The Iranian regime must stop abusing the human rights of its own people if it wants Iran to return to prosperity, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said. Accusing Iran of "towering hypocrisy" in the mistreatment of its people, Pompeo lamented that for the last 40 years the Iranian regime has shown "disrespect" toward its people, destabilizing the internal order of the country, weakening Iran's economy, and making Iran "a pariah state in the eyes of freedom-loving people all across the world." "In 1979, in their mad zeal, they imposed the Islamic Republic Revolution on the open-minded, entrepreneurial, and amazing Iranian people. To this day, the Iranian regime is desperate to control ideas, to control speech, and, indeed, to control life itself," he told an audience of Iranian "friends," expressing his happiness at being able to host them. Ambassadors and members of congress were also present at the speech, given in Washington on Thursday.
Recounting a number of human rights' abuses of Iranians by their leaders, including the jailing of three women for between 16 and 24 years because they were handing out flowers on the Tehran metro, on International Women’s Day without wearing the hijab, Pompeo lamented: "We grieve to see a calloused and corrupt elite disrespect an ancient and proud people. We grieve to see the Iranian nation sink further into a pit of poverty, because of unjust rulers.""Iran’s human rights violations are worse than unacceptable," he said. "They’re evil, and they’re wrong."In recent months America has been steadily increasing pressure on Tehran to come into line with the international community, placing a range of economic and other sanctions on the regime in order to bring it to heel. Pompeo has been one of the most vocal advocates for the policy, and on Thursday he again escalated measures, announcing three new sanctions against the regime over human rights violations within Iran. Among the measures is the re-designation of Iran as a Country of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act. "The world should know Iran is among the worst violators of basic fundamental religious freedoms," he said.As he spoke, the Treasury Department announced sanctions on two Iranian judges, Mohammad Moghisseh and Abolghassem Salavati, who Pompeo described as having committed "heinous acts" as "tool[s] of the regime's oppression." Both oversee branches of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, where numerous trials of a political nature have taken place. "This administration is targeting those in the regime who seek to censor protesters, persecute religious minorities and silence the Iranian people, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. "The United States stands with those who participate in peaceful public dissent and protests."Iranian officials and individuals responsible for human rights abuses, and their family members, are also to be sanctioned through the withholding of American travel visas under the Immigration and Nationality Act"Thugs killing people’s children will not be allowed to send their own children to study in the United States of America," Pompeo said. The Department of State estimates that over 1000 people have been killed in Iran by the regime in recent months, as internal protests escalate in the wake of economic sanctions biting hard into the Iranian economy. The crackdown has been decried by a range of human rights organizations, although none has given an official death toll as high as that stated by Pompeo. Amnesty International has categorically confirmed 304 deaths, after extensive verification work including speaking to family members, lawyers, activists and journalists inside the country, as well as combing hours of footage and scrutinizing burial certificates and death posters. However, the actual figure could be much higher, as some families were warned not to speak of the deaths or hold public funerals before the bodies of their loved ones were released. Tehran has also restricted internet access within the country in a bid to stop pictures of the atrocities from leaking out, prompting Pompeo to call on Iranians to send American officials footage directly. So far, he said, 36,000 pieces of information had been received and were being processed to bring the perpetrators of violence and oppression to justice. "We’ve heard these stories, we’ve seen these stories. We’ve seen the faces. Those faces – the faces of the victims – will not be forgotten, and the faces of the perpetrators will be pursued."However, despite the current atrocities, Pompeo's message was one of hope. He looked forward to a day when the locks could be cut off the doors of the Iranian embassy in Washington, he said, and when the people of the two nations could interact freely. "As difficult as the situation is, as I have just recounted – and I have only scratched the surface – it’s not hopeless," he said. "The Iranian people have a steadfast friend, and they are good people, and they have spirit. The friend is a unique North Star for hope for all those oppressed and their voice, their writings, their faith, and their ideals."The United States will stand and has stood under President Trump with the Iranian people."Over 40 years in power, the regime in Iran has shown only disrespect for the Iranian people. This disrespect has destabilized Iran’s internal order, weakened its economy, and made it a pariah state in the eyes of the free world. pic.twitter.com/UBccFKHC45— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) December 19, 2019