In a conference in Paris on December 22 entitled “Camp Ashraf and Policy on Iran”, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, emphasized that “the US must resume the protection of Ashraf residents and the UN must station its permanent monitoring there.” The conference was addressed by distinguished figures including former New York Mayor Giuliani, former U.S. Attorney General Mukasey, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, and anti-terrorism advisor to President George Bush Francis Townsend.
Mrs. Rajavi’s speech follows:
I am very pleased to be among you here today.
First of all, allow me to welcome our distinguished guests from the United States. I also wish to applaud your courageous position in demanding the adoption of a decisive policy against the religious dictatorship ruling Iran and calling for the removal of Iran’s democratic opposition from the list of foreign terrorist organizations in the United States.
When in his speech in New York, Mayor Giuliani speaks about his experience in fighting terrorism and calls for the removal of the terror tag from the PMOI, he is sending a message to the people of Iran and Ashraf residents that they are not alone in their struggle for democracy.
Remarks by Attorney General Mukasey about the unrivaled role of the Iranian Resistance, the emphasis by Secretary Ridge that removing the terrorist designation of the opposition is probably the last and best hope, the moving message by Ms. Townsend to the women in Ashraf, and the extraordinary observation that political goals must be consistent with our values all reflect the formation of consensus on a new policy vis-à-vis Iran.
These eloquent remarks and the recognition of the need for democratic change in Iran before all else carries a message to the Iranian people that the era of ignoring their pain and suffering has come to pass.
Today, I would like to talk briefly about my enchained homeland and the options before us.
We your permission, I will continue in Farsi.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This session provides a momentous opportunity to discuss the correct policy vis-à-vis the most important political crisis the world faces today.
The search for a proper policy towards the Iranian problem has been a source of intellectual and political dispute. For long, proponents of appeasement advocated a view that insisted on the regime’s stability and prowess and ignored the Iranian people’s Resistance.
The uprisings in 2009, however, completely changed the nature of the debate as it confirmed that the ruling regime in Iran has entered its final phase.
The uprisings showed the real coordinates of Iranian society today. They are:
1. The fundamental weakness of the ruling regime, which has fragmented;
2. A lack of social base for the mullahs;
3. The emergence of a generation of young men and women who will stop at nothing short of achieving freedom and democracy;
4. The Iranian society’s overwhelming support for the primary slogan and demand of the organized resistance: change in the entire regime.
In recent months, despite a ruthless suppression, the mullahs have failed to extinguish the uprisings and contained their internal schisms. The nationwide protests by students on December 7 and the sudden dismissal of the Foreign Minister and the President’s first deputy in recent days again demonstrated this fact reality.
Now, what should one do with a regime which has entered its final phase?
– The first option is engagement and more concessions in the hopes that it would abandon building nuclear weapons;
– The second option is firmness and standing with the Iranian people’s resistance which seeks regime change.
The US policy of engagement in the past two years has unfortunately followed the first option. It has done serious harm to the Iranian people’s movement and helped keeping the regime on its feet.
As the Resistance leader Massoud Rajavi has said repeatedly “We only wish that negotiation and engagement with the regime would bear fruit. But abandoning the export of terrorism and nuclear weapons would inevitably result in an easing of crackdown inside the country, break the grip of repression and prompt the public to come out onto the streets. These developments would lead to the regime’s implosion. But the religious dictatorship does not want to retreat and in its own words commit suicide in fear of death.”
It would prove helpful to review some of the harmful consequences of the policy of engagement in several respects:
First, the uprisings:
You may have heard that during the uprisings in the streets of Tehran, the people were chanting, Obama, are you with us or mullahs? The uprising was a great opportunity, which the US wasted. Instead of standing with the Iranian people, President Obama extended a hand to the leaders of the Iranian regime such that at the height of the uprising in October 2009, it directly negotiated with Ahmadinejad’s envoys.
Second, the nuclear program:
While pursuing engagement President Obama has stated publicly that he is opposed to nuclear weapons in the hands of the ruling mullahs. But in practice, his policy provides the opportunity to the mullahs through fruitless negotiations. Feeling secure, the mullahs have produced not only 3,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium; they have begun enriching 20 percent enriched uranium as well.
Today, many acknowledge that last year’s talks were a step backwards and this year’s talks were two steps backwards. So one has to repeat Sir Winston Churchill’s apt remarks to Neville Chamberlain, where he said, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”
Third, the situation in Iraq:
Following the Iraq war, the United States brought in Iranian regime-backed parties into the Iraqi government.
In those years, the Resistance movement revealed more than 4,000 pieces of sensitive intelligence about the mullahs’ activities in Iraq. On example were the names of 32,000 Iraqi agents on the regime’s payroll. Tehran gradually brought Iraq under their hidden domination.
Regrettably, in those years, the eyes and ears were closed to our warnings.
Whereas it was obvious even then that the mullahs’ bombs are causing the most carnage in Iraq.
The new administration has worked to withdraw US soldiers from Iraq. But, that should not allow the mullahs to dominate Iraq.
If this policy does not fundamentally change, Iraq will be handed over to the mullahs in a silver platter.
And this is a major test for the United States.
Fourth, Iranian people’s organized resistance:
In order to mollify the mullahs, the United States has blocked the Iranian Resistance and consequently the path to change.
The correct solution to the Iranian problem is regime change, a democratic change by the Iranian people and Resistance. This is the defining factor in the Iranian equation. Thus, any policy that blocks the Resistance’s ignores the most important actor for change in Iran and the regime’s soft spot. This deficiency is at the heart of a mistaken policy of engagement.
Nowhere is this mistake more apparent than in the situation of Ashraf.
The US was aware that the Maliki government was doing the bidding of the mullahs and enforcing its policies by committing atrocities and terrorizing the Iraqi public. It, nevertheless, handed over the protection of Ashraf to Iraq.
As legal experts have demonstrated, this transfer violated four principle of international law: The Fourth Geneva Convention, the Convention against Torture, the nonrefoulement principle and the principle of right to protection.
I do not intend to discuss the legal aspects of the Ashraf situation.
I want to talk about the damage done by the policy of engagement to the focal point of hope for the Iranian people. When the mullahs wanted to contain the uprisings, they attacked Ashraf first. They have fully recognized the relations between a resistance movement and the percolating protests. And no one more than the Americans has seen the pressures by the Iranian regime to close down Ashraf. Tehran raised the issue during three rounds of official negotiations between the State Department and the regime’s envoys in Baghdad.
Now, they have resorted to a shameful psychological warfare against the residents by installing 140 loudspeakers around Ashraf or denying medical treatment or medicine to patients.
Truly, why are the mullahs so afraid of an encircled and unarmed group 70 kilometers from the Iranian border? Because they know that Ashraf holds the key to change. They know that with 1,000 pioneering women, Ashraf inspires equality and emancipation for women.
Now, we come to the biggest error in the policy of engagement, reflected specifically in the inclusion of the People’s Mojahedin in the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization list.
Today, we need not discuss the substance of this label.
The focus of our discussion is the critical impact of this listing, which has resulted in shutting down the engine for change in Iran. When you block the engine for change in Iran, how do you expect sanctions to be effective?
When you place obstacles in the path of the opposition movement, what is there to thwart the regime’s aggressive conduct?
To understand this point, I must in particular refer to the role of the PMOI as the antithesis of the fundamentalist regime ruling Iran.
Khomeini and his remnants have erected their dictatorship under the banner of Islam; an Islam which is identified with limb amputation, stoning, misogyny, lies, deception and export of terrorism. In diametric opposition, the PMOI has presented a tolerant and democratic understanding of Islam.
A tolerant and democratic Islam is the only viable antidote to religious fascism under the banner of Islam.
This cultural character and the deep roots in Iranian society has made the PMOI an effective antithesis to the mullahs.
They are not only the reason for the failure of fundamentalism in Iran, but also the main bulwark against the advance of fundamentalism, namely the mullahs, in the region.
When the PMOI was placed on the terrorist list, the only organized Muslim movement which could block the advance of Islamic fundamentalism was in effect suppressed.
From this perspective, Ashraf’s unrivaled role becomes more prominent.
As millions of Iraqi have said in their statement, in virtue of their anti-fundamentalist and anti-extremist posture, the Mojahedin have stood with the Iraqi people as an alternative and the counter balance to the Iranian regime.
In a nutshell, in the past three decades, the United States has been standing on the wrong side, constantly assisting the mullahs. In order to accommodate the non-existent moderates within the regime, it repeatedly offered concessions to the mullahs. It labeled a movement which is the actor for change in Iran as terrorist. Inside Iraq, the target of Tehran’s covetous designs, it opened the gates to mullahs’ intervention. It subjected Ashraf, which symbolizes the Iranian people’s quest for freedom and is barrier against fundamentalism, to attacks and conspiracies by Iraqis, and through negotiations and appeasement brought the mullahs closer to nuclear weapons.
In recalling these colossal errors I intend to bring to an end the pain and suffering of the people of my homeland.
My intention in fighting this discredited label and in defending Ashraf is to bring freedom to the people of Iran.
What the American Statesman Thomas Jefferson once said “will spread, to some parts sooner, to others later,” must now spread to Iran, whose people are thirsty for freedom and democracy.
Allow me to conclude by underscoring several points:
First, sanctions are necessary, especially if they evolve into an oil embargo. But they will have an impact only when coupled with Iranian people’s Resistance.
Moreover, it is imperative that the mullahs’ human rights dossier, in particular the file on the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, is referred to the United Nations Security Council.
Second, the solution to the Iranian problem is democratic change by the Iranian people and Resistance. It is therefore necessary for the US to remove the obstacles placed on the path to change, particularly the terrorist designation of the PMOI.
Third, the most important aspect of the policy of appeasement in the past two years is the US’s violation of its commitment to protect Ashraf. The US must resume the protection of Ashraf residents and the UN must station its permanent monitoring there.
Fourth, as a Resistance movement which is the antithesis to Islamic fundamentalism, I stated that we are seeking the establishment of a republic based on the separation of church and state, a pluralist system of government based on gender equality and women’s active and equal participation in the leadership of the country. We also advocate human rights and the abolishment of medieval punishments and the mullahs’ Sharia laws. We want a non-nuclear Iran that would institute amicable relations with all countries around the world.
We are about to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, a prophet who said he had come to free the oppressed. In congratulating his followers, I urge all to support the Iranian people and Ashraf.
Thank you all very much and look forward to hearing your views.