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March 30 2023

Policy Briefs

The MAHSA Act

What is the MAHSA Act?

The Mahsa Amini Human Rights and Security Accountability Act, or the MAHSA Act, is a bill newly introduced to the 118th Congress as H.R. 589 that would require the President to determine whether high-ranking officials of the Islamic Republic regime in Iran should be listed under existing US sanctions for human rights abuses and support of terrorism.

The MAHSA Act specifically targets (1) the Supreme Leader of Iran and any official in the Office of the Supreme Leader of Iran, (2) the President of Iran and any official in the Office of the President of Iran, and (3) any entity that is overseen by the Office of the Supreme Leader of Iran that is complicit in supporting human rights abuses or terrorism. This would include the blocking of property, visa bans, and other measures to hold these individuals and entities accountable.

The MAHSA Act employs the use of three existing Executive Orders and the included sanctions authorities: Executive Order 13224 (Bush Administration), Executive Order 13553 (Obama Administration), Executive Order 13818 (Trump Administration). It also employs existing sanctions in CAATSA.

Why do Iranian-Americans support the MAHSA Act?

Polling of the Iranian-American community has, for five consecutive years, shown that the community’s foremost policy concern is the promotion of human rights and democracy in Iran. Since the beginning of the most recent pro-democracy protests in the aftermath of the state murder of 22 year old Mahsa Amini, which has included brutal crackdowns with over 18,000 arrests, an estimated 600 protesters murdered (including at least 64 children and 35 women), and over 100 people at imminent risk of execution, our community’s dedication to this issue has increased immensely.

Because of this, the MAHSA Act has broad-based support within our community. Iranian-Americans view the MAHSA Act as a crucial step in imposing costs on the perpetrators of these crimes against the Iranian people. We currently find ourselves in a window of opportunity with virtually no domestic opposition to measures to be taken against the Islamic Republic while we see almost universal support for punitive measures against the regime.

The MAHSA Act has been reintroduced to the 118th Congress with 61 co-sponsors including 32 Republicans and 29 Democrats. You can see the live list of up-to-date co-sponsors here.

Organizations Supporting the MAHSA Act

In addition to being supported by our organization, NUFDI, the MAHSA Act is also supported by the Alliance for the Rights of all Minorities (ARAM), the Iran Working Group of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable, the International Organization to Preserve Human Rights (IOPHR), the Cyrus Forum,  the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI).

Impacts of the MAHSA Act

Sanctions that hold Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi individually accountable, such as those specified in the MAHSA Act, will have significant symbolic value for the Iranian people and will show them that the American Congress is holding their perpetrators accountable for their crimes against humanity. Furthermore, it will have a significant impact in weakening the regime’s economic ability to crackdown on protesters and perpetrate further violence.

Your support for the MAHSA Act will be a meaningful show of solidarity with your Iranian-American constituents, an important show of support for the Iranian people’s movement for human rights and democracy, and an impactful step in holding this regime accountable for its crimes.

About NUFDI

NUFDI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization representing the Iranian-American community in pursuit of a US policy toward Iran based on the values of human rights and democracy.

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