Brownback, Cornyn Introduce Iran Democracy Act

In: All News   Posted 05/19/2003

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) were joined by Iranian exiles Monday to unveil the Iran Democracy Act. The bill’s purpose is to strengthen support for Iranians seeking to create a democratic, secular government in Iran which respects human rights, abandons state-sponsored terrorism and rejects the possession and use of weapons of mass destruction. "We must send a clear message,” Cornyn said. “The people of Iran should be able to choose to support the current fundamentalist regime or the creation of a new government, one based on respect for freedom and human rights. Either way, it must be their choice.” the bill authorizes funding for an expansion of public diplomacy, namely pro-democracy broadcasting into Iran, and increases the advice and influence of Iranian-Americans in the U.S. Persian radio service, Radio Farda. It sets support for an internationally-monitored referendum in Iran to allow the Iranian people to peacefully change their system of government as official U.S. policy. The bill states that the U.S. will support the people of Iran in their peaceful struggle for freedom. the State Department recently cited Iran as “the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2002.” The government in Tehran continues to provide funding, training, weapons and safe haven to terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Hizballah, HAMAS, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Iran is also aggressively pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, and on February 9, Iran’s president, Mohammad Khatami, disclosed that Iran had secretly begun building two plants for enriching uranium with critical assistance from Russia. According to a survey conducted last year by the Tarrance Group, 71% of Iranians support a national referendum that allows the people of Iran to decide what system of government is best for the country, rather than an extremist religious minority. Cornyn continued: “After 24 years of theocratic rule, and nearly seven years under the so-called reform government, it is clear that the repressive regime in Iran is still up to no good. Terrorist groups cannot survive without the financial and logistical support provided by sympathetic governments. Without state sponsors, terrorist groups would have a difficult time obtaining the funds, weapons, materials, and protection they need in order to carry out their deadly activities.” Among the Iranians participating in the press conference was Bahman Rahbari of Dallas who was a torture victim of the current regime in Iran. Also at the press conference were Manda Ervin of Maryland, Banafsheh Zand of New York, and Roya Sepehrrad of Virginia. Sens. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) are co-sponsors of the bill.