11/24/2014 02:48 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2015

The Road to Human Rights in Iran- Are We There Yet?

For too long since the onset of the vital nuclear negotiations, human rights issues have been relegated to the sidelines in order for negotiators to maintain a singular focus on obtaining a viable nuclear deal. However as the deadline for negotiations is approaching, it is important to note that while nuclear talks are welcome and warranted, they will not necessarily advance human rights in Iran. Presenting the promise of improved human rights as a secondary benefit of the nuclear negotiations in the future is an optimistic assessment.

Based on our experience and assessments, we maintain that achieving progress toward human rights requires more sustained effort and determination by all the stakeholders.

Congress, by passing resolution HRes 754 articulated grave concerns regarding human rights in Iran that the international community must recognize upon the conclusion of the nuclear talks. Iranian-Americans should take pride in the evolution of a diplomatic process to resolve the conflicts between our two countries. We must also express our firm support for human rights and the bipartisan efforts that were led by the Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel to advance them. Thanks to the democratic process and our true separation of powers we can explore diplomatic efforts that go beyond the false dichotomy of "deal or war" policy options.

As observers of human rights violations and their effects on Iran's women, minorities and LGBT communities, we have noted sustained levels of injustice and deprivation against minorities. We maintain that fundamental violations of human rights in Iran stem from discriminatory laws that have become institutionalized and perpetuated structural violence. The road to achieving full human rights in Iran may seem long, but adherence to at least a minimum standard for human rights as recommended in the Universal Declaration for Human Rights would be a suitable starting point in this pursuit. Though sporadic changes in the treatment of Iran's citizens are welcome, it is important to note that Iran's constitution must ultimately accept all of its citizens as equals.

We offer these suggestions, in the spirit of collaboration and our common values and fundamental support for both countries, we commend the efforts of the US lawmakers and welcome the opportunities to explore constructive and peaceful solutions that benefit both Iranians and Americans.