Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Please Support Common Dreams This #GivingTuesday

Our staff has grown and our coverage of the climate emergency, COVID-19, and rising authoritarianism has intensified over the last two years. But, our expenses during the pandemic have gone up as well. This has been one of the toughest years we’ve ever faced. Donations are down. Traffic to the website from Google and Facebook have inexplicably fallen off a cliff. If we have any chance of meeting our fundraising targets for the year, we need this to be the best #GivingTuesday ever. Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers ever make a donation. We're counting on you. Can you make that gift today to help Common Dreams end the year strong?

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

Iranians wait to get prescription drugs at the state-run "13 Aban" pharmacy in Tehran on Feb. 19, 2020.

Iranians wait to get prescription drugs at the state-run "13 Aban" pharmacy in Tehran on Feb. 19, 2020. Iranians had been suffering from scarce medicine supplies even before the new coronavirus COVID-19 broke out in the central city of Qom and spread, claiming several lives and fostering panic amid a shortage of face masks. (Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

'In This Dark Hour for the Iranian People,' Groups Demand Trump End Inhumane Sanctions Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

"Doing so would not just serve U.S. interests in helping contain the further spread of the virus, but would also be a powerful humanitarian gesture to the more than 80 million Iranians suffering under the pandemic."

Jessica Corbett

More than two dozen U.S. organizations came together Friday to pressure the Trump administration to recognize the coronavirus pandemic as a "shared threat" and temporarily ease economic sanctions on Iran, one of the countries hardest hit by the disease with nearly 20,000 COVID-19 cases and over 1,400 deaths.

"With hospitals overrun and Iranian doctors struggling to procure necessary equipment, the U.S. must be part of the solution rather than part of the problem."
—Jamal Abdi, NIAC Action
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Action and 25 other groups sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Secretary of state Mike Pompeo which emphasized the importance of "global solutions" and explained that "easing sanctions is one simple step that can be taken to serve the interests of the Iranian people and public health across the globe."

The Trump administration has increasingly ramped up sanctions on Iran since the president ditched the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018. Pompeo announced the most recent wave of U.S. sanctions on the country Wednesday amid reports about how previous sanctions had already devastated Iran's economy and healthcare system, hampering the Iranian government's response to the deadly outbreak.

"To help stem the continued spread of the virus inside Iran and beyond, we urge you to issue a time-bound suspension of those U.S. sanctions that make it harder for ordinary Iranians to secure basic goods and services to weather the crisis," the groups' letter says. "Doing so would not just serve U.S. interests in helping contain the further spread of the virus, but would also be a powerful humanitarian gesture to the more than 80 million Iranians suffering under the pandemic."

The letter acknowledges that "some limited steps have already been taken, including licensing humanitarian trade with the Central Bank of Iran and encouraging foreign banks and governments to establish humanitarian channels with Iran," but calls for greater action. Specifically, the groups suggest suspending many of the sanctions "for a period of at least 120 days, including those sanctions affecting Iran's financial and oil sectors and its civilian industries."

Along with NIAC Action, the letter's signatories include CodePink, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Demand Progress Education Fund, Greenpeace USA, Institute for Policy Studies, Just Foreign Policy, MoveOn, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Ploughshares Fund, and Win Without War. Some organizations have been critical of U.S. sanctions on Iran more broadly and called for them to be permanently ended.

In a statement accompanying the letter, NIAC Action executive director Jamal Abdi said that "the Trump administration's current unwillingness to significantly ease sanctions on Iran during this time of crisis is like rubbing salt into a gaping wound. With hospitals overrun and Iranian doctors struggling to procure necessary equipment, the U.S. must be part of the solution rather than part of the problem."

"As COVID-19 rips through country after country, Iran's experience has been particularly devastating," Abdi noted. "While advanced medical systems across Western Europe seem to be collapsing under the weight of patients infected with the virus, Iranians have had to contend with both their own government's negligence and crushing sanctions that slow the response and punish ordinary Iranians."

He added that "humanitarian assistance shouldn't come with strings attached, and we are all at risk from the pandemic regardless of nationality. We call on the administration to ease its sanctions policy so that all resources are available to fight the pandemic in this dark hour for the Iranian people."

The organizations behind the letter aren't alone in calling for a suspension of the sanctions. Russia and China—along with some U.S. lawmakers—have publicly pressured the Trump administration, and the Guardian reported Wednesday that "the U.K. is privately pressing the U.S. to ease sanctions on Iran to help it fight the growing coronavirus outbreak."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

WHO, South Africa Urge Nations to Lift 'Naive' Omicron Travel Bans

"The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic."

Brett Wilkins ·


EU Joins Rights Group in Condemning Israel's 'Day of Destruction' of Palestinian Homes

"Demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace."

Brett Wilkins ·


GOP 'Silence Speaks Volumes,' Says Ilhan Omar as Boebert's Bigotry Goes Unpunished

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Brett Wilkins ·


Africans Should Be 'Applauded, Not Punished,' Say Advocates Amid Omicron Travel Ban

"What is going on right now is inevitable," said African Union Vaccine Delivery Alliance co-chair Dr. Ayoade Alakija. "It's a result of the world's failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent, and speedy manner."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo