NIAC Applauds Open Letter Signed by Over 100 Iranian Human Rights Defenders Expressing Concern over U.S.-Iran Tensions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 27, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON DC –  The San Francisco-based human rights group, United For Iran, published a letter signed by over 100 Iranian human rights advocates expressing concern against further U.S. escalation with Iran. The letter expresses “grave concerns over the rising tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, which risks a military confrontation that would cause massive human rights harms.” 

It further urges both countries to exercise restraint and emphasizes that war will only devastate Iran’s human rights defenders. The letter also underscores that “Only peace-focused policies that prioritize the rights and well-being of ordinary people in Iran and the region can provide meaningful, long-term benefits.” 

The full text of the letter and list of signatories can be found here.

In response to the letter, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“With conflict looming between Iran and the United States, Iranian human rights activists are emphatically joining the chorus of voices demanding that the U.S. refrain from abandoning diplomacy in favor of military action.

“Nothing can destroy Iranians’ quest to advance human rights in the country faster than war. Ultimately war is the biggest human rights violation. If the Trump administration is truly intent on supporting the Iranian people, it would do well to listen to those, both in and outside of Iran, who have dedicated their livelihoods to promoting an open society. The administration needs to adopt a pro-diplomacy approach to Iran, lest it continue to use human rights as a platform to push forth Trump’s dangerous maximum pressure campaign.

“The Iran nuclear deal was a platform that not only restricted Iran’s nuclear program. It was a platform for engagement that opened the door to progress within Iran and the easing of social restrictions. The decision by the Trump administration to violate the deal stifled this development and promoted confrontation. 

“That the Iranian government violates the rights of its citizens is without question. However, as these activists make clear, current U.S. policy on Iran can only exacerbate the devastating human rights situation in Iran. To choose human rights is to choose diplomacy–and any path forward with Iran must adopt engagement, including the lifting of sanctions and a return to the Iran nuclear deal, as its cornerstone.

“Rather than helping to advance the cause for human rights, war will destroy the lives of Iranians and create unforeseeable devastation that is far removed from the ideals of liberty or justice. As the prime defenders of human rights in Iran, it is incumbent upon us to heed their words.”

NIAC Statement in Response to Reports of Downed U.S. Drone

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 20, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON DC – Today, Iranian forces reportedly shot down a U.S. military drone after it had allegedly entered into Iranian territory. U.S. officials maintain that the incident occurred in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.

In response, Sina Toossi, Research Associate at the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said:

“Reports that Iran has shot down a U.S. drone over the Persian Gulf are alarming and serve as yet another potential tripmine to all-out war erupting. As U.S.-Iran tensions have soared in recent weeks, the need for deconfliction channels between the two countries is more pronounced than ever. These vital channels of communication existed in the past, allowing both sides to delineate boundaries and avoid collisions between their respective militaries in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Syria and in other theaters. However, the Trump administration, in pursuit of a counterproductive and destabilizing so-called ‘maximum pressure’ campaign, has eliminated all levels of communication between the two sides.

“If it is proven that Iran shot down the U.S. drone over international waters, it is provocative act that must be condemned by the international community. Regardless, there is a vital need for immediate U.S.-Iran deescalation. There are no military solutions to the U.S. disputes with Iran—only diplomatic ones. However, rather than pursue sincere diplomacy, President Trump has elected to pile on pressure with no strategic foresight at the behest of uber-hawkish advisors like John Bolton. If Trump wants to avoid a disastrous conflict at this critical juncture, he needs new advisors that would reopen channels of dialogue and enact policies that would bring Trump closer to a deal with Tehran, not war.”

Toossi continued:

“The fact is that the Trump White House’s policies have set the U.S. on a path to conflict with Iran. Actions such as designating as a foreign terrorist organization Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a state-run military force which operates in the Persian Gulf in close proximity to U.S. forces, were bound to lead to the dangerous scenarios unfolding today. Indeed, the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies long warned against designating the IRGC for precisely this risk of escalation. They have since also held that Iran’s recent, more threatening activity is due to the Trump’s administration aggressive actions, including the IRGC designation and terminating sanction waivers for importers of Iranian oil.”