The Huffington Post: Who Are You Really Sanctioning, Mr. Obama?

Dear President Obama,

Many Iranians, including Iranian-Americans such as myself, were delighted to hear your address to the Iranian people on the Persian New Year this March. We sincerely appreciated your well wishes for the New Year, but we appreciated even more your comments regarding a new American commitment to helping the Iranian people.

In your statement, you said the following:

“[E]ven as we continue to have differences with the Iranian government, we will sustain our commitment to a more hopeful future for the Iranian people. For instance, by increasing opportunities for educational exchanges so that Iranian students can come to our colleges and universities and to our efforts to ensure that Iranians can have access to the software and Internet technology that will enable them to communicate with each other, and with the world without fear of censorship.”

Today, however, over two months since you made these comments, as the eve of the first anniversary of the fraudulent June 12th election rapidly approaches, we have yet to see any actions by your administration toward living up to these commitments. In fact, we have seen quite the opposite, as your focus—indeed, your obsession—has consistently and myopically revolved around an alleged Iranian nuclear program and ever-increasing sanctions. As you are busy pushing for a new fourth round of UN sanctions, the Iranian people are busy fighting the so-called Islamic Republic, amid a suffocating cloud of censorship, tear gas, illegal detentions, fear-campaigns, executions and torture.

I fear, Mr. President, that yet another round of sanctions will not suffocate the Iranian regime so much as the Iranian people, who are already suffering the consequences of high inflation, poverty and unemployment. Even more so, I fear that such sanctions will make the types of educational exchanges and free passage of information of which you spoke so eloquently in March significantly less likely and feasible.

Hence, today, as the Iranian pro-democracy Green Movement plans for renewed protests marking the anniversary of the election and as the regime continues to censor media and block internet access, I ask you to reevaluate your position on sanctions. I ask that you recall your New Year’s statements and that you consider them just as seriously as you continue to consider and impose further sanctions.

I promise you, Mr. President, that the greatest hope for the future of Iran lies in the education of its young people and their ability to use free-flowing communication systems to counter crippling state censorship. The threat of further sanctions on the self-proclaimed Islamic Republic of Iran pales in comparison to the threat of an even more educated Iranian populace with greater access to communication and fewer restrictions on their civil and human liberties to freely express their minds without fear of retribution.

It is for this reason, Mr. President, that I beg you to stand behind your noble New Year’s pledge and to take active steps toward making such educational exchanges and free-flowing media and communication available to the Iranian people. As you continue to consider the role of seemingly endless sanctions against the Iranian regime, please know that it is your action with respect to the promises you made to the Iranian people this March that matters most in creating a free and democratic Iran and thus, protecting our national and global security.

Your words won over the hearts and minds of so many Iranians all over the world this spring. I just hope that, as summer approaches, you will live up to those words before even more innocent Iranians have to suffer at the hands of their increasingly brutal and illegitimate regime.

Melody Moezzi