U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott are leading an effort to block Iran’s president from making an in-person appearance at the UN next month, saying his presence on American soil would present an “inexcusable threat to national security.”
Rubio and Scott, both Republicans from Florida, were among seven GOP senators who last week called on President Joe Biden to deny temporary visas to Iran’s president and his delegation for the UN General Assembly session in New York City.
Their letter to Biden urged the president to recognize Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s “involvement in mass murder” as well as his nation’s “campaign to assassinate U.S. officials on American soil.”
“Raisi’s record as a violator of human rights is long-standing and clear,” they wrote.
The senators note in the letter that Raisi in 1988 served as the deputy prosecutor in Tehran, where he participated in a “Death Commission” that sentenced roughly 5,000 political prisoners to death, with women and children among them.
The international group Human Rights Watch released a report on the Death Commission in June. “There is overwhelming evidence and consensus among Iran historians, human rights researchers, and policy analysts that these mass executions occurred, and Human Rights Watch believes these heinous acts amount to crimes against humanity,” the report noted.
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During this reign of terror, Iran’s government “interrogated prisoners about their political beliefs and categorized them according to the degree of their perceived loyalty to Iran’s rulers,” the group reported. For those who didn’t exhibit sufficient loyalty, the report added, “Iranian authorities executed thousands of prisoners in violation of their fundamental rights with no access to a fair judicial process.”
The GOP lawmakers maintained Raisi is proud of this moment. In 2018, they pointed out, Raisi referred to it as “divine punishment.” They said Raisi continued to persecute Iranians with “extrajudicial prosecution,” to such an extent that the Trump administration sanctioned him for “gross human rights abuses.”
They also called attention to a March report by the Washington Examiner that asserted the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps sought to assassinate former National Security Adviser John Bolton, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Gen. Ken McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
The lawmakers said Iran continues to plot against American officials.
“The White House must deny Raisi and other Iranian officials visas to attend” the assembly, the senators wrote. “Allowing Raisi to travel to the United States – while his agents actively work to assassinate senior American officials – would gravely endanger our national security…. Furthermore, granting a mass murderer like Raisi a visa to enter our country would also legitimize his repression. It is a risk we cannot and should not take.”
“Raisi’s role in the regime’s brutal human rights abuses and Iran’s continuing efforts to murder American officials should more than disqualify him from receiving a visa to enter the United States.”
Besides Rubio and Scott, the letter was also signed by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton, Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, Ted Cruz and Marsha Blackburn.