A group of a dozen Republican lawmakers are demanding a justification of the Biden administration’s decision to express condolences for the death of Iran’s President.

“It is highly inappropriate for the United States to express condolences for an individual that was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department and has extensive connections to terrorism,” the GOP members said in a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian were killed on May 19, when the helicopter they were traveling in reportedly crashed over East Azerbaijan in Iran. The exact circumstances of the crash are not yet clear.

Often called the “Butcher of Tehran” Raisi sat on a “Death Commission” in 1988 whereby he persecuted and signed off on the extrajudicial killing of thousands of Iranian dissidents.

Following the news of the deaths of the two officials, Iranians, both within the country and abroad, took to social media to express their jubilation. Many shared videos of themselves dancing and cheering, and in some parts of Iran, fireworks were set off in celebration.

In response, the authorities in Iran have since begun a campaign of threats and arrests of dissidents and their families, as revealed by Iran International this week.

In their letter, posted on X by Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, the Republican members pointed out that in 2019, Raisi was added to the OFAC Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List, which targets terrorists and criminals with sanctions like asset freezes and business bans.

They note that Raisi remained on the list under the Biden administration due to his extensive criminal behavior and call the decision to express condolences for such an individual “shameful.”

“President Raisi was a despotic tyrant whose rule directly led to the murder of thousands of innocent individuals and the maiming, repression, and subjugation of the Iranian people,” the lawmakers wrote demanding a “full explanation” by June 5.

In a post on X, Representative Peter Stauber, who also signed the letter, rebuked the condolences, saying that offering them “for the death of this monster is a new low for this Administration.”

Separately on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended his department’s decision to express “official condolences” to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, calling it the “normal course of business.”

“We expressed official condolences as we’ve done when countries — adversaries, enemies, or not — have lost leaders.”

“It changes nothing about the fact that Mr. Raisi was engaged in reprehensible conduct, including repressing his own people for many years,” Blinken said.

In addition to his involvement in human rights abuses in 1988, the letter detailed Raisi’s actions during the 2009 Green Movement crackdown, and his support for other violent crackdowns on protests, such as those following the 2022 death of Mahsa Jina Amini.


Source » iranintl