Mr. Speaker, the mullahs in Tehran are among the world’s worst human rights abusers. This year we have witnessed their brutality again on display as they mercilessly crushed political dissent from their own people.
International attention has faded but the Iranian people are still in the streets demanding their rights, whether they be economic opportunity, access to water, religious freedom, or gender equality. The United States must support these dissidents fighting for freedom and basic human rights.
In response, the regime has murdered dozens and locked-up thousands as it has done so many times before without punishment from the outside world. In perhaps one of the most egregious cases, in 1988 the Iranian regime initiated a systematic massacre of thousands of political dissidents.
The barbaric mass executions by hanging and firing squad included teenagers and pregnant women who refused to renounce their political affiliations, including many from the MEK—today’s leading Iranian dissident group. It’s important to remember and emphasize who exactly were the victims of this bloody massacre.
Iranian security officials would ask detainees ‘‘What is your political affiliation?’’ Those who said ‘‘MEK’’ would be immediately placed on execution lists.
So horrific was the act that the deputy to Ayatollah Khomeini at the time called it ‘‘the greatest crime committed during the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us.’’ Their day of reckoning is fast approaching.
It has taken 30 years to condemn and investigate this horrific massacre. The United States must act swiftly to ensure that the Mullahs in Tehran are finally held accountable.
Our government must work with international partners to also investigate other major human rights abuses such as the dozens more killed during protests in 1999, 2009, and 2017. In all cases, the families of those murdered by the regime were never told what happened to their loved ones’ remains.
The United States government and our allies must make it a priority to pressure the Iranian regime to disclose where the final resting place of the missing is so that their families may have a small bit of peace. Another horrific violation of human rights and decency is taking place today on the shores of Libya.
In 2011, our government self-righteously intervened in Libya to topple the regime of Muammar al-Gadhafi and then turned its back on that country. It is now a fullblown failed state where human trafficking is taking place.
Human trafficking is modern day slavery. We are seeing thousands of desperate refugees attempting to cross the war-torn country to the freedom and opportunity of Europe only to end up being exploited by slave traders.
Estimates indicate there are about 500,000 to a million migrants bottled up in Libya that could be fodder for this despicable slave trade. Evil men, whether they be criminal opportunists or terrorists, are subjugating those in the most need for their own profit.
You cannot put a price on human life. The fact remains that we simply do not know enough about what exactly is going on in Libya today.
The U.S. government and Congress should further investigate this tragic development of human slavery in Libya so we can get to the bottom of what is actually going on. We must know who is exploiting migrants for profit, where the money is going, and compel Libyan authorities and the international community to respond decisively.
It is our moral duty to fight for the voiceless who are being sold as chattel on the shores of Libya.
And that’s just the way it is.