Maryam Rajavi: The path to a peaceful and democratic Middle East, where women and youth could play their rightful role, inevitably passes through regime change in Iran

Speech in the international conference – Paris

Distinguished guests,

It is a pleasure to meet each and every one of you. This conference is being held at an extraordinary moment in the history of the Middle East and North Africa. From Tunisia, Cairo and Ben-Ghazi to Tehran, people have risen. Tripoli is advancing towards liberation through the sacrifice of hundreds of youths.

In Baghdad, people are enraged over the rubble of war, treachery and appeasement.

And in Tehran, the audacity of Iran’s young generation has checkmated the ogre of repression.

I salute all those who have arisen for democracy and freedom.

Why not, all of us rise to pay homage to all of them, especially those heroes who lost their lives during the Feb. 14 and Feb. 20 uprisings in Iran, Saneh Jaleh, Mohammad Mokhtari and Hamed Nour-Mohammadi, and applaud them for one minute.

Dear friends,

The tide of freedom has engulfed the entire region.

No country will be spared from this tide.

We must now ask ourselves why these uprisings have become so explosive.

What factors had until now retarded their eruption?

What course has Western policy towards this country taken?

And what are the prospects and what are our responsibilities?

The reality is that:

– Peoples of these countries have always suffered under dictatorship, poverty and corruption;

– Their fundamental rights, legitimate demands and democratic ideals have been trampled upon in the worst possible manner;

– For decades, dictators, mostly posturing as Presidents of the Republic – and of course lacking the popular vote – have ruled with an iron fist;

– They have pillaged or destroyed the wealth and resources of these countries.

To offer a precise assessment of what has happened in the region, allow me to back track a bit.

In 1979, the Iranian revolution came about with profoundly democratic ideals.

Why did this revolution, instead of serving as an inspiration for democracy in the region, became the epicenter of exporting terrorism and fundamentalism?

Because Khomeini stole its leadership.

Because by killing the genuine pro-democracy forces of the revolution, he established a religious dictatorship and in this way took the democratic trends in the region hostage.

By setting the stage and insisting on the perpetuation of the eight-year war with Iraq and by exporting terrorism, the regime in Tehran became the principal threat to the region.

How did this threat affect the region?

In all these years, the clerical regime has been waiting in the wings to exploit the tension and the vacuum caused by the transition from dictatorship to democracy to install its client governments in these countries.

Amid all this, the United States and Europe chose appeasement as their policy toward the Iranian regime and fundamentalism. Why?

One reason was a misunderstanding of the nature of fundamentalism.

Another was economic and tactical interests and considerations.

In any case, western countries have in practice provided the greatest help to the regime in expanding its sphere of influence in the region.

And at the same time supported dictators in the region because, they claimed, sought to stop the expansion of fundamentalism.

This situation gave dictatorships an aura of legitimacy in the region.

Because it was thought that the overthrow of these dictatorships, or even serious reforms in their regimes, would have led to fundamentalism and more dangerous dictatorships.

In short, two factors prolonged the reign of dictatorships in the region.

First, the Iranian regime as the Godfather of fundamentalism and second, the gravely mistaken policy of the United States and Europe.

Without these two factors, dictatorships in the region should have been overthrown many years ago and democratic trends should have taken their natural course.

Precisely for this reason, their overthrow has taken on explosive characteristics.

At the same time, with the spread of the tide of freedom in the whole of the region, the clerical regime is again waiting in the wings.

The regime’s Supreme Leader for life is trying to realize his evil designs under the banner of “Islamic awakening.”

In this case, are we facing a vicious circle? Not at all.

There is possible and necessary way out: the overthrow of the mullahs’ anti-human regime and the establishment of democracy in Iran.

Indeed, the era of fundamentalism and darkness have come to an end. Now, it is the era of democracy and freedom.

Dear Friends,

We know that the West, instead of being decisive against the mullahs’ regime, the epicenter of fundamentalism, kneeled before it.

At the same, it turned the most important values and achievements of humankind, namely human rights, democracy, resistance, justice and law on its head or sacrificed them at the altar of appeasement.

Human rights were overshadowed by something called realism and sacrificed at the feet of trade and diplomacy.

It was said that democracy ran counter to culture and religion of the people of the Middle East as if the nations of this region are condemned be under dictatorship from time immemorial to eternity.

Resistance for freedom was denigrated followed by including the largest anti-fundamentalist and anti-terrorist movement, the People’s Mojahedin, on the terrorist lists.

Justice and rule of law even within western countries were trampled upon because giving concessions to the mullahs was deemed more important.

The mullahs’ terrorism and mass murder, from Beirut to Khobar to Baghdad was ignored, lest it would cast a negative shadow over the sacred ritual of engagement.

Moderation became so distorted that a faction of Iran’s ruling religious fascism was praised though it was wearing only a moderate façade.

This was how Western policy blocked the path to change in Iran. Instead, it opened the path for the regime to make inroads in the region.

Look at Lebanon, Palestine and before all to Iraq. Appeasement enabled the mullahs to bring government of their liking to power in that country, a government that was rattled by people’s rage just yesterday.

This policy, the greatest policy blunder by the West since the Second World War, is no longer tenable.

Because, the Iranian regime, the benefactor of appeasement, is on the brink.

Here too, the West was mistaken in propagating that the Iranian situation will revert to the pre-2009 uprising.

We see that quite the opposite has happened as uprisings in Iran have spread and are moving forward.

On February 14 and 20, protesters courageously took to the streets and their bravery impressed the world. Everyone saw that their demands are not a change in the regime’s policies. They sought only one thing: Change in the totality of the clerical regime.

Indeed, the survival of a regime made possible through suppressing freedom is no longer possible.

As the Iranian Resistance Leader Massoud Rajavi said recently, “The velayat-e faqih regime has tried very hard in the past 32 years to fill the huge and historical gap between the twentieth and twenty-first century and its medieval regime with the glows, firing squads, war as well as crisis and terrorism export. Nonetheless, this regime cannot achieve stability.”

Indeed, the mullahs’ era has come pass. And now is era for Iranian people and freedom.

Dear Friends,

As it relates to Western policies, nothing is more obvious than placing the People’s Mojahedin on the terrorist list.

It is through this label that the people of Iran and the Middle East grasp the real policy of the United States and Europe.

They recognize where the West is standing: with the clerical regime or the Iranian people?

After a relentless campaign by the Resistance, Europe was compelled to remove the PMOI from the list. And now it is America’s turn.

By taking advantage of this label, the mullahs have tightened the three-year siege on Ashraf.

Fearing the role of Ashraf in inspiring Iran’s women and youth in recent months, they repeatedly attacked Ashraf. Since a year ago, the clerical regime has installed loudspeakers around Ashraf as part of a dirty psychological warfare campaign against its residents.

Absent an effective worldwide reaction the number of loudspeakers has risen to 210 now.

The mullahs are even preventing the entry of many medicines to Ashraf.

Their policy now is to kill Ashraf patients by tormenting them.

In recent days, they have tried to increase the number of repressive forces inside Ashraf.

The European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe, as well as the parliaments and senates of 30 countries, including the US House of Representatives, have issued declarations and statements in which they have emphasized the status of the residents of Ashraf as protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention and urged the resumption of their protection by the United States and the stationing of a permanent UNAMI team at Ashraf.

As such, Ashraf is a test for the United States and the United Nations. I call on them to uphold their commitments.

Indeed, the time for silence and appeasement has to come to an end.

Now is the time for democracy and freedom to march forward.

Dear friends,

This year, we are approaching International Women’s Day at a time when women in the Middle East have sacrificed a great deal in their struggle against dictatorship, taking the campaign to attain freedom and equality to its zenith.

The blossoming of these movements revives the most vital, yet forgotten, desire of our societies: Women’s equality, human rights, freedom and democracy.

The experience of Iran under the fundamentalists’ rule has shown that women are the main victims of suppression.

Thus, women have developed an enormous energy to struggle, making them the force for change.

Accordingly, we are saying that among the many factors which have made the dawn of freedom in Iran inevitable, the determinant factor is women’s penetrating capacity for change.

Recognition of this fact is possible by a simple glance at the history of the struggle of Iranian women against two dictatorships.

In the past three decades, Iranian society has relied on women’s unremitting struggle to persevere against religious fascism.

Tens of thousands of courageous women were either tortured or killed in the struggle against the ruling regime.

Homeira Eshraq, and many like her, was killed under torture. Tahereh Tolou’s heart was pierced with a dagger and the Revolutionary Guards hanged her head first from a cliff.

Shirin Alamhoui and Zahra Bahrami were hanged in Tehran recently.

And Neda, the symbol of protests last year, who died in Tehran’s streets with her eyes open.

At the same time, thousands of brave women have been leading the affairs in Camp Ashraf, the focal point of hope for an enchained nation, amid the most tortuous of circumstances.

Based on the invaluable experiences of the Iranian Resistance, the active participation of women in leadership is indispensible to an all-out struggle against religious fundamentalism and dictatorship.
The definitive defeat of fundamentalism is possible, but by these very women. It is they who will change the face of the world.
And I call on all my sisters across the globe to rise up in defense of the flames of resistance that are burning in Ashraf and in the four corners of Iran.

Dear Friends,

Allow me to summarize:
1. The path to a peaceful and democratic Middle East, where women and youth could play their rightful role, inevitably passes through regime change in Iran.

Without this change, democracy and stability would be impossible in this region. In the current circumstance, regime change in Iran is a hundred times more necessary. Otherwise, developments in the region will be diverted.

2. The solution for the Iranian crisis is neither appeasement nor war. Our option is one which would benefit the entire region: democratic change by the Iranian people and Resistance.
3. Our message to our sisters and brothers in Tunis, Egypt, Libya, and to our brother nations of Afghanistan and Iraq is “Beware of the fundamentalist mullahs, the murderers of Iran’s women and youth.”

Your struggle will come to fruition in virtue of your sacrifice and blood on the condition that you safeguard your struggle from this sinister threat.

4. If Western countries are interested in playing a positive role in the new history of the Middle East, as the first and an inevitable step, they must change their policy; change from reaching out to religious fascism to reaching out the Iranian people.

5. The most important step for the West to abandon a policy that has been to detriment of the Iranian people and the whole of the region is to recognize the Iranian people’s resistance movement.

6. International sanctions against the regime, while a positive step, are in no way sufficient. We offer several necessary measures: a ban on the sale of oil from the regime in Iran; referral of the mullahs’ human rights dossier to the UN Security Council; a halt on the interaction between western intelligence services and the mullahs’ Ministry of Intelligence; shutting down the IRGC’s front companies in Europe, Canada and the US.

7. Recognizing the alternative which the Iranian Resistance represents. This alternative has challenged the mullahs by presenting a democratic platform:

A republic based on the separation of church and state, a pluralist democracy, a society based on gender equality and respect for human rights, where death penalty and the mullahs’ Shaira laws will be abolished, a blossoming economy based on equal opportunity to all and a non-nuclear Iran that is at peace with all its neighbors.

Indeed, the era of defeated revolutions has come to an end.

Now is the era for democracy and freedom for the people of Iran and the region.

Thank you all very much.

26 Feb, 2011

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