In an effort to highlight the human rights implications of the proposed nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations, dozens of Iranian civil society leaders and pro-democracy activists have launched a new social media campaign expressing their support for the deal in a series of short, moving videos.
Many of the campaign's participants have been persecuted in Iran for their beliefs or activism, sentenced to house arrest or lengthy prison terms. Others who recorded videos include celebrated filmmaker Jafar Panahi, Nobel peace prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, and human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. One renowned Iranian political prisoner, Zia Nabavi—currently serving a sentence of ten years on charges of "creating unease in the public mind"—recorded his message from inside a prison cell.
"While one cannot be sure of what the future may hold, it can be said that the Iran Deal is a better choice for all of us as it demonstrates a more hopeful and a more peaceful tomorrow," Nabavi says.
"Those who have paid the highest price for the cause of democracy and human rights in Iran support the nuclear deal, not despite their pro-democracy and human rights activism, but precisely because of it."
—Mohamadreza Jalaeipour, Green Movement
"I support the Iran deal because I strongly believe that sanctions are violating the human rights of the Iranian people and more importantly because I support security and peace," says Ghoncheh Ghavami, the British-Iranian student who was jailed in 2014 for trying to attend a men's volleyball game. "It's time for Americans to contact their represenatives in the Congress and ask them to vote for peace. The whole world is watching."
Despite a well-funded opposition campaign, the Obama administration is "clearly winning the battle over the Iran deal," National Iranian American Council (NIAC) president Trita Parsi declared on Tuesday, and it has done so "largely by focusing on the undeniable non-proliferation benefits of the deal."
"Put simply," Parsi wrote, "the deal ensures that two disasters are avoided: The disaster of Iran getting a nuclear bomb and the disaster of going to war with Iran."
But there are "numerous other benefits with this deal," he continued. "Dividends that the Obama administration have not relied on to sell the deal, but that are equally valid. One of them is how it improves the prospects for Iran moving in a positive direction internally—in terms of democratization and human rights."
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And that aspect is what the new video campaign aims to underscore.
"We did this to show the American public and the world that not only the overwhelming majority of Iranians, but also almost all leading Iranian human rights and pro-democracy activists, political prisoners and independent voices of Iran's civil society wholeheartedly support the Iran Deal," Mohamadreza Jalaeipour, a former political prisoner who is at the helm of the video project, explained to Parsi.
"Those who have paid the highest price for the cause of democracy and human rights in Iran support the nuclear deal, not despite their pro-democracy and human rights activism, but precisely because of it," he said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) formally announced Tuesday that she would support the agreement, which Politico noted brings the Obama administration closer to the 34 votes needed in the Senate to sustain any presidential veto of the resolution of disapproval on the nuclear deal.
"I support this deal because I believe it puts us in a better and stronger position to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons now and in the future," Murray said. "This deal gives us more tools to respond—not less, and it keeps the international community behind us in that effort."
Now, "[j]ust five more Senators need to endorse the agreement to ensure that a forthcoming resolution of disapproval can be blocked," NIAC Action said in a press statement.
"This deal is proving that it can stand on its own merits, but the battle is far from won," NIAC Action said. "Opponents of the agreement are already looking to additional legislation that could complicate implementation and kill the deal. The more lawmakers that come out in support now, the stronger the firewall to protect the agreement in the future. It's time for other key Senators who have not announced their decision...to give peace a chance by publicly endorsing this deal."