Thursday, December 16, 2004

Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen linked to Terrorist Group

FarsiNet News - News related to Iran, Iranians and Persians - October 2000: "US Congress Members Call for Change in Iran Policy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A majority of members of the House of Representatives and more than 20 senators Wednesday called for tougher U.S. policies toward Iran, saying Tehran continues to violate human rights and President Mohammad Khatami has failed to bring about any improvement.
Some 225 House members and 28 senators said hundreds of executions, torture, attacks on dissidents abroad and the recent trial by an Islamic court of 13 Iranian Jews behind closed doors "lead us to conclude that any talk of political openness or moderation is ill advised." The lawmakers, who included Democrats and Republicans, urged the U.S. State Department to drop its policy of quiet rapprochement with Tehran and provide recognition and support for the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group trying to topple the ruling theocracy in Tehran.

"With the statement we are releasing today, a majority of members of the House are making clear that our Iran policy must be changed to reflect the genuine desires of the Iranian people," declared Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman of New York, one of the leaders of the Congressional group. "Now is not the time for American policy to go mushy."

Many in Congress have grown disillusioned with Khatami's record in office and failure to press Iran's conservative religious leadership to reform. AGGRESSIVE NUCLEAR PROGRAM

Lawmakers are also angry and frustrated at what they see as Iran's continued support for terrorism and its aggressive nuclear weapons program, which has surged ahead in recent years with technological help from Russia and other nations. "Not one of the United States' conditions for improving ties, namely Iran's ceasing its human rights abuses, support for terrorism, pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and opposition to the peace process has been met, yet the administration has decided to waive many of the economic penalties prescribed by law," said Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Lawmakers cited a crackdown on the press, suppression of student demonstrations, torture of political prisoners and a rise in the number of executions as evidence that Khatami's presidency had brought no positive changes. "Such savage punishments continue to be meted out under President Mohammad Khatami," the statement said. "It has also become clear that contrary to some accounts in the West, the parliamentary election in Iran was neither free nor fair, but designed to reinforce the ruling system." The growing pressure in Congress for Washington to take a harder line with Tehran follows a similar move in the British parliament where 335 members signed a statement in June calling for political and trade relations with Tehran to be made conditional on Iran's respect for human rights.

Members of the U.S. Congress urged the State Department to immediately remove the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the political wing of the Iraq-based Mujahideen Khalq armed group, from its list of "terrorist" organizations. "The State Department is completely closing its eyes to reality," said Soona Samsami, the council's representative in the United States. "This (congressional action) gives it some balance.""