I call this meeting to order.
Before we begin, I want to note that we are undertaking the second of two days of hearings as part of this subcommittee's annual Iran Accountability Week.
The past year has seen an intensification of human rights abuses and repression in Iran, including execution and torture, and the further diminishment of political and civil rights. As Iran prepares for presidential elections on May 19, the list of human rights abuses keeps growing.
On Tuesday, we heard from distinguished human rights activist and lawyer Irwin Cotler, who told us of the “fivefold threat” presented by Khamenei's regime in Iran and the mass repression faced by the Iranian people, in particular the impunity with which the regime abuses Iranians and imprisons its opposition, and the important value that an occasion like today's hearing has in supporting the Iranian people and pressuring Khamenei's regime.
We also heard from Corrine Box of the Baha'i Community of Canada, who described the institutionalized and socially accepted discrimination and persecution faced by the Baha'i in Iran, including economic, political, social, and educational exclusion, and the great resilience the Baha'i in Iran have shown in persevering through these abuses.
The criminalization of dissent has intensified, and the persistent oppression of minority communities, including members of Iran's LGBTQ community and Iranian women, continues unabated. We, the human rights subcommittee, want to be on record as saying that human rights abuses in Iran are always top of mind. We want to express our solidarity with the people of Iran, including political prisoners, prisoners of conscience, and the human rights defenders who tirelessly work in Iran and abroad, and at great personal cost, for the promotion, protection, and respect of human rights in their country.
During today's hearing, part of our focus will be on the grave human rights abuses faced by LGBTQ individuals and communities in Iran. On today's panel, we have Arsham Parsi, executive director of the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees, by video conference from Toronto; Kimahli Powell, executive director of the Rainbow Railroad; and as a last-minute addition, someone to whom we are very grateful for appearing by video conference from Lahore, Pakistan, Asma Jahangir, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.
I'll ask the witnesses to please keep their opening remarks to five minutes each so that we have enough time for members' questions.
Mr. Parsi, if you'd like, you can start with your opening remarks. Then we'll move to Mr. Powell, and finish with Ms. Jahangir.
Thank you very much for being here with us today.