Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ben Cardin, says he’s not familiar with the MAHSA Act, an Iran sanction bill that activists say he’s blocking.

The bipartisan Mahsa Amini Human rights and Security Accountability Act (MAHSA Act) passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming majority in September 2023, but has not yet been moved forward for a vote in the Senate.

It is named after the 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian girl whose death in hijab police custody in September 2022 sparked country-wide protests, challenging the clerical regime like never before.

Iranian-American activists blame Senator Cardin for the grounding of the MAHSA Act –a bill that aims to codify sanctions on the offices of the President and the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

But Senator Cardin seemed to be unaware of any such legislation, when approached by Iran International’s Arash Alaei at the Capitol on Tuesday.

“First, we’re not blocking any legislation,” Cardin said. “There is an order to how we bring up legislation… So, I’m not familiar with this bill, when it’s going to be coming up.”

His response baffled and angered many Iranian-American activists.

“It’s almost laughable,” wrote one activist on X, “after months of back-and-forth emails between activists and his legislative team, several meetings, protest’s outside of his DC office? Senator Cardin is unfamiliar.”

As the chairman of the influential Foreign Relations Committee, the Democratic Senator is ultimately responsible for marking up the bill for a vote.

Last December, Cardin’s staff confirmed in a brief email that there were no plans to “move forward with the bill.” This spurred a group of Iranian-American activists to gather in front of his office two weeks ago, protesting what they see as a deliberate attempt to halt the bipartisan initiative.

Senator Cardin rejected this in his interview with Iran International, suggesting that he had not heard of the MAHSA Act, and that any delay was a matter of “procedure”.

“I’m afraid Senator Cardin is very familiar with the MAHSA Act,” wrote another activist on X. “We sent several petition letters with 117 signatories from MD and 405 signatories from 33 other states. We have email correspondence that goes back to July 2023 with his staff. A few of us met with his staff on zoom on 8/10/23. Then on 12/21/23 we finally received this response after 4 months of being completely ignored.”

Since Mahsa Amini’s killing by Iran’s hijab police, and the ensuing protests in which the regime killed around 550 civilians and blinded and maimed many more, Iranian-American activists have been trying to fight human rights abuses in Iran; hence the MAHSA Act.

At dawn Tuesday morning Iran time, the regime executed another young protester, Mohammad Ghobadlou, despite the fact that his sentence had been overturned by the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Court.

The execution highlighted the importance of pressuring the regime in Iran through such punitive measures as the MAHSA Act.

“Mohammad Ghobadlu’s execution is an extrajudicial killing according to international law and the Islamic Republic’s own laws,” Mahmoud Amiry-Moghaddam, director of the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR NGO) said, demanding that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and its judiciary to be held accountable for the execution.

In Washington, Senator Cardin tried to reassure the public that everything possible would be done to effect positive change in Iran.

“Iran’s actions are horrible,” he said. “We’ve taken extreme steps. We’ve imposed the maximum amount of sanctions that we’ve imposed against a country. We continue to look for additional ways to put additional pressure on Iran to stop its nefarious activities.”

Many Iranian activists have become increasingly critical of the Biden administration –and by extension, the Democratic party– for what they believe is “appeasement” of the regime ruling in Iran. Some say that Senator Cardin, a senior Democratic party member, would prefer to go along with Biden’s diplomatic soft approach with Iran.

Cardin, however, claimed that he was prepared “to take additional steps” against Iran. “We’ve already taken a lot of steps,” the Senator said. “But make no mistake about it: we’ll do everything we possibly can to isolate Iran and what it’s doing.”

Source » iranintl