WASHINGTON – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) submitted the following statement for the Senate record after Senate Republicans’ today refused to lift their objections to S.Con.Res 47. The resolution, which was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sought to elevate the United States’ support for the thousands of Iranian citizens who have taken to the streets in peaceful protest for their fundamental human rights, and to condemn the Iranian regime for its violent response. Below are Chairman Menendez’s remarks as submitted for the Senate record:
Zan. Zendegi. Azadi.
Jin, Jiyan, Azadi.
‘Women, life, freedom.’
These words of protest have echoed through Iran’s streets, and across the world, for four months.
Because four months ago, the Iranian Morality Police arrested Mahsa Amini at a highway entrance in Tehran.
Their charge? Not wearing her hijab ‘properly.’
They stopped her.
They forced her into their van.
They beat this 22 year-old woman until she was brain dead.
And when word of her death got out, the chanting and protests began.
I rise today to express my profound disappointment that the Senate has failed to pass Senate Concurrent Resolution 47—which commends the bravery of these Iranian protestors who have stood their ground against the Iranian regime for over 100 days. And counting.
We have seen women defiantly burn their hijabs and cut off their hair in public.
We have seen Iranian soccer players on the global stage at the World Cup risk everything to stand in solidarity with their brothers and sisters back home.
We have seen famous Iranian actors and actresses, singers and other popular figures, refuse to back down even as the regime has arrested them. Like Amir Nasr-Azadani. Taraneh Alidoosti. Toomaj Salehi. Mona Borzouee. Mahmoud Shariari. And so many others that I could name.
We have seen ordinary Iranians of all walks of life risk imprisonment and death to gather in squares and march through the streets to confront the misogyny of this regime. Too many to name here. But we must remember their names.
How has the Iranian regime responded?
With tear gas, with torture, with live gunfire and death. They have killed hundreds of protestors and arrested tens of thousands more.
As someone who has been closely following the Iranian regime for over three decades since my time as a Representative in the House, their actions don’t come as a surprise.
We all know how brutal the Iranian regime has been both at home and abroad.
We see it with Iranian drones that are killing Ukrainians.
We see it in the missiles aimed at our Gulf partners and Americans in the region. In the threats to wipe Israel off the map.
We see it in the assassination attempts on former U.S. officials.
For decades the Iranian regime has repressed and tortured anyone who opposes them. They have massacred innocent political prisoners.
And now—on full display across social media—we’re seeing how ruthless and desperate they are to keep their grip on power.
The only difference between their violent actions in the past and those unfolding this year, is that despite the internet shutdowns, today the world is watching the events unfold in real time.
According to the organization Iranian Human Rights, the regime has killed over 600 people, including dozens of minors, and detained at least 18,500 people since protests began in September.
Eighteen thousand. That’s about the same as the population of Weehawken, New Jersey.
In less than one week, the Iranian regime hanged two protestors without due process after sham trials alleged they ‘waged war against God.’ Majidreza Rhanavard, and Mohsen Shekari. They both were 23.
The regime has sentenced at least 11 others to death—the majority of them in their 20s.
Reports suggest at least 30 others are facing sham charges that could carry the death penalty as well.
The world sees clearly the depravity of this regime.
That’s due to the incredible bravery of the Iranians who are speaking out. And we need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them.
Because contrary to what some may say, it’s not American meddling in internal Iranian politics to support the Iranian protestors.
It’s not American meddling when we raise up Iranian voices.
These are voices coming from those inside Iran who are risking everything to pursue their basic human rights. When they know they are putting it all on the line.
They know the nature of the regime they confront. And they go out into the streets anyway. They do it today, even as the regime shuts down internet access inside the country, so the world cannot see.
But the United States and the international community cannot be silent in the face of their courage. We cannot look away.
Speaking up when we see the spilling of protesters’ blood, is the very least we must do.
And that’s why I rise today to express deep disappointment that my colleagues did not join me in passing Senate Concurrent Resolution 47.
The resolution calls on the international community and the private sector to look for every opportunity to support the protesters.
It calls for cooperation to hold the regime accountable as it represses, detains, and murders its citizens.
This resolution is not controversial. Indeed, it is the minimum message that the U.S. Congress should be sending.
But we all need to do more.
That’s why I introduced this resolution to amplify the voices of Iranian protestors around the world using social media and other technologies, as well as American surrogate networks.
It’s why I think the United States needs be raising this issue in every international forum—as we have successfully done in the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
But we should not stop there.
We should be using the tools we have to help circumvent the regime’s efforts to jam communications of its own people.
And we should invoke the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and other provisions against those who are perpetrating these heinous acts.
No one should underestimate the deep and real grievances of Iranian protestors.
Their chants against the Iranian regime reflect decades of pent-up frustration.
That sense of desperate longing for the kinds of things many of us take for granted, comes through in the viral protest song, ‘Baraye’ by Shervin Hajipour.
A musician that the Iranian regime also has detained.
The Iranian protestors’ demands for justice and fundamental rights are inspirational. Especially in the face of the Iranian regime’s response.
All they want is to live life in peace and prosperity.
So let’s keep standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the protesters as they stand up to the regime’s human rights violations and violence.
Let’s help them keep fighting against the senseless repression of women and girls.
Let’s keep the world’s eyes on Tehran’s ruthlessness.
And remember the lyrics of Baraye…
Women. Life. Freedom.
Because if we do, we not only honor the memory of Mahsa Amini and every Iranian yearning for freedom and justice…
We honor our own democratic values and principles which we all hold so dear.
We have not done that today.
This is no time for hesitation or equivocation. I urge my colleagues to join me in ensuring quick passage of similar legislation in the new Congressional session.
I yield the floor.”