Taking Action for the Iranian Community

Congresswoman Porter has been unwavering in her solidarity with the brave protestors in Iran fighting for their fundamental rights and freedoms, and she’s taken concrete action to support them. 

On September 16, 2022, Mahsa Amini—a 22-year-old woman—died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police. The morality police, responsible for enforcing Iran’s strict dress code, arrested Amini for how she chose to wear her hijab. Less than two hours later, she was rushed unconscious to a nearby hospital, where witnesses saw bruising on her body, indicating that she was beaten while in custody. Within hours of her death, millions of Iranians stood up and led chants such as “Death to the dictator” to protest the regime’s violence against women. The bravery of Iranian women has captivated the global community and inspired protests in Orange County, which Congresswoman Porter has joined.

To many Iranians, these protests represent something more: a decades-long struggle against repression and threats to basic freedoms. Iranians are standing up to demand change for themselves, their families, and their country. They are doing this in spite of the regime’s extreme crackdown on citizens: restricting access to the Internet; arresting protestors and journalists; and unleashing violence on its own people. As a college professor and mother, Congresswoman Porter has been particularly concerned about reports that security forces used teargas and force to harm young student protestors.

Congresswoman Porter has consistently stood in solidarity with the Iranian community and taken public actions to condemn the regime’s actions. Shortly after Mahsa Amini’s killing, she joined community members to rally for change. Congresswoman Porter joined Democrats and Republicans in passing a bipartisan resolution supporting protestors in Iran and pushing the Administration to take stronger action. She took to the House floor to condemn the killing of 9-year-old Kian Pirfalak by Iran’s security forces, and a second time to support new sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.  She helped pass the Masih Alinejad Harassment and Unlawful Targeting Act into law, which sanctions individuals working with the Iranian regime to target human rights activists, members of the Iranian diaspora, and other dissidents. She also cosponsored the Mahsa Amini Human rights and Accountability Security (MAHSA) Act to codify sanctions on the Iranian regime’s leadership, appointees, and affiliates.

After hearing from community members that important coverage of Iranian protests was suppressed on social media, Congresswoman Porter led a bipartisan effort to get answers. She pushed Meta—the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp—to protect the free speech of protestors on its platforms. She also joined calls for tech companies to make full use of the Biden Administration’s eased restrictions to expand Iranians’ access to online tools and services. A free internet and secure communications between citizens are essential for Iranians to organize, document human rights abuses, and amplify their message with the global community. 

Under the U.S. Constitution, the Executive Branch has broad authority to set our foreign policy. Congresswoman Porter has used her platform in Congress to urge the Biden Administration to do more to protect Iranians’ rights and freedoms. On October 14, 2022, Congresswoman Porter brought President Biden to Orange County; as she promised to constituents, Congresswoman Porter spoke directly to the President and emphasized the importance of his personal leadership on this important issue. As a result of their conversation, the President spoke to the Orange County community about his Administration’s support for the Iranian people. Congresswoman Porter has cosponsored legislation pushing the White House to secure release of all political prisoners in Iran; she also pushed to remove Iran from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which the Administration followed through on after her advocacy.

Congresswoman Porter will continue fighting for the accountability and change that the Iranian people deserve. Amid reports that Iran is sentencing protestors to death, she spoke up for tightening sanctions on human rights violators. She also worked with the State Department to brief Members of Congress on Iran’s crackdown on protests, so that she and her colleagues could have up-to-date information on how to best support the protestors, promote human rights, and hold this dangerous regime accountable.