Senior U.S. officials have been increasingly critical of the Iranian government for the brutal treatment of girls and women – including murder, rape, torture, and mass arrests – since the death of Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16, 2022 ignited nationwide protests. “The regime is brutally repressing the voices of women who are courageously standing up for their freedom,” President Biden said on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2023.
In honor of International Women’s Day, the United States – along with the European Union, Britain and Australia--imposed new sanctions (ADD OUR LINK HERE) on Iranian prison officials “complicit in the mistreatment of inmates,” including rapes and other inhumane treatment. They also sanctioned senior security officials and companies that supply Iranian law enforcement. The following are statements by senior U.S. officials and Congressional resolutions on the rights of Iranian females and the extrajudicial repression by the Iranian government.
President Joe Biden
Oct. 3, 2022: “I remain gravely concerned about reports of the intensifying violent crackdown on peaceful protestors in Iran, including students and women, who are demanding their equal rights and basic human dignity. They are calling for just and universal principles, which underpin the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For decades, Iran’s regime has denied fundamental freedoms to its people and suppressed the aspirations of successive generations through intimidation, coercion, and violence. The United States stands with Iranian women and all the citizens of Iran who are inspiring the world with their bravery.”
Oct. 15, 2022: “The Iranian government is so oppressive, you can’t have anything but an enormous amount of respect for those people marching in the streets. I was surprised by the courage of people and women taking the street — taking off their head scarf. I mean, it’s really been amazing. It’s really been amazing. But they’re not a good group, in the government.”
Sept. 21, 2022: “Today, we stand with the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights.”
Secretary of State Blinken
Jan. 29, 2023: “First, Iran had an opportunity to get back into the JCPOA at the end of this past summer. Unfortunately, they rejected what was on the table and had been agreed to by everybody. Their either wouldn’t move forward with it. Now our focus is on the many things that have happened since, including the horrific repression of the Iranian people on the streets of Iran as young people, women in particular, have been standing up for their basic rights, and very important communities across Iranian society are doing the same thing and are being repressed violently by the regime.”
Dec. 4, 2022: “We see this daily, as the regime is once again viciously cracking down on peaceful protesters at home; killing hundreds of his own people, including scores of women and children; and locking away thousands more in its brutal prisons.”
“The United States is committed to standing with the Iranian people, especially women, as they demonstrate extraordinary courage in standing up for their rights.”
Mahsa Amini should be alive today. Instead, the United States and the Iranian people mourn her. We call on the Iranian government to end its systemic persecution of women and to allow peaceful protest. #مهسا_امینی— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) September 20, 2022
Nov. 30, 2022: “Our focus every day and the world’s focus is what’s happening in the streets of Iran – the extraordinary courage of women in particular who have been standing up, speaking up, speaking out for their basic rights.”
“We’ve been working to make sure that, to the best of our ability, those who’ve been involved in trying to repress the ability of the Iranian people and women to speak up and speak out, we’ve been sanctioning that.”
Sept. 19, 2022: “Mahsa Amini should be alive today. Instead, the United States and the Iranian people mourn her. We call on the Iranian government to end its systemic persecution of women and to allow peaceful protests.”
Sept. 9, 2022: “Mahsa Amini should be alive today. Instead, the United States and the Iranian people mourn her. We call on the Iranian government to end its systemic persecution of women and to allow peaceful protests. #مهسا_امینی”
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan
Dec. 14, 2022: “Today in a historic vote, the United Nations acted to remove Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women in response to the Iranian regime’s systemic repression of women and girls. This vote is another sign of the growing international consensus on Iran and demands for accountability. The United States is working with our allies and partners around the world to hold Iran accountable for the abuses it is committing against its own people, notably peaceful protesters, women and girls, and the violence it is enabling against the Ukrainian people, as well as its destabilizing actions throughout the Middle East region… The recent horrifying executions in Tehran only strengthen our resolve to expand this growing consensus and pursue all possible mechanisms of accountability against the Iranian regime and its officials responsible for these atrocities.”
Oct. 14, 2022: “Met with @NazaninBoniadi to discuss the ongoing protests in Iran. I reaffirmed that we stand with the courageous women and all citizens of Iran who right now are defying violence and repression to secure their basic rights. #IranProtests”
Sept. 25, 2022: “What I can say is they do reflect a deep-seeded and widespread belief among the population of Iran, the citizens of Iran, the women of Iran, that they deserve their dignity and their rights.
Sept. 25, 2022: “Right after these protests broke out our administration began speaking out, and the president in fact went to the well of the United Nations and said that the United States stands with the citizens of Iran, the women of Iran, as they demand their rights and their dignity and a better future in Iran.”
Sept. 16, 2022: “We are deeply concerned by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was reportedly beaten in custody by Iran’s morality police. Her death is unforgivable. We will continue to hold Iranian officials accountable for such human right abuses. #MahsaAmini”
CIA Director Bill Burns
Feb. 2, 2023: “The remarkable courage of demonstrators over the course of the last few months—especially young Iranian women—who I think in many respects are fed up…with economic decay, they’re fed up with corruption, they’re fed up with political oppression, they’re fed up with social restrictions that especially affect Iranian women. They’re fed up with a lack of dignity. And none of this is about us. It’s not about Americans. It’s about Iranians and their future.
“This is an Iranian regime that is capable, in the short term, of suppressing people. Their habits of repression are pretty well practiced. But I don’t think they have good answers for what’s on the mind of a very young population, 70 percent of which is under the age of 30 as well.”
Dec. 16, 2022: “I think what struck our analysts at CIA is both the duration of those protests, now almost three months on, and their scope, because they seem to cut across Iranian society, cut across ethnicities, socioeconomic groups…It is about a growing number of Iranians who are fed up, who are fed up with economic decay, with corruption, with the social restrictions that especially affect Iranian women. They are fed up with political oppression, fed up with the denial of basic human dignity.
“In the short term, I don't think the Iranian regime perceives an immediate threat to its grip. It still has some very practiced habits of repression and brutality that it's continuing to employ. In the long term, though, I think the reality is that this is an Iranian regime does not have good answers for what's on the minds of a very young population, 70 percent of which today is under the age of 30…And it's been a remarkable indication of both that frustration that I mentioned before and also the genuine courage of people out in the streets. And so this has gone on for just about three months now, and it can continue for some time.”
Oct. 3, 2022: “What’s striking at least to me and to our analysts here is the sweep of those protests. Now, these are incredibly brave people, and many incredibly brave young women. They’re fed up in a lot of ways. And they’re willing to take the risk of getting out and demonstrating because they’re fed up with economic decay, with corruption, with the social restrictions especially that Iranian women face, and with political repression as well.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen
Sept. 22, 2022: “Mahsa Amini was a courageous woman whose death in Morality Police custody was yet another act of brutality by the Iranian regime’s security forces against its own people. We condemn this unconscionable act in the strongest terms and call on the Iranian government to end its violence against women and its ongoing violent crackdown on free expression and assembly.”
Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley
Nov. 30, 2022: “Organizing international efforts—whether it's at the U.N., at the U.N. Human Rights Council—we will soon try to get Iran kicked off of the Commission on the Status of Women because it's an aberration. It's a complete anomaly that Iran would be on the Commission that’s supposed to defend the rights of women when they're oppressing them…The Iranian regime is more isolated now than it's been in a very long time. And that's because we, together with many others, have made sure that the truth of what's happening in Iran is visible for all to see.”
“What's clear is that these [protests] are extraordinary. It's an extraordinary page of Iran's history that's being written right now. The courage, the determination, the persistence, the creativity of Iranians, particularly Iranian women and girls—they're writing this page of their history. We're not going to be the authors. We can be there to express support for the fundamental rights of Iranians. But this page will be written by Iranians themselves, and they won't be written in Washington or London or anywhere around the globe other than in Iran.”
Jan. 25, 2023: The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved (by 420 to 1) a bipartisan resolution expressing support for Iranian protesters and condemning the government crackdown. It commended the demonstrators in more than 133 cities and 130 universities in Iran, “where women are removing or burning hijabs, cutting their hair, and dancing in front of Iranian security forces, joined by their fellow Iranian citizens.” It cited the deaths of hundreds, including children, since protests erupted in September 2022. “We want the Iranian people to know that we see you, said Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We know the risk you’re taking and the danger that you face.” He also called on Iranians to “stay strong as freedom will always win over tyranny.”
Jan. 26, 2023: Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and 47 co-sponsors introduced a resolution in the Senate “commending the bravery, courage, and resolve of the women and men of Iran demonstrating in more than 133 cities and risking their safety to speak out against the Iranian regime's human rights abuses.”
It also criticizes the “long history of structural and legal discrimination against women” in Iran and outlines several specific abuses against women. It supports increased sanctions on Iran, efforts to expand internet access to circumvent the regime, and encourages the private sector and international community to join in these efforts.