists stormed clerical seminaries. Their motives represented a widerange of grievance against the regime, but they were unified in message: this illegitimate regime must end.
These protests continue to expand as Iranians see their futures diminish under the Supreme Leader and his band of terrorists. There has been an awakening in Iran and we must support it. It is not through bombs or guns that Iran will become free. It will be through the enduring courage and actions of everyday Iranians standing up to the regime thugs.
They are demanding change now and, in growing numbers, putting fear into the hearts of the mullahs and their stooges. We can encourage and amplify their heroism. America has the resources and innovative tools to broadcast Iranians’ messages of hope.
Through our technological edge, the U.S. can help Iranians communicate and provide whatever assistance is requested. We can also ensure that the brutality of the regime is seen by all and that the theocrats become more isolated and punished because of it.
America will never turn its back on people yearning to be free. Whether in Iran or anywhere else. We have learned throughout history that ruthless despots that rule far from our shores still present a threat to us and our ideals.
If we stand silently as they savagely crush dissent within their own country, their ambitions will eventually turn to opponents beyond their borders. The regime in Tehran has already demonstrated this intent by spreading terror throughout the region.
Therefore we must remain committed to the cause of freedom throughout the globe. The terrorists who rule Iran today will meet justice, and we will help the Iranian people deliver it.
And that’s just the way it is.