A European-American Conference was convened on invitation of the Friends of Free Iran intergroup in the European Parliament on February 7, in relation to the current political situation in Iran and the region, and the necessity of protecting Ashraf residents, members of the Iranian opposition.
KENNEDY, former US Congressman: Thank you, thank you very much. And to Madame Rajavi it’s an honor once again to join you. You’re the one woman on the stage of all of us men. How symbolic your leadership in a world that wants to move forward. My colleague, Senator Torricelli, talked about how our ancestors came from Italy, in his case, to the United States, and from Ireland in my family’s case to the United States.
And it’s hard for us to understand today that when they came to the United States Italian Americans and Irish Americans were treated as second class citizens. How far we’ve come but how much further we still have to go. As a great American Martin Luther King said, “A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. It has been mentioned this afternoon about how history repeats itself when those fail to learn from history. My uncle Joseph Kennedy is not someone that most people know in my family, but that is perhaps because he never was able to live a full life and to run for public office to achieve great things because perhaps he achieved something as great as any of us can ever hope to attain. And that is he laid his life down for the cause of freedom not in America but freedom here in Europe, for it was my uncle Joseph Kennedy who died over the skies of Europe not far from where we are today because he answered the call to take on evil wherever it was and 60 years ago that evil resided in Hitler, in Nazi Germany. He was from Massachusetts and he died in Europe fighting for freedom not only in Europe, because he knew as America knew that the fight for freedom in Europe was a fight for freedom for all people no matter what side of the ocean they lived on.
Today we are faced with a similar test and for many of us we don’t put our lives on the line. But for Madame Rajavi’s family, for the family of the people of Camp Ashraf, for the people of Camp Ashraf, they’re putting their lives on the line for freedom. And their fight for freedom is all of our fight because if the mullahs can influence Nuri al-Maliki to massacre innocent people in Camp Ashraf, then the mullahs with a nuclear bomb can massacre all of your children and all of your family members. If they are willing in this day and age to massacre people in the light of day in July 2009 and in April of 2011 while all the world is watching then what makes you think that they will stop there? If they can massacre hundreds of thousands of their own people in Iran where the mullahs in Tehran have declared war on their own people just as we are seeing today with Assad trying to hold on to power when his people say they no longer want him, and the world community watches in horror as Assad uses the military against his own people, that is no different than what is going on by Khomeini and Ahmadeinejad in Tehran. The difference today is the nuclear program in Syria is no longer what the nuclear program in Iran continues. Why should the rest of the world care about these people in Camp Ashraf? Because these people in Camp Ashraf are fighting not just a fight for their own lives and dignity but they are fighting on behalf of all of us who want to live in a free world. That is the test of our time. And a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. That is why it takes all of us to be part of the solution as opposed to a part of the problem.
Now I can say in my own country we haven’t gotten it right. Our policy is still confused but I am hoping that our policy changes and changes soon. For if our policy today is to act with appeasement to the very people who are threatening this world, the mullahs in Tehran, by saying that we won’t de-list your main opposition group, the PMOI, because we know that’s a bargaining position for us to curry favor to hopefully get you to change your ways. And yet we have that same mullahs in Iran threaten to wipe off the face of the earth one of our allies and a freedom-loving people in Israel. And yet we still negotiate with the Iranian regime as if they are rational. I just hope that as people are considering military options to stop the Mullahs in Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon that has been said already, we would consider as the president said just this week, exhausting all diplomatic options. And has just been said one of those options that we can exhaust diplomatically before we resort to the military solution is to de-list the primary democratic opposition group to the mullahs in Tehran, and instead of using a military option to take the mullahs out we can create a democratic option to empower the people of Iran to do for themselves and for all of us what no military strike will ever successfully achieve and that’s to replace the leadership in Iran democratically. I thought that’s why we’re all here is that we believe in the process called the democratic process. It isn’t a perfect solution but as Winston Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.” And for anybody who’s tuned to the TV today in Syria, who watched what happened in Libya, who sees what happens around the world, they can take stock in the faith in democracy. It may not be perfect but it’s the best system that’s been devised so far. And what does that democracy demand? It demands our participation as good people trying to make good policy.
So what is it that we are facing today? We’re facing a situation where people are calling Camp Liberty a solution to the challenge of the people in Camp Ashraf. Does this look like liberty? Where people are going to be housed like prisoners? What a contradiction in terms that we call this Camp Liberty when in fact what we are party to is the imprisonment of freedom-loving people. This to me looks like a concentration camp. When are we going to learn from history? And people say, “Look at history. Look at President Kennedy and what he said in Berlin, that we’re all Berliners during that crisis.” Today we’re all Ashrafis because their fight is our fight and if we allow them to be murdered then we have looked the other way while our brothers and sisters are murdered. And just like my uncle died over Europe because he understood that the cause of freedom was one that was universal; it was for people of all places of the world such that a guy with an Italian last name named Torricelli and a guy with an Irish last name named Kennedy were fighting side by side in World War II representing a principle, a principle called freedom and human rights for all because that’s what unites us. And hopefully our country can continue to move forward and ultimately live up to that principle that it was founded upon that all people are created equal. And if we do that and we believe that then we will not be able to allow this situation to continue.
And so to Madame Rajavi we need to work even harder to do what we can to support you because we’re doing the easy part; you’re doing the hard part. Your families’ lives are on the line. All that we have to do is cast a vote to welcome some refugees, to take a stand, none of which involves the sacrifice of our own lives. But in Madame Rajavi’s case it involves the sacrifice of her very family’s life. Let us be humbled by people who are willing to not only stand up for what they believe by what they say, but by what they do. And let’s learn from the Iranian dictators to not believe what they say but to believe what they do. And after July 9, 2009 and April 8 of 2011, we should know what the Iranian mullahs and their puppets in Iraq stand for because they told us to it not by words but in deeds. And those deeds tell more of the truth than every word that can be uttered by their propaganda machine in Tehran. So this is a question of life and death and that is why we’re here today and that is why we commit ourselves once again Madame Rajavi to your cause because your cause is our cause.