Time for a Fresh Look, Iran Zamin News Agency, October 14
Senators Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) and Christopher Bond (R-MO) announced today that 28 United States Senators, including nine Senate committee chairmen, urged US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to "look afresh towards the possibilities that exist within Iran's democratic opposition, including the People's Mojahedin."
The bipartisan letter noted that the Iranian regime's human rights record remains bleak, citing extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, widespread use of torture, violence against women, and unfair trials, "among a lengthy list of other severe human rights violations."
The 28 Senators added in their letter: "More than two years after the election of Mohammad Khatami as the Iranian regime's president, the evidence indicates little perceptible change, internally or internationally, in Tehran's behavior... Now is not the time to associate ourselves with a regime that continues to subject its people to repressive and brutal practices. Rather, we should work with the Iranian people to further their deeply held aspirations for democracy and human rights."
The Senators cited a statement issued by 220 members of the House of Representatives - a majority of this body - identifying the People's Mojahedin as "a legitimate resistance movement, even though they remain on your agency's list of terrorist organizations."
The Senators also noted that the State Department's decision to drop Iran's designation as "the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism" did not change Tehran's behavior. Rather, "Tehran has continued to use car bombs, missile attacks, and other terrorist acts against the opposition" which claimed seven lives in June.
The Senators concluded: "We believe
that current U.S. policy toward Iran should take significant steps towards
supporting the goals of democracy and human rights in Iran. With the increased
likelihood of instability in Iran, an effort must be made to encourage
the Iranian opposition forces that will help promote long-term stability."
Misguided Gestures towards Tehran, Agence France Presse, October 14
More than one-fourth of the United States Senate on Thursday urged the State Department to reconsider its designation of the Iranian opposition group People's Mujahadeen as a terrorist organization.
In a letter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, 28 of the 100 senators also said recent conciliatory gestures by Washington to Tehran were misguided and ignored evidence that the Iranian regime remained a sponsor of terrorism.
"Now is not the time to associate ourselves with a regime that continues to subject its people to repressive and brutal practices," wrote the senators, led by Democrat Robert Torricelli and Republican Christopher Bond.
"Rather, we should work with the Iranian people to further their deeply held aspirations for democracy and human rights," they said, noting reports of extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and unfair trials in Iran.
They called on the department to "look afresh towards the possibilities that exist within Iran's democratic opposition, including the People's Mujahadeen."
Last week, for the second year in a row, the State Department listed the People's Mujahadeen as a terrorist group in its annual report on terrorism in what is widely seen as an olive branch toward the Islamic government.
Earlier this year, the department dropped its designation of Tehran as "the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism" though it remains on that list and subject to sanctions imposed on others so designated.
In addition, US President Bill Clinton has appealed to Mohammad Khatami for assistance in bringing to justice the bombers of a US army barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1996.
Such moves have angered some lawmakers who see them as pandering toward a government that remains hostile to American interests despite perceived moderation in its anti-US stance.
The senators said that despite the election of Khatami, heralded as a sign of reform, "the evidence indicates little perceptible change, internally or internationally, in Tehran's behavior."
It noted the arrest of 13 Iranian Jews on spying charges, as well as the crackdown on thousands of demonstrators during a wave of unrest in July.
Back to Brief on Iran