President Joseph R. Biden
The White House
Washington, D.C., 20500
Dear President Biden,
Congratulations on your assumption of the presidency. We write as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of Iranian Americans, the National Union for Democracy in Iran, which represents the views of those in our community who support human rights and democracy in Iran. We write today to apprise you of the current situation in Iran under the Islamic Republic and to open a dialogue on your Iran policy.
In the past five years, events on the ground in Iran have changed dramatically. The nation’s political conversation is no longer defined by the false division between “reformists” and “hardliners.” Rather, after multiple uprisings and anti-regime protests in over 200 cities in which thousands of Iranians seeking democracy were slaughtered for calling for an end to the Islamic Republic, the people of Iran now look beyond this regime, to a secular democratic future.
The Iranian people demand an end to this regime because they recognize that it is irreformable and that the crimes against humanity it commits on a daily basis are not reactions to international policies, but rather manifestations of its evil ideology. From the burning alive of moviegoers in the 1978 Cinema Rex slaughter to its facilitation and support of the Syrian genocide to its four decade policy of hostage taking, the Islamic Republic will never be a normal government. From it’s assassinations of activists on foreign soil to its unsurpassed support of terrorism to its campaign of chaos in the Middle East, the Islamic Republic will never be a reliable or trustworthy partner.
Mr. President, in the campaign you insisted that your foreign policy would be based on support for human rights and democracy. This principled vision can be put into practice when it comes to Iran by supporting the Iranian people’s ongoing movement for a secular democracy. The brave Iranian dissidents with whom we are in constant contact, at great risk to their safety and that of their families, often ask us why the world ignores them. We ask you not to be among those that ignore their noble struggle. It is to that end that we urge you to base your Iran policy on this one principle: standing with the Iranian people.
The Iranian people’s protests against the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly continue. When they do, you and your administration must speak up in unequivocal and expeditious support of their fundamental right to self-determination. Some will tell you this will empower the regime or “hardliners.” This is falsehood perpetuated by those close to the regime itself, its foreign-based apologists, and those who do not recognize factual realities on the ground. Iranians still see America as that shining city on a hill and they expect its leader to stand with them.
Elie Wiesel said that “neutrality helps the oppressor.” In this most obvious struggle between good and evil, between oppressed and oppressor we urge you not to be neutral. For Iranian women, minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, and everyday citizens the Islamic Republic is an oppressive, apartheid state. Just as you stood against Apartheid in South Africa, just as you stand with the people of Belarus in their struggle for democracy, Mr. President, we implore you to stand with the people of Iran in word and in deed and to engage their representatives.
It is to that end that we offer the following policy recommendations to keep your pledge to stand for democracy and human rights, which we call maximum support:
1) Use frozen regime assets to form a Strike Fund to support striking laborers in Iran
2) Establish free, secure, and high speed Internet access for Iranians to communicate
3) Hold the regime accountable for crimes against humanity with the Magnitsky Act
4) Remove the travel ban on regular Iranians and ban affiliates of the Islamic Republic
5) Hold American tech firms to account for facilitating regime propaganda & violence
6) Ensure the safety of dissidents and activists in the United State
7) Continuously engage human rights activists and pro-democracy dissidents
For the past four decades American policy on Iran has focused on engaging the Islamic Republic. This policy, in different shapes and forms, has never borne the fruit of American security or freedom for the Iranian people nor has it fostered a new chapter of peace and cooperation between our two nations. We thus view the ultimate path to solving this conflict as being a dialogue with and engagement of the Iranian people.
If you insist on negotiations with the Islamic Republic, we urge you to demand as a precondition to a return to the JCPOA, the removal of current sanctions, and any future potential agreements, the unconditional release of all foreign hostages and political prisoners held by the regime. If the Islamic Republic is not forced to respect the fundamental human rights of its people and international law, it never will.
Furthermore, any and all negotiations or agreements with the Islamic Republic that do not prioritize human rights as a central component will be viewed as a betrayal of the Iranian people and as a betrayal of the noble principle of supporting human rights and democracy that you have established in your campaign. We urge you to remain loyal to these principles and not to ignore the people of Iran.
The ultimate way to eliminate the multitude of threats presented by the Islamic Republic in Iran is not by empowering mythical moderates. The ultimate path to ending the nuclear threat, the regional chaos, the international terrorism, the hostage taking, the assassinations, the constant threat of war, the gender apartheid, the crimes against humanity, is by standing with the Iranian people on their ongoing path to a secular democracy.
We hope to begin an ongoing dialogue around these priorities and principles with a meeting with your team at the earliest possible convenience.
The National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI)