Joe Biden marks the anniversary of Mahsa Amini's death in Iranian custody by talking tough on Tehran

Joe Biden marks the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death in Iranian custody by talking tough on Tehran

President Biden marked the anniversary of the death of Mahsa “Zhina” Amini, the 22-year-old who died in the custody of Iranian morality police last year, by pledging to support the Iranian people as he faces criticism at home over a prisoner swap with Tehran.

Amini’s death on Sept. 16, 2022, sparked huge protests across Iran in support of women’s rights and a brutal crackdown from the Islamic Republic’s government.

“Mahsa’s story did not end with her brutal death. She inspired a historic movement — Woman, Life, Freedom — that has impacted Iran and influenced people across the globe who are tirelessly advocating for gender equality and respect for their human rights,” Mr. Biden said Friday. “In the face of continued oppression and violence, the citizens of Iran remain committed to this movement and to their fight for a free and democratic future. Iranians alone will determine the fate of their country, but, the United States remains committed to standing with them—including providing tools to support Iranians’ ability to advocate for their own future.”

Mr. Biden hailed Iranian’s resiliency as Republicans and others accuse him of bowing to pressure from Tehran.

The U.S. recently struck a deal to free five prisoners in exchange for five Iranian-Americans held in Tehran and the release of billions in assets being held in South Korea, without fear of U.S. sanctions over the money transfer.

“I remain deeply concerned that the administration’s decision to waive sanctions to facilitate the transfer of $6 billion in funds for Iran, the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism, creates a direct incentive for America’s adversaries to conduct future hostage-taking,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, Texas Republican, said.

Mr. Biden on Friday insisted his administration has been a thorn in Tehran’s side and an ally to the Iranian people.

He pointed to an “unprecedented diplomatic campaign” to oust the Iranian government from the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, and the creation of a fact-finding mission to investigate Iran’s human rights abuses.

He also said his administration plans to slap new sanctions on bad actors in the Middle East nation.

“We have helped a growing number of human rights activists find safe haven in the United States, “Mr. Biden said. “We made it easier for Iranians to access the internet: At the height of the protests, 30 million Iranians — nearly one in three — were using U.S.-supported anti-censorship tools. We have also sanctioned over 70 Iranian individuals and entities responsible for supporting the regime’s oppression of its people. And today, we are announcing additional sanctions targeting some of Iran’s most egregious human rights abusers.”