SWC: President Obama Should Ratchet Up Sanctions against Tehran; Stand in Solidarity with Iranian People

SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER: PRESIDENT OBAMA SHOULD RATCHET UP SANCTIONS AGAINST TEHRAN; STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH IRANIAN PEOPLE 

September 24, 2009

As Iranian President Ahmadinejad once again used the United Nations to rant against Israel and the United States yesterday, the Simon Wiesenthal Center convened a simultaneous press conference to urge the world to ratchet up sanctions to weaken the soon-to-be nuclear Iranian regime and to provide a platform for authentic voices of the Iranian people.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the leading Jewish human rights NGO, reported on recent meetings with leaders in Germany, the Persian Gulf and Japan, saying all expressed deep concern over an Iranian bomb, but do not want to see Israel exercise the military option to debase Tehran’s nuclear program. “That leaves one option— even as the US enters into talks with Iran, there must be an immediate ratcheting up of sanctions, led by the United States and the European Union,” Cooper said.

Rabbi Cooper noted that the Iranian people continue to signal the world they are not in lockstep with Ahmadinejad’s anti- American rants and genocidal threats against Israel. He pointed out a dramatic development last Friday, as Ahmadinejad publicly repeated his Holocaust denial and once again threatened Israel on Quds (Jerusalem) Day. “Thousands of people shouted not ‘Death to America and Israel’ but ‘Death to the Dictator’,” Cooper said, adding that would be “the equivalent to thousands of Germans attending massive Nazi rallies in the 1930s chanting ‘Death to the Fuehrer’. President Obama needs to find ways to openly acknowledge and nurture those forces in Iran who want peace and democracy.”

The press briefing heard a first hand report from Roozbeh Farahanipour the co-founder of the Marze Por Gohar (Iranians for a Secular Republic) political party who recently returned from a dangerous clandestine trip to Iran where he helped lead demonstrations on the anniversary of the July 9, 1999 uprising. Farahanipour, who was arrested and tortured as a student a decade ago showed pictures from various demonstrations he participated in and strongly endorsed tougher sanctions on Iran.

“If we are looking for a political, not a military solution against the regime, the best and non-violent one is sanctions. The majority of the Iranian people supporting and helping our cause are asking for sanctions,” Farahanipour said. “On Twitter and Facebook people are calling for boycotting countries doing business, supporting the regime. And sanctions will cause the Iranian government to have to cut it’s spending on international terrorism,” he added.

Another participant at the press conference, activist Hassan Zarezadeh Ardeshir was placed in solitary confinement for two years during the Khatami regime, said, “Ahmadinejad and Khameini are not just an internal issue. They affect the people of Iran and the international community--we urge members of the international community and the UN not to bestow further legitimacy on Ahmadinejad, who the majority of Iranians do not recognize as their president, but instead support the peaceful movements in Iran."

Canadian-based Human Rights activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam, President of Stop Child Executions, urged the United Nations Human Rights Council “to appoint a Committee of Inquiry to investigate human rights abuses by the Iranian government both before and after the elections.” Also participating in the briefing was Lisa Daftari, an award-winning journalist and documentarian.

Later today Wiesenthal Center officials will attend a large protest outside UN headquarters in New York and a press conference at Los Angeles City Hall where various California elected officials will call for greater divestment from Iran.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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