Saturday, June 20, 2009

US Congress condemns post-election violence in Iran

Updated at: 0610 PST, Saturday, June 20, 2009

WASHINGTON: The U.S. Congress has condemned the Iranian government's crackdown on demonstrators protesting the result of the recent election. The U.S. Senate acted Friday after an earlier nearly unanimous vote by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The 405 to 1 vote was the strongest expression of support yet from the U.S. Congress for demonstrators who have been protesting the result of Iran's disputed election that left President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power.

It was also the culmination of a week of political maneuvering during which minority Republicans in Congress criticized President Barack Obama for not taking a stronger public stand on events in Iran.

The resolution expressed support for "all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and rule of law" and affirms "the importance of democratic and fair elections."

Lawmakers also condemn what they call "the ongoing violence" by the government and pro-government militias against demonstrators, and the Iranian government's "suppression of independent electronic communications through interference with the Internet and cell phones."

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Democrat Howard Berman agreed to bring the resolution, which was sponsored by Republican Representative Mike Pence, to the House floor.

"It is not for us to decide who should run Iran, much less determine the real winner of the June 12 election. But we must reaffirm our strong belief that the Iranian people have a fundamental right to express their views about the future of their country freely and without intimidation," he said.

In their own floor statements, Republican lawmakers reiterated their position that a strong expression of support for Iranian demonstrators is called for.

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