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UUSC Statement in Response to Recent Conflict with Iran

Sharing our perspective on the human rights implications of violence between the United States and Iran.

By UUSC Staff on January 7, 2020

We are saddened and outraged by the Trump administration’s decision on January 3, 2020 to order the killing by remote weapon of Iranian Major General Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad, Iraq. We acknowledge and condemn Suleimani’s prior role in stoking violence in the region. Nevertheless, wrongful actions by one party to a conflict can never justify violations of human rights and the laws of war by other parties.

By assassinating a high-ranking Iranian military leader, the U.S. government has gravely escalated conflict in the region. The Trump administration has also carried out a targeted killing without authorization from Congress, a judicial proceeding, or a formal declaration of war. We condemn this direct violation of international laws prohibiting extrajudicial killing—laws the United States expects other nations to abide by, but flagrantly ignores when it’s politically expedient.

We are devastated at the prospect of more violence—the prospect of war, the likelihood of increased Islamophobia within our own nation, and the inevitability of more people displaced by powerful interests acting without regard to human dignity and human rights.

The actions of the Trump administration and its threats toward Iran and toward Iranian Americans are a threat to all of us. The horrifying rhetoric we’re hearing from the White House about targeting cultural sites suggests not only a violation of international law, but a blatant attempt to create panic, division, and further violence.

We are deeply concerned as well by reports that in recent days, U.S. border officials have singled out people of Iranian heritage for aggressive scrutiny while traveling. Such actions are discriminatory and in direct violation of the human right to fair and equal treatment.

UUSC, founded 80 years ago as the Holocaust began, has consistently advocated for domestic leadership that prioritizes diplomacy and mutual cooperation for the preservation of communities and the prevention of violence.

At the start of a new decade and in this year of important national elections in the United States, UUSC calls on the country’s leaders to uphold international law, use diplomacy rather than violence, stop fueling fear and hatred of Muslims, and work collaboratively to address international points of contention.

In the shadow of an administration that has consistently shown indifference to the US historic commitments to human rights at home and abroad, UUSC and its members reaffirm our commitment to advance human rights and observe and respect the inherent dignity of all, regardless of nationality, religion, race, or creed.

Today, we call on people of faith and people of conscience to commit to solidarity with communities at risk of increased violence and to flank those who may fall victim to ignorance, bigotry, and inflammatory rhetoric. In particular, we invite communities of faith to use these resources to learn about the detrimental impacts of Islamophobia and how to best douse the fire of hatred with the nurturing balm of love, understanding, and acceptance.

Photo Credit: iStock – Gwengoat

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About UUSC: Guided by the belief that all people have inherent worth and dignity, UUSC advances human rights globally by partnering with affected communities who are confronting injustice, mobilizing to challenge oppressive systems, and inspiring and sustaining spiritually grounded activism for justice. We invite you to join us in this journey toward realizing a better future!

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