Addressing a conference in Paris on February 26, Howard Dean, Former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Governor of Vermont, denounced the clerical dictatorship in Tehran that has nothing to do with Islam and expressed support for the third option proposed by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi and her ten-point plan for future Iran.
The conference was attended by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, and dozens of distinguished international personalities.
Excerpts from transcribed text of his speech follow:
I come to Europe and am asked to give speeches, and Europeans are always very famous, because they always accuse the Americans properly of acting without thinking.
The problem is, in Europe, they always think without acting, and we are going to change that today. The Persian nation is an extraordinary nation with a 2500 year history of extraordinary achievement. The Ayatollahs and the mullahs and President Ahmadinejad are not Persians, they are interlocutors holding our great nation hostage. The winds have changed or blowing through the Middle East. Young people are creating this revolution. It is a secular revolution. There will be religious people, there will be non religious people. This is a revolution for all young people. People always say to me, how can we help this happen, how can this happen in the United States?
We should make a rule that no one over 50 may serve as a United States senator, or in the French parliament, or in Britain, or in Egypt or anywhere else. The future belongs to those people who are under 35 years old, who are making change by electing the first Afro American president in the United States of America by overthrowing an autocratic regime in Tunisia and in Egypt and will soon overthrow an autocratic regime in Iran. And the regime in Iran has nothing to do with Islam. I studied the Koran when I was in college. Nowhere could I recognize Islam in what is going on in Iran today.
Like so many people before them, both Christians, Jews, Hindus, these rulers are using religions as an excuse for their abominable behavior, they are not religious people, they only claim a mandate from God. God will decide who has that mandate, not the Ayatollahs.
America is a great nation because in our founding documents, we have laid out a vision for humanity which contradicts the cynicism so often found in ancient civilizations. It is not an accident that we are a nation of immigrants, that people from all over the people well represented also among Iranian people, have come to the United States for freedom and democracy and opportunity.
But America makes mistakes too. We have to live up to the high moral ground which is in the constitution of the United States and in the declaration of independence, and that means standing up for freedom and democracy, even when it may not be in our geopolitical interest. And that is why we must change our position on the MEK and stop calling them a terrorist organization. They are not a terrorist organization, they have their own bill of rights, which is an extraordinary thing under the leadership of Madame Rajavi, and we appreciate what she has done greatly.
Let me quote from Madam’s plan, 10 point plan for the future of Iran. From our point of view, the ballot box is the only criterion for legitimacy. We want a plural system, freedom for parties and assembly, we will commit and support the abolition of the death penalty. We will establish the separation of church and state. This does not sound like a terrorist organization to me. MEK is not a terrorist organization. And we have stood up time and again sometimes in error. Sometimes we have failed, but we try to stand up for those who support human rights and human dignity.
There are 3,400 brave Iranian men and women in Camp Ashraf. Now, as you know, I oppose President Bush when he decided to attack Iraq. One of the reasons I opposed him is because I believed that would create a larger influence for the government of Iran and the religion, and that is exactly what happened. So like Governor Ridge, I take the position that Al-Maliki would not be prime minister of Iraq today and he ought to take some direction from the United States of America. We do have an opportunity to influence him. Do not commit the same human rights violations that Saddam Hussein was committing the Shite majority in Iraq. Do not do that. The United States must be clear. If you do that, we will withdraw our support because you are not a democracy if you can’t stand up for the human rights of other human beings.
The truth is that Prime Minister Maliki still depends on American troops even though we stopped combat operations. I wish the best for the people of Iraq. I did not support the invasion, but since we have done it I hope it turns out as well as it can, but it will not turn out well for the Iraqi people if it doesn’t turn out well for the Iranian people who live in Iraq.
For many years it has been an illusion that there are moderates in the Iranian regime. I, like Ambassador Richardson, support President Obama’s view that we should try to talk to our enemies, but like Governor Richardson, like Governor Ridge, like General Jones, when the hand of friendship meets a closed fist, it’s time to stop talking and start doing and the thing we could do is protect the human rights of the people in Ashraf and to delist the MEK.
And we must go further than that. The fact is that there are terrorists in Iran. The government of Iran is a terrorist organization, and we should treat it accordingly with the appropriate sanctions. I agree that the proper alternative is a third way. An American invasion or American troops in the region would be foolish. We have already found out how bitterly that is resisted by people in the region. But we cannot turn our eyes blindly to human rights violations of a government, because the people who are in the most danger of that are the people in the United States of America.
When you turn a blind eye to human rights anywhere else in the globe, you have turned a blind eye to rights in your own country as well. We have never done that as well. Tom spoke eloquently about the sacrifices that we made on the shores of Normandy so many years ago. Those sacrifices will continue, because Americans are not the only ones who made sacrifices. What about the brave Iranians that went into the streets in Tehran not so long ago, they went into the streets in Tehran in 2009. We are all in this together. What keeps us together, especially in this young generation, is a solidarity, whether it’s in China, whether it’s in Iran, whether it’s in South America, whether it’s in United States, that this young generation believes that human rights are universal, they are the first generation to act on that.
There is the extraordinary power of Twitter, of the Internet, of the ability to bypass political propaganda.
This young generation is a generation of a world, they know no national boundaries, and the respect for human rights is the same whether they are Arab, African, Persian, Chinese or American. That is the world that we are living. Many years ago, on this continent, there was a movement not so different that Ahmadinejad and khamenei are perpetrating. They had their revolutionary guards, they were called the Brown Shirts, and there was a big conference in the late 1930s, after Czechoslovakia had been overrun and the prime minister of Britain came back and said, peace is at hand. The definition of insanity is repeating the same course and expecting a different result. It is no longer time for appeasement, it is time for us to stand with the brave people of Egypt, of La Tunisia, of Iran. All over the world people are standing for their own rights. The least we can do is stand with them.
Thank you so much.