Pence Wants to Support Iranian Dissidents

Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.), Chairman of the House Republican Conference, introduced a resolution in the House today supporting the dissidents in Iran who are protesting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s supposed win in the June 12 presidential election.

Pence’s resolution follows the highly controversial and contested announcement by Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency that Ahmadinejad received 62.6% of the vote to seal his reelection. It expresses American support for Iranians who are standing for free and fair elections, democracy and basic rights.

Pence remarked that the paper ballots were collected and counted at such unbelievable speed and official results were released so hastily the eyebrows of skeptics were indignantly raised. Violent protests throughout Iran and international scrutiny struck up almost instantaneously after the announcement was made.

Iranian authorities have been accused of interrupting and blocking communication during polling, arresting political opponents and barring foreign journalists.

In Tehran, Ahmadinejad’s supporters have clashed with those of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, his reformist opponent.

Iran ultimately issued a ban on protests following two days of destructive rioting.

“We are witnessing a Tiananmen in Tehran, and the United States of America must stand in the gap on behalf of those brave Iranian citizens who are standing for free and fair elections, democracy and basic rights,” Pence said in his announcement.

At least 7 have been killed and many wounded in the protests throughout Iran’s cities.

Pence acknowledged that President Obama disapproved of the violence and supported the rights of Iranians during addresses from the White House. But the Obama administration “has yet to express the unqualified support of the American people for those who are courageously taking to the streets for free elections and for democracy in Iran,” Pence contested.

President Obama urged Iran’s leadership to “unclench its fist,” in return for his “open hand”, but the Iranian regime has not reciprocated.

“If the President of the United States won’t express the unqualified support of our nation for the dissidents in the streets of Tehran, this Congress must,” Pence implored.

Pence’s resolution points out the supposed “irregularities” in the election, condemn the violence against demonstrators by pro-government forces and strengthen the U.S.’s commitment to promoting “free and fair elections.”

“Lastly, and most importantly, it will express the support of the American people for all Iranian citizens who struggle for freedom, civil liberties and the protection of the rule of law,” he said.

On Tuesday the top Iranian legislative body dismissed a proposed annulment of the election results, halting a possible recount following a legal appeal filed by Mousavi.

“We cannot stand idly by, speak of Iran’s sovereignty, speak of her own right to choose her own leadership at a time when hundreds of thousands of Iranians are risking their lives to stand up for free elections and democracy,” Pence urged.

Pence shared his hope that the U.S. can restructure its tumultuous relationship with Iran by beginning to more readily acknowledge that “Iranians long for a new start in their government.”

“There is a reformist movement afoot in Iran,” he reemphasized.

Question: Will Obama do anything to help the Iranian dissidents and increase pressure on the ayatollahs?