Ask President Obama -- Support #IranianProtests Now!
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Dear Mr. Obama:
In 2009 when millions of Iranian people took to the streets in a massive popular demonstration to elect the leader of their choice, they singularly called you by your name and asked if you were with them or not? Their chant, “Obama, Obama ya ba oona, ya ba ma” specifically asked if you would be supportive of them.
At the time, you made a choice not to take a public position on these protests. Many believed that your lack of a strong statement facilitated the ability of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to assume the presidency. Since then, former presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, have been serving a sentence of house arrest, their movements and statements restricted by the government. Protestor Neda Agha Soltan died before our eyes at the age of 26 while hundreds of others were beaten, injured, arrested and driven out of the country. Other elections have taken place since then, but true hope for change never gained the same momentum as it did in 2009.
In 2015, when you spearheaded the opening of diplomatic relations with Iran and lifted the backbreaking sanctions in return for a nuclear agreement, many people in Iran once again were filled with hope that their economic conditions would improve and that freedom and human rights would be forthcoming. However, as you know, poverty has continued to escalate, government employees remain unpaid, freedom has been repressed, and human rights continually have been violated. Recently Iran broke the world’s record on executions.
On the international stage, Iran has expanded an agenda of malevolence and manipulation. It has pursued a sinister partnership with the brutal dictator Bashar Assad, serving as his accomplice to the genocide of the Syrian people. The Islamic Republic continues to sponsor terrorist activities in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. The nation deliberately issues propaganda to foment conspiracies against the US and our allies in the region.
Despite this behavior, an important new opportunity has presented itself for you to stand by the beleaguered people of Iran. We urge you to step forward and seize this opportunity.
In a sudden and courageous manner, the people of Iran have taken to the streets to ask for a simple thing -- freedom and justice. These demonstrations have erupted in dozens of cities across the country. While the initial focus was the economic situation in the country, protesters quickly moved to decry the repression and violence that endures in their society. The unofficial reports coming through social media are breathtaking as these people are risking their lives and those of their loved ones when they speak out in such a public manner.
Indeed, these individuals are demonstrating extraordinary courage. These are not hardened activists but ordinary people -- men and women, boys and girls, young and old, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. They are standing up to the likely prospect of extreme police violence, including arrests, beatings, torture and potential death. And they are taking these risks with minimal media coverage -- other than Telegram and YouTube, they are on their own. In this moment, the Iranian people desperately need powerful voices from outside their borders to rise up and stand in solidarity with them.
As a distinguished Nobel Peace Prize winner and as an individual who symbolizes hope and possibility of change to so many around the world, we ask you to hear the cries of the Iranian people and to send a strong and public message of compassion and solidarity. Such a message not only would inspire and unify the people of Iran, but it also could catalyze bipartisan collaboration here at home. Your willingness to speak out on this time-sensitive issue could spur the American people to join hands in a nonpartisan manner and support the shared values of freedom and liberty that are inspiring the Iranian people.
Write an open letter. Send a video message. Issue a statement. Tweet out your thoughts. However you choose to do it, this is a unique opportunity. You can play a role and speak out for justice and humanity.
But make no mistake, time is of the essence. The physical strength and emotional resistance of the protesters will suffer as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps employs excessive force to stop them and crush their will. But your voice could make a vital difference in this moment of need.
Supporters of Freedom and Justice in Iran
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