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Congressional Caucus Spearheads Global Initiative to Ensure Safety and Rights of Iranian Dissidents in Ashraf-3

United States Congress

In a landmark move, the bipartisan “Congressional ASHRAF Protection and Rights Advocacy Caucus” is spearheading efforts to address the challenges faced by Iranian dissidents residing in Ashraf-3, Albania. This Caucus, a Congressional Member Organization (CMO) of the United States Congress, is dedicated to advocating for the protection of human and civil rights in Iran.

The initiative, led by Co-Chairs from both Republican and Democratic parties, serves as a pivotal platform for Members of Congress to engage in substantive discussions on the evolving issues surrounding the well-being of Iranian dissidents. With a focus on critical areas such as protection, advocacy, and safeguarding dissidents from persecution, the Caucus collaborates with U.S. agencies and European allies to hold Iran accountable for its violations.

The full text of the mission statement follows:

 

Congressional Ashraf Protection & Rights Advocacy Caucus

MISSION STATEMENT

The bipartisan “Congressional ASHRAF Protection and Rights Advocacy Caucus” will be a platform through which Members of Congress can engage in substantive discussions regarding the evolving issues and developments concerning the well-being and challenges faced by Iranian dissidents residing in Ashraf-3, located in Albania.

By promoting dialogue and providing a regular flow of information, the caucus will furnish Members of Congress with a comprehensive repository of documentation that encompasses diverse perspectives, drawn from official U.S. and other governmental sources, non-governmental organizations, Iranian dissident groups, as well as leaders within the Iranian American community.

The Caucus will focus primarily on the following issue areas:

  • Protection and Advocacy for Iranian Dissidents: The Caucus will work to ensure the protection and advocacy for the rights of Iranian dissidents, including those living in Ashraf-3. This includes:
    • Collaborating with pertinent United States Government agencies to engage with European allies, particularly those situated in the Balkans where Iran’s influence has extended, in order to enforce accountability for Iran’s violations of diplomatic privileges. Further, advocates for nations to take measures aimed at curbing the nefarious activities conducted by the Iranian regime’s diplomatic missions, with the ultimate objective of their closure and the expulsion of associated agents.
    • Working with relevant United States Government agencies, to help our ally Albania, to ensure the full protection of the Iranian political refugees in Ashraf 3 in Albania and for them to benefit from all rights stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Convention on Civile and Political Rights, Geneva Convention 1951 and the European Convention on Human Rights, including the right to life, liberty, and security, and protection of property, as well as freedom of expression and assembly, the right to have access to internet and engage in lawful political activities to expose human rights violations in Iran and other malign activities of the Iranian regime including its use of terrorism and hostage-taking;
    • Safeguarding Iranian dissidents from persecution: The Caucus will work to ensure that Iranian dissidents, many of them former political prisoners, are safe from persecution by the Iranian regime, both within Iran and abroad.
    • Promoting the voices of Iranian dissidents: The Caucus will work to amplify the voices of Iranian dissidents in Ashraf-3 and ensure that their perspectives are heard by the international community.
    • Supporting Transnational Repression Accountability and Prevention (TRAP) Act with the intention to end the abuse of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) by autocrats misusing its detention mechanisms to pursue, harass, or persecute political opponents and dissidents including political refugees in Ashraf-3 with trumped up criminal charges. TRAP provision was passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 (section 6503(c), Public Law 117- 81).
    • Promoting human rights in Iran, by working with U.S. friends and allies, international institutions, non-governmental organizations, the business community, domestic and international coalitions, as well as victims of the Iranian regime’s rights violations to increase pressure on the government in Teheran to adhere to international norms for human and civil rights.
    • Engaging Albanian government and Ashraf City leaders including travel and visits with them in Albania, inviting dissidents in Ashraf-3 to address public events on Iran online, inviting international organizations and experts to document and examine threat vectors and attacks against the residents of Ashraf-3, and working with Members of Congress and their constituents to facilitate Congressional Delegation to Ashraf-3.
    • Supporting Iran Uprising for a Free Iran stands with the people of Iran who are legitimately defending their rights for freedom against repression, and condemns the brutal killing of Iranian protesters by the Iranian regime.
    • Supporting Iran’s democracy movement, including both those groups and individuals still based in Iran and abroad, as well as the expatriate Iranian community in the U.S., who want to establish a democratic, secular, no-nuclear and republic in Iran, support a third option, which does not involve a foreign war or appeasement, oppose any form of dictatorship, one-party system and support the Iranian protesters who have been deprived of their fundamental freedoms for which reason they are rejecting monarchic dictatorship and religious tyranny, as evident in their protest slogans.
    • Monitoring negative and destructive practices of the Iranian “Ministry of Intelligence and Security” and its subsidiaries such as the Nejat Association, particularly against the Ashraf-3 residents who are now residing in Albania, and other activities at odds with U.S. interests and values.

Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security was designated by the Treasury Department on September 9, 2022, for “engaging in cyber-enabled activities against the United States and its allies.”

The Risk of Terrorist Actions and Intelligence Operations of the Iranian “Security” Apparatus against the Iranian Opposition in Exile in 2022 (esisc.org)

The Caucus will work to provide its Members with information on developments in Iran, and the status of the political refugees residing in Ashraf-3, Albania through periodic briefings and written documentation; mobilizing support for legislative initiatives; organizing letters to the Administration and international bodies; convening press conferences and generating other media communications to heighten awareness of Iran issues; delivering floor speeches on Iran issues; organizing meetings with the Iranian opposition leaders and expatriates, who work for a democratic, republic Iran; arranging briefings by members of the Administration, non-governmental organizations, former officials, experts and academics; and commemorating significant events and special occasions of interest to the Iranian community.

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE AND BY-LAWS

The “Congressional ASHRAF Protection and Rights Advocacy Caucus” is a bipartisan Congressional Member Organization (CMO) of the United States Congress.

Its goals are to advocate for the protection of human and civil rights in Iran; monitor developments in Iran, particularly those that are counter to U.S. values and interests; work with other supporters of a freer and more democratic Iran; and develop policies that will maintain pressure on Iran’s government to live up to its responsibilities as a member of the international community.

The Caucus shall have two Co-Chairs, one Republican and one Democrat. The Co-Chairs shall have the authority to call meetings, schedule speakers and provide general organizational support for the Caucus. However, the Co-Chairs shall consult regularly with the other Members of the Caucus and keep them informed of their activities.