Great Britain

Iranian-Americans, opposition rally in Washington as Iran’s Raisi is inaugurated

Iranian-Americans including members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran held a rally on Capitol Hill, where speakers including members of Congress condemned Iran’s incoming president, Ebrahim Raisi.

At a gathering in Union Square on Monday, Iranian-Americans who had seen family members killed by Iran’s government for various alleged crimes erected a memorial showing the faces of hundreds of those killed.

In fiery statements to the crowd, speakers including both Iranian-Americans and prominent figures from Congress and the US political sphere condemned Mr Raisi and called for him to face international human rights charges.

Of the current and former members of Congress and other US dignitaries who attended, most hailed from the establishment wing of US foreign policy — speakers included former Sen Joe Lieberman as well as former Rep Eliot Engel, who chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee until his ouster in a Justice Democrats-backed primary challenge.

In the former senator’s remarks, Mr Lieberman called for Iran’s incoming president to go before the Hague and face charges of crimes against humanity, and rejected the legitimacy of his election which other attendees stressed to The Independent was the target of widespread boycotts.

“We cannot remain silent on these crimes against humanity”, Mr Lieberman said of killings of dissidents linked to Mr Raisi and other figures in Iran’s government.

Others, such as former Assistant Secretary of State Lincoln Bloomfield, urged a UN human rights investigation backed by the US into Mr Raisi and allegations that dissidents were massacred in the country as recently as 2019.

Many at the rally urged President Joe Biden, who during his campaign pledged to steer the US towards rejoining the Iran nuclear accord which the US exited during the Trump administration, to keep up the pressure on top officials and Iran’s economy resulting from US sanctions. Some even called for those sanctions to be increased, the opposite of what Iran’s government has said would be necessary for it to return to compliance.

Mr Engel echoed those calls for the pressure on Iran’s government to be maintained in an interview with The Independent, noting that he was “not a fan” of the 2015 agreement signed under the Obama administration, and urged his “friend” Mr Biden to pursue “a new deal, a better deal, one that brings Iran closer to democracy”.

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