Measure calls out Biden admin for lowering death count in official report
Adam Kredo • November 17, 2021 4:59 am
House lawmakers on Wednesday will unveil a resolution that marks the two-year anniversary of the Iranian government’s brutal crackdown on protesters, which took the lives of more than 1,500 anti-regime demonstrators.
The resolution, which is being spearheaded by Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R., Minn.) and a coalition of 24 Republican lawmakers, condemns the Iranian regime’s brutal 2019 crackdown on protesters who stormed the streets in anger over the country’s ailing economy, which was suffering under the weight of U.S. sanctions. Some of those sanctions have been unwound by the Biden administration as it seeks to strike a revamped version of the 2015 nuclear accord.
The resolution, a copy of which was exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, also calls out the Biden administration’s State Department for altering a Trump-era report that acknowledged the more-than-1,500 citizens, including 400 women and 17 children, who were killed. The Biden administration in March revised that report, lowering the death count to 304. Republican hawks see this revision as an attempt by the Biden administration to whitewash the Iranian regime’s mass human rights abuses.
The resolution would stand as Congress’s first official recognition of the 2019 massacre, which became known among the Iranian dissident community as “Bloody November.” The measure also takes direct aim at the Iranian regime’s ongoing human rights abuses and efforts to stamp out any signs of unrest. Republicans are expected to overwhelmingly support the measure, while Democrats are expected to vote against it to avoid agitating Tehran as the Biden administration pursues diplomacy with the regime.
“President Trump’s State Department released a report that confirmed 1,500 civilians were killed, yet the Biden Administration chose to minimize the severity of this attack by revising the initial report with a lower death toll,” Hagedorn told the Free Beacon. “This false narrative being pushed by the Biden Administration is a slap in the face to all those who were killed that day as well as their families. We are urging this administration to revise its report to accurately reflect the lives that were lost in this deadly massacre.”
One provision of the measure explicitly calls out the Biden administration for lowering the official estimate of those killed during the 2019 crackdown.
“In March 2021, the Department of State under the Biden administration released a revised report of the November 2019 protests that lowered the death toll from the confirmed 1,500 to a revised 304,” the measure states. “The move by the Biden administration underscores its commitment to appeasing the Iranian regime.”
It goes on to “strongly [urge] the Department of State to restore the recognized death toll of the November 11, 2019, massacre to 1,500.”
When asked about the revised report, a State Department spokesman told the Free Beacon that the United States is relying on incomplete numbers published by the human rights group and that they “acknowledge the figure could be significantly higher.”
“As the United Nations has noted, there has been no transparent or independent government investigation into these events, which deprives the Iranian people of justice and the international community of a clear sense of what happened,” the spokesman said. “An Amnesty International report issued in 2020 provided in-depth documentation of 304 deaths. We, the U.N., and others acknowledge the figure could be significantly higher.
The State Department also said the administration condemns “in the strongest terms the Iranian regime’s brutal repression of protests in November 2019.” U.S. officials are monitoring media reports, information from human rights group, and the United Nations’ investigation into the massacre, the spokesman said.
The congressional measure would also codify into the congressional record a recognition that “the vast majority of Iranians living in Iran do not support the authoritarian dictatorship of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and do not have access to basic human rights.”