By staff and agency

Over 70 civil society groups urge Trump to end Iran sanctions

April 24, 2020 - 23:31

Over 70 civil society groups representing more than 40 million people urged U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday to issue immediate sanctions relief for numerous countries, including Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea, for at least the duration of the coronavirus crisis which threatens to kill thousands in the hard-hit countries.

According to Common Dreams, the “urgent appeal” came in the form of an open letter sent by the groups to Trump, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, calling for curtailing the sanctions regime for the duration of the pandemic.

Entitled “Lift Sanctions, Save Lives,” the initiative is aimed at ensuring the economic warfare by the U.S. claims as few lives as possible as the nations fight off the health crisis.

“Denying people access to lifesaving resources now represents a risk to the entire world,” said Daniel Jasper of the American Friends Service Committee, a signatory to the letter. “The U.S. must rethink its approach to sanctions.”

According to a press release accompanying the letter, “The letter puts forth a framework for universal safeguards that include six specific categories. These include aid that is directly related to containing and providing treatment for COVID-19 (such as testing kits, personal protective equipment, ventilators, etc.). The letter also calls for safeguarding aid needed to address simultaneous challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, such as providing adequate water supply, food security, and urgent health services for other infectious diseases.”

Peace Action senior policy director Paul Kawika Martin said, “Sanctions kill innocents indiscriminately just like bombs.”

“During this pandemic crisis, the U.S. needs to remove all barriers, like sanctions, so countries can counteract COVID-19,” he said.

The letter also emphasizes the risks of “over-compliance” on the part of companies and financial institutions overly cautious in the face of sanctions. That can lead to more pain and suffering, said CodePink Latin America Campaign coordinator Teri Mattson.

“Banks often block purchases for these items out of fear of running afoul of sanctions, in what is known as over-compliance,” said Mattson. “Over-compliance is one of the many ways that innocent civilians end up being harmed by sanctions regimes.”

Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden said on April 2 that Trump’s administration must ease economic sanctions on Iran as a humanitarian gesture during the global coronavirus pandemic.

He said the U.S. has a moral obligation to be among the first to offer aid to people in need regardless of where they live when confronting a virus that knows no borders or political affiliations, according to Aljazeera.

Iran is one of the countries hit hard by the deadly coronavirus.

Chris Murphy, the U.S. senator from Connecticut, warned on April 13 that the Trump administration could be partially responsible for “the death of innocent people” if it continues its current policies towards Iran amidst the epidemic.

“If this epidemic continues to grow and spread in Iran it will…result in the death of innocent people, partially as a result of U.S. policy that does not accrue to the national security benefit of our country,” he told reporters on a conference call, The National Interest reported.

“Remember, if we don’t beat it there, we don’t beat it here. This virus doesn’t respect borders,” he added. “It’s just good public health policy to help even our adversaries beat back this scourge.”

Murphy had penned a March 26 letter, signed by ten other Democratic senators, asking the Trump administration to ensure that Iran and Venezuela can import medical supplies and other humanitarian goods to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

Murphy also wrote on his Twitter page on April 6 that Iranians are dying of coronavirus partly because of U.S. sanctions. 

“Innocent civilians are dying there in part because our sanctions are limiting humanitarian aid during coronavirus,” he tweeted.

Donald Trump’s administration is not only refusing to remove its illegal sanctions on Iran, but it is also blocking Tehran’s efforts to get an emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund to cope with the coronavirus crisis.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein in a letter has urged Trump not to block Iran's access to a $5 billion loan from the IMF to help fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

“I am disappointed to see reports that your administration intends to block Iran from receiving $5 billion in humanitarian aid from the IMF to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” Feinstein wrote in her letter to Trump. 

“Providing these funds to Iran would help it respond more effectively to the disease and mitigate the risk of further destabilization in the region,” she added.

Iran applied for emergency IMF funding in March to help it fight the coronavirus outbreak. Washington has indicated it will block IMF funding for Iran.

NA/PA

Leave a Comment

6 + 6 =