Washington, DC – Over fifteen hundred people signed a letter this past week thanking President Obama for suspending sanctions and helping enable Americans to support earthquake relief efforts in Iran. The letter, which was sent to the White House this morning, was sponsored by a coalition of top Iranian-American organizations and applauded the White House decision to issue a general license in the aftermath of deadly earthquakes that struck Iran two weeks ago.
“Your efforts, demonstrate that disputes between governments should never interfere with humanitarian needs and goodwill among people,” wrote the sponsoring organizations, which included Child Foundation, Children of Persia, Hand Foundation, Iranian Alliances Across Borders, Iranian American Bar Association, Iranian American Muslim Association of North America, Moms Against Poverty, National Iranian American Council, Persian American Society for Health Management, Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, United For Iran, and West Asia Council.
The President’s decision to suspend the sanctions came after thousands of Americans, 14 members of Congress, and a coalition of organizations wrote to the President urging him to exempt sanctions for humanitarian relief efforts. As an immediate result of the decision, several relief organizations are now accepting donations to provide emergency relief and recovery assistance in Iran. According to research conducted by NIAC, however, many banks are still unwilling to transfer funds into Iran due to sanctions risks, demonstrating the difficulty of carving out humanitarian loopholes from the broad sanctions now in place. NIAC, which opposes broad sanctions, has called for further U.S. guidance to encourage banks to facilitate legal transactions regarding Iran. The Iranian government has also reportedly stood in the way of relief efforts, reportedly arresting 40 aid workers last week. NIAC condemned the arrests and called on the Iranian government to stop impeding humanitarian relief.