Take Action to Help Bring Bijan’s Killers to Justice

We demand justice for Bijan Ghaisar, who was killed by two U.S. Park Police Officers in November 2017.

The officers are Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard. Bijan was unarmed and sitting in his car, when Amaya and Vinyard shot him nine times through the driver’s seat window, including four shots to the head. Bijan died ten days later from those horrendous head wounds. Both men are still on the payroll of the U.S. Park Police.

You can find a good update and overview of the case from the Washington Post here.

Will you help us by filing a complaint against Officers Amaya and Vinyard? We are determined to have these officers removed from the U.S. Park Police.

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Go to the Park Police web page for filing a complaint.
  2. Scroll down to this line: “By emailing your complaint. Click here to email your complaint.
  3. Click on the link. Fill in the contact information on the form.
  4. For Subject of your email: Remove Officers Who Killed Bijan Ghaisar.
  5. In the Your Message box of the form, cut and paste the below message (see below).
  6. Please email info@avalaninstitute.com and let them know you submitted a complaint so they can document the campaign.

This complaint is filed against U.S. Park Police (USPP) Officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard for the unjust killing of an unarmed young man, Bijan Ghaisar, in November 2017.

I am requesting that these two officers be removed from the force immediately. Officers Amaya and Vinyard’s continued employment with a federal law enforcement agency is a significant and direct threat to the public’s safety, and I would fear for my life if they approached me anywhere in or around Washington, D.C, Virginia or Maryland.

On November 17, 2017, USPP Officers Alejandro Amaya (badge #40) and Lucas Vinyard (badge #642) aggressively pursued 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar until they cornered him at the intersection of Fort Hood Road and Alexandria Avenue in Fairfax County and shot at him nine times — execution style — as he sat unarmed in his Jeep.

These out-of-control officers pursued Bijan after he was reported to be the victim of a minor traffic accident. A minor traffic accident. Bijan was hit by another driver from behind. No one was injured. Why was he pursued so aggressively? Why did they shoot at an unarmed man nine times?

The shooting was captured on dashboard video camera by the Fairfax County Police Department. The video shows that when he was shot, Bijan was sitting in his car after a chase by Officers Amaya and Vinyard — who approach his vehicle with guns drawn and begin shooting through the closed window.

What Officers Amaya and Vinyard did violated USPP use of force policy which states that force may only be used “when the officer has a reasonable belief . . . that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm to the officer or to another person.”

These actions also violate federal law set forth in the Supreme Court decision Tennessee v. Garner (1985), which states that deadly force can only be used when “the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”

As the video footage shows, Bijan did not threaten anybody.

Officers Amaya and Vinyard shot at Bijan a total of nine times — hitting him four times in the head, and once in the wrist as he was trying to shield himself. He died 10 days later.

U.S. Park Police have since refused to provide any information to the public, Bijan’s family, or Congress as to why Bijan was killed.

The actions of officers Amaya and Vinyard, the killing of Bijan Ghaisar, and the silence of the Park Police make a mockery of the agency’s stated principles of “integrity, honor, and service.” I am writing to demand that you fire officers Amaya and Vinyard from the force immediately.

Build Iranian-American Power With Us

From Sunday, March 24th through Tuesday, March 26th, the notoriously hawkish AIPAC will be hosting at their annual conference a cohort of officials, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who shamelessly promote the most destructive Iran policies seen to date.

At the conference, AIPAC is expected to announce the launch of a new PAC aimed at steering political donations toward candidates that will support AIPAC’s regressive priorities: escalating the demise of the Iran deal, upholding sanctions that suffocate the same Iranian civil society they claim to support, and driving the U.S. closer to war.

But we can combat them, with your help.

NIAC is aiming to raise $10,000 to establish a PAC that will support progressive candidates who will prioritize diplomacy, equitable immigration policies, and civil rights.

We’re excited to announce that one generous individual has offered to match dollar-for-dollar the amount raised, up to $10,000. But we need your help to reach our goal. Please consider making a donation, as this match ends tomorrow night.

 

Fight for Fair Immigration

 

Take Action to End the Muslim Ban

Tell your legislator to repeal the Muslim Ban!

 

Saving Zainab

Zainab Mughal, a 2-year-old girl in Florida who needs rare blood and bone marrow to survive her fight against cancer, needs our community’s help. 

We’re partnering with Vitalant and Project Marrow to find the rare blood that could save Zainab’s life. We’re looking for members of the Iranian-American community to donate blood. Vitalant will draw and test your blood. If you are a donor match, they will send your blood to help Zainab. Regardless of whether or not you are a match, your blood will help someone in need. 

Find a Blood Donation Center by Clicking Here!

 

Because Zainab is missing the “Indian B” antigen in her blood cells, so donor blood must also be missing this antigen for her body to not reject it. This is extremely rare and, according to OneBlood, is most likely found from people with Iranian, Pakistani, or Indian descent. The family needs to find more donors for little Zainab to survive.

Before donating, make sure to:
  • Bring your photo ID
  • Eat a healthy meal and hydrate
  • Tell the staff that you’re there for Zainab
    Note that the staff will ask you a few questions and give you a health screening before you donate.

The more people that go to give blood, the better chance we have at saving Zainab’s life

برای خواندن این متن به فارسی اینجا کلیک کنی

Tell Your Representative to Protect Iranian People from Sanctions!

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) is leading a sign-on letter pressing the administration to ensure that sanctions do not block humanitarian goods – including life-saving medicine – from the Iranian people. We need you to encourage your Representative to sign the Huffman letter.

Many in the Iranian-American community have heard from loved ones in Iran worried that sanctions are leading to shortages of life-saving medicine and skyrocketing costs of basic goods. Unsurprisingly, Trump officials have not taken these widespread concerns seriously.

That’s why Rep. Huffman is leading this important letter right now.

The letter will close this week, and we need as many Representatives to sign as possible. Can you take 3 minutes to call your Member of Congress TODAY and urge them to sign the Huffman letter?

>> Here’s how you do it

Step 1: Call 1-844-ACT-NIAC

Step 2: Ask to be connected to your Representative (Look up your Representative here)

Step 3: Urge your Representative to sign the Huffman letter

I am a constituent calling to encourage Rep. [NAME] to sign Jared Huffman’s letter pressing the administration to answer key questions on whether Iran sanctions are blocking humanitarian goods from reaching the Iranian people. This issue is personal for many Iranian Americans who have friends and family who have already been impacted by medical shortages caused by sanctions. Congress must ensure that its sanctions target the regime, not deprive the Iranian people of food and medicine. Has Rep. [NAME] signed the Huffman letter, which closes Thursday, December 20?

Step 4: Encourage your friends to do the same!

The Huffman letter is just one step toward ensuring that sanctions do not harm our friends and family in Iran. Please call your Representative today.

Udall’s Bill Can Stop War in Iran

War with Iran is back on the menu. In a few minutes, Donald Trump will stand before the United Nations and blame Iran for all that ails the Middle East. The following day, he will preside over a UN Security Council meeting aimed at strong-arming the world to impose crippling sanctions on Iran.

None of this will help Iranians secure their political rights or challenge the system, it will not help stabilize the region or end the wars in Syria and Yemen, and it will not address U.S. concerns with Iran’s foreign policy. It will make poor Iranians poorer, it will fan the flames of regional violence and terror, and it will empower the most hardline forces inside of Iran.

This is a campaign to make war inevitable. 

The President’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Israel, and the #1 Republican Megadonor Sheldon Adelson all have one wish: destroying Iran. And they are closer than ever to achieving it.

Congress must act now – before it is too late – to take away Trump’s legal authority to start a war with Iran. That’s why Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) is introducing legislation to block the U.S. from launching war or military strikes against Iran without Congressional approval. 

>> Urge your Senators to support the Udall bill to block Trump from starting war with Iran.

Regional tensions are at a fever pitch following this weekend’s terror attacks in Ahvaz, with some planting the seeds for a U.S.-Iran war. Donald Trump believes that he alone has the authority to start wars whenever and wherever he sees fit. By getting as many Senators as possible to sponsor this bill, we can send him a clear message: do not start a war with Iran. 

SCOTUS Just Approved Bigotry. Now What?

While we had hoped that justice and equality would triumph over hate and discrimination, we also suspected the Supreme Court, given its current makeup, would side with Trump. So we planned ahead. Our strategy is focused on terminating the ban through political organizing and legislative action.

Our Strategy Moving Forward

  1. Expose the lawmakers supporting Trump’s ban. The current Republican-led Congress has blocked a vote to repeal the Muslim Ban.
  2. Uncover the information that Trump is hiding. That is why we worked with Senator Chris Van Hollen to require Trump to turn over documents that will lay the groundwork for repeal. to lay the groundwork for a vote to repeal the ban.
  3. Organize to elect a new Congress this November that will vote to overturn the ban.
  4. Pass legislation to repeal the ban once and for all.

Have Questions on the Decision?

If you’re wondering what yesterday’s ruling means for you, we offer some answers in our FAQ. To see our legal analysis on the decision, look here.

Want to Get Involved?

We need your support. You can donate your time and you can donate your money. See where your representatives stand on the issue, and contact them. If you’ve been impacted by the ban, share your story with us.

Justice Kennedy’s retirement, announced today, raises the stakes even further for the upcoming elections. It’s crucial our community has a voice in November, so I hope you’ll be part of our efforts.

If our community is fully invested, we will overturn this ban. 

NIAC Action’s Voting Guide for the VA-10 Primary Elections

Washington, DC – One of the most hotly contested midterm elections in the country, the race for the Virginia 10 Congressional district, is considered a bellwether for Donald Trump’s chances of keeping his grip on Congress.

Comprised of Loudoun and Fairfax counties, VA-10 is home to one of the largest Iranian-American populations in the United States – with a community of over 6,000 Iranian Americans. Currently represented in Congress by Republican Barbara Comstock, the district has for years trended conservative. That changed in 2016 when VA-10 became one of 23 districts in the country where voters elected a Republican to Congress but favored Clinton over Trump for President – in this case by a whopping 10 point margin. This trend continued in the 2017 statewide elections in which voters overwhelmingly supported Democrats. Winning this seat is considered essential if Democrats are going to take the majority in the House.

On Tuesday, June 12, Virginia will hold its primaries and Democratic voters will decide who among a competitive field of hopeful challengers will go up against Rep. Comstock in the general election this fall. Earlier this year, NIAC Action questioned the leading candidates about their positions on issues important to our members. The candidates’ responses, and the incumbent’s positions on these issues, are summarized below.

Related: NIAC Action co-hosted a foreign policy candidate forum with leading Democratic candidates in VA-10.

The Candidates

Barbara Comstock (R): Barbara Comstock is the current Representative of Virginia’s 10th Congressional District. She previously served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2010 to 2015, the Bush Administration, and worked as legal counsel for House Republicans during the impeachment of Bill Clinton. https://comstock.house.gov/

Allison Friedman (D): Friedman previously served in the State Department under the Obama Administration, working on issues focused on human rights, transportation infrastructure, and airport security. Friedman is the co-founder of a non-profit organization that combats human trafficking. https://alisonforvirginia.com/

Dan Helmer (D): Helmer is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and South Korea along with numerous domestic postings. He is a Rhodes Scholar and works as a business strategist advising private sector companies as well as US government agencies. https://www.helmerforcongress.com/

Lindsey Davis Stover (D): Stover is a small business owner who served as Chief of Staff to a Democratic lawmaker in the U.S. House and as a Senior Advisor in the Obama administration at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. https://lindseyforcongress.com/

Jennifer Wexton (D): Jennifer Wexton has served as the Virginia State Senator representing district 33 since 2014. She previously was Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Loudoun County and has worked in private practice and as a Special Justice in mental health commitment hearings.  https://jenniferwexton.com/

On the Muslim Ban

Congresswoman Comstock was initially critical of how Donald Trump’s first Muslim Ban was implemented but has refused to take a position on subsequent iterations of Muslim Ban. Comstock has declined to add her name to any of the multiple pieces of legislation that would rescind the ban but which have been stalled due to lack of Republican support.

Friedman: “Trump’s Muslim ban is wholly inconsistent with our values of open doors and immigration that enhances and enriches our country. Diversity — faith-based or otherwise — expands our understanding of the world and improves our culture. Trump’s Muslim ban is a racist and bigoted rejection of our promise of the American Dream. Furthermore, the ban does not make our country any safer. Country of citizenship is not a reliable indicator of terrorist activity, and the countries on the ban list are not even in line with the terrorism argument. In fact, closing our doors to certain nations and dividing families serves to radicalize more people, makes our country less safe, and weakens our standing in the eyes of the world.”

“I have spent much of my career mobilizing communities around policy issues. At People For the American Way, I led an effort against an anti-Muslim city council resolution and built a powerful coalition that led to apologies and retraction.  I worked closely with the Senate to to reject extreme judicial appointments, and at the State Department and then in a public-private partnership afterward, I developed deep relationships on both sides of the aisle. I am unique in this primary field in my understanding of both the processes and the people needed to protect our fundamental principles, and I have proven my ability to change minds on Constitutional values at both a local and federal level. I hope to take that experience to Congress and be an outspoken advocate of issues that affect the Iranian-American community. I would use my voice and my role as a Congresswoman to support any legal action against the ban, and would reach out to diaspora organizations and participate in demonstrations opposing the ban.”

Helmer: “I strongly oppose the Muslim ban.  It is illegal and contradicts our American values. I do not believe that the President’s Article II powers include the capacity to make categorical ethnic, religious, or nationality-based determinations of US-entry eligibility.  I will therefore support all efforts to limit the President’s authority to act unilaterally in matters related to immigration but not representing a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States.”

Stover: “The Muslim ban is reprehensible, discriminatory, and un-American. Not only does it unjustly target and malign harm [sic] American Muslims, it also betrays the rich diversity that makes our country strong. As a member of Congress, I will support legislation to rescind and defund the current version of the ban, as well as any other versions put forth. I will also reject any legislation that discriminates based on national origin or religion, and I will work across the aisle to sponsor legislation that safeguards anti-discrimination policies. Finally, I will prioritize passing or maintaining a clean DREAM Act, making clear that this country holds opportunity for all.”

Wexton: “I believe Donald Trump’s Muslim ban is not only unconstitutional, but racist, ineffective, and a hazard for our national security. Immediately after President Trump announced the Muslim Ban, I went to Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia, along with many other elected officials and activists, to protest its implementation. As a lawyer, I believe the ban is fundamentally unconstitutional. From a national security perspective this ban gives our enemies around the world a powerful propaganda and recruiting tool to use against us. Finally the ban is racist and unamerican. We are a nation of immigrants founded on religious liberty. Immigrants make enormous economic, cultural, and social contributions to America. We should be looking at how to welcome and integrate immigrants not ban them. As a member of Congress I will vote against any form of the Muslim ban and any other similar discriminatory policies. Furthermore I will use my platform as a US Congresswoman to speak out against the Muslim Ban and other forms of discrimination just like I do as a State Senator.”

On the Iran Deal

An endorsee of John Bolton’s PAC and Super PAC, Congresswoman Comstock opposed negotiations with Iran, voted to kill the Iran deal, and supported Trump’s efforts to withdraw from the agreement. “I commend the President for his decision to withdraw from the misguided ‘Iran deal’,” she said. “The ‘deal’, which had strong bipartisan opposition in 2015 has emboldened Iran to continue instability and funding of terrorism around the world, and provided them with billions of dollars through lifted sanctions.”

Friedman: “I believe the JCPOA is a vitally critical deal between the US and Iran that prevents Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, allows for continued Iranian growth, and prevents a costly and deadly war that the US cannot afford at this time or any other. I would vote against any efforts to remove the JCPOA, and would speak out firmly against any insincere voices that try to discredit its merits and importance to peace in the world.”

Helmer: “I am deeply committed to protecting our relationships within the Middle East.  I understand the JCPOA is critical for President Rouhani to produce peaceful change over time inside Iran and is essential for us preventing Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon. I will oppose any efforts by this or future administrations to undermine the nuclear accord. Furthermore, I will work proactively with my Congressional colleagues to broaden the scope of US-Iranian relations.  Only when the economic, educational, cultural, and political institutions of our two countries begin to make progress toward building a functional relationship will the JCPOA be truly secure. The long-term success of the agreement requires not only the signatures of the two governments but the intertwining and good will of the two nations those governments represent. I will also support a new AUMF that explicitly prohibits military action targeting Iran without explicit Congressional authorization.”

Stover: “As an Obama Alum, I am proud of the Administration’s work on JCPOA. The agreement significantly limits the ability of Iran to enrich uranium and plutonium to weapons-grade quality, and establishes an unprecedented system of independent verification. It also benefits from the support of five major nations, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China, Russia — support that Iranian moderates need. The alternatives advanced by the agreement’s critics, including total denuclearization, stand at odds with post-revolutionary identity of Iran’s government. Given the agreement’s unequivocal support among US partners, these alternatives are only possible through the use of unilateral military force. Peaceful and stable relations between any two nations depends on mutual trust and respect.  While the fraught history between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran complicates the present debate, the JCPOA lays the foundation for progress”

“I will do my part to build public trust in the institutions that certify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA from attack. As a condition of the agreement, the IAEA has unprecedented authority to inspect Iran’s nuclear facilities, and the organization has significantly expanded its staff, surveillance capacity, and its operating budget to meet the requirements of the JCPOA. I will also push the President to judge Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA using evidence collected by the IAEA and the US intelligence community, not speculation.”

Wexton: “I strongly support the JCPOA. This treaty has been successful at blocking Tehran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon and is a triumph for peaceful diplomacy as a means to settle international conflict and avoid war. The JCPOA is important first and foremost because it prevents war. The United States and our allies could not accept a nuclear armed Iran. This deal prevents that while also preventing what would be a costly, terrible, and devastating war. Furthermore the deal lifts economic sanctions for the good of the Iranian people and the the good of American influence. By lifting a total trade embargo the United States is able to better influence the people of Iran through trade and culture and serve as a moderating force. Finally, the deal is a victory for the moderate political forces within Iran and further empowers them. I strongly support the JCPOA and will protect it in Congress. As a Member of Congress I will support legislation that protects the JCPOA and oppose legislation that seeks to undermine it. Furthermore I will use my platform as a Congresswoman to advocate in favor of the JCPOA.”

Sanctions and Diplomacy

Comstock has supported broad sanctions against Iran and advocates for increasing broad sanctions against Iranians. “I will continue to support sanctions against Iran until the country takes real steps to implement change, and I trust we will work with our allies to stop the existential threat of an Iran with nuclear weapons.”

Friedman: “The Obama administration had demonstrated that even in the face of a regime that undermines US values and policy around the world, there is real value in diplomatic engagement on mutual interest such as the Iran deal. We should not be calling for additional sanctions on Iran when they are fulfilling their end of the JCPOA, and we should not be beating the drums of war as if they possess nuclear weapons. Further it is through diplomacy — not threats of the possibility of war — that we can we make meaningful progress on issues related to human rights. Sanctions should be used to pressure the Iranian government to stop any potential nuclear weapons program they might develop, but they should not be used to isolate Iran or prevent access to food or medicine for the Iranian people.”

Helmer: “Diplomacy must be our first approach to addressing tensions and conflicts. I am a supporter of the JCPOA and therefore believe that if Iran is party to a material breach of the terms of the agreement, economic sanctions should be re-imposed according to the terms of the deal. At the same time, I strongly oppose the imposition of new sanctions outside the confines of the JPCOA.  Such sanctions would undermine the Iranian public’s support the JCPOA and set back the progress made in recent years in US-Iranian relations.”

Stover: “We should be a leader in supporting peace and resolving tensions between the US and Iran.  I believe promoting a peaceful and stable Middle East depends, in part, on strengthening the position of Iranian moderates relative to their hardliner counterparts. Sanctions must play a role in US policy towards Iran, but only as one part of a wholistic  diplomatic strategy that promotes a peaceful, stable Middle East and protects US citizens and US allies at home and abroad.”

Wexton: “The JCPOA was an excellent example of what can be diplomatically achieved between the United States and Iran. I believe the United States should continue to be a leader in the world, and will support further diplomatic efforts like this in order to continue to improve the relationship between our two countries. I believe that sanctions against Iran should be considered with a very high level of scrutiny. Unfortunately, sanctions tend to harm civil society and common people as much if not more than they influence the regime to change its policies. Furthermore, by refusing to trade with Iran the United States is forfeiting in large part its ability to influence Iran through commerce and culture and pushing the country into the arms of more unfriendly actors like China and Russia. For these reasons I think the negative effects of sanctions must be weighed very heavily and considered very closely.”

Learn more about where to find your polling station, how to vote early, and other information you need to make sure you vote in the Virginia primaries here.

Paid for by NIAC Action, not authorized by any candidate or committee.

Attention: California Voters

The California Statewide Primaries are coming on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. With so many issues facing our community at stake, it’s important now more than ever that we turn out and VOTE! The Iranian-American community is grossly underrepresented in politics. If we want elected officials that represent the interests of our community, we need to get our voices heard at the polls. Ultimately, every vote cast can help deliver our message to Congress.

To have your voice heard in the primaries on Tuesday, June 5th, here is what you need to know to vote:

  • Make certain you are registered to vote. You can check your voter registration status and find your polling location at https://www.niacaction.org/beshkan/
    • In addition, same day voter registration, which was recently legalized in the State of California, allows any qualified resident of the state to go to register to vote and cast a ballot all in that day; all that is required is proof of residency and valid government ID
  • The address of your polling place is on the back page of the sample ballot booklet that your county elections official mailed to you. If you do not have the booklet, contact your county elections office. You can also check your polling location at https://www.niacaction.org/beshkan/
    • If you live in the Counties of Sacramento, San Mateo, Napa, Nevada, or Madera, scroll to the end of this page to see how the Voter’s Choice Act has changed how you can vote this year.  
  • In most cases, California voters are not required to show identification at their polling place. However, it is a good idea to bring identification with you when you vote for the first time.
  • Even if your name is not on the voter list at the polling place, you have the right to vote with a provisional ballot.
  • Voting is open from 7 AM – 8 PM on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 across the State of California.

If you live in the Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento, or San Mateo counties, big changes are coming to your electoral districts:

  • You have three ways to cast your ballot: vote by mail, ballot drop box, and vote centers.
  • You can vote in person by visiting any vote center in your county.
  • All centers will be open at least four days before the election, and some vote centers will be open 11 days prior to the election.

Madero (PDF)

Napa (PDF)

Nevada (PDF)

Sacramento (PDF)

San Mateo (PDF)

More information can be found at https://voterschoice.org/