By Mahmoud Hakamian
Thousands of people gathered in Ashraf 3, the home of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (Mujahedeen-e Khalq, PMOI or MEK) in Albania, on Saturday 13th July 2019. Politicians and officials from across the world attended with many making speeches to declare their support for the MEK, its leader Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, and the millions of suppressed Iranians in Iran.
During her speech, Mrs. Rajavi pointed out that the regime’s rule is coming to an end. She said it is in its “final chapter” and paid tribute to the many martyrs that have progressed the struggle to where it is today.
She called on governments to act like Albania – expel diplomats that are plotting terrorist activities on their soil. She also encourages further pressure on the regime because it deprives the mullahs of the means to suppress the people further.
Speaking about the intentions of the MEK, she said: “We are determined to create a new future, a new plan devoid of tyranny, reactionary thought, duplicity and discrimination. A new design for a free and prosperous Iran. So, we will sing in unison as we march toward victory: we will take back Iran and we will build a new homeland.”
Former Mayor of New York and personal attorney to the US President, Rudy Giuliani, described the MEK as “freedom fighters” that have fought with their blood and conscience. They said that they are going to liberate Iran and that they will go down in history for their role. Giuliani said that the United States should be ashamed and embarrassed. It is a nation that stands for freedom and democracy, but it has allowed 40 years of brutal suppression.
Addressing the #FreeIran2019 Conf. at Ashraf III,Albania. I accuse leaders of gov’ts who permit business with #RegimeOfTerror with supporting mass murder and terrorism. Time for prosecution of Khameini, Rowhani et al for crimes against humanity. pic.twitter.com/BBScwvrOYL— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) July 13, 2019
Giuliani said that EU governments must absolutely stand up against the regime. He questioned how EU governments can turn their back on the people of Iran, especially considering that these European countries gave us democracy.
Former NY Mayor @RudyGiuliani responds to lobbyists for Iran's regime: The MEK is committed to freedom and democracy in Iran. We should support them to bring regime change in their country.#IStandWithMaryamRajavi #FreeIran #WeSupportMEK pic.twitter.com/LbTv9X2Z7K— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) July 13, 2019
Former United States Senator (I-CT) Joseph Lieberman declared his commitment to the cause and paid tribute to the people of Ashraf who refused to yield or give in to the regime. He said that the mullahs are getting weaker with every day that passes and said that although he did not vote for President Trump, his efforts with Iran can only be described as “heroic” and “historic”.
.@JoeLieberman tells members of Iran's democratic opposition at the MEK's headquarters in Ashraf 3, Albania: "History is on your side. Freedom and justice will always prevail. And that is what the MEK and NCRI represent."#IStandWithMaryamRajavi #FreeIran #WeSupportMEK pic.twitter.com/SZCeQg7Ueb— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) July 13, 2019
Member of European Parliament and former Foreign and Interior Minister of France Michèle Alliot-Marie said that the achievement of the Resistance in creating Ashraf 3 is remarkable. She said that peace, freedom and happiness are what the people want, and they are what the people deserve more than anything.
Former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper started his speech by saying that there are few causes in the world that are more important than that of the Resistance. He said that the Iranian regime is the single most dangerous regime in the world and that its recent actions alone back up this claim. He said that the Iranian regime needs to be dealt with firmly because there is not a single ounce of moderation in its existence. He said that Canada has closed down the regime’s embassy and other countries must follow suit.
“The only realistic policy towards Iran is firmness. Post-sanctions, do what my government did in Canada: Close down the regime’s embassies around the world” - @stephenharper says at the annual #FreeIran conference#IStandWithMaryamRajavi #WeSupportMEK pic.twitter.com/ejxjmiCnz2— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) July 13, 2019
Former French Foreign Minister and co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières Bernard Kouchner described Ashraf 3 as “a masterpiece of art and friendship” and expressed his profound admiration for Mrs. Rajavi.
A delegation from US Congress included speeches by former Member of Congress Ted Poe, former Member of Congress Dana Rohrabacher and Member of US Congress from Texas Lance Gooden. They said that the designation of the MEK was a mistake and it was centred around the regime’s fear of the opposition. They called on the Resistance to make sure that the regime continues to be scared of its influence. They said: “Don’t fear the mullahs. Make the mullahs fear you.” Ted Poe said that Ashraf 3 is a “paradise for freedom”. The delegation also said that military conflict with Iran is not necessary. Rather, governments need to follow the example of Albania that supports the MEK and the people of Iran.
.@JudgeTedPoe: “The regime in Iran is cancer. When you have a snake, you must cut off the head of the snake… I’m here to tell you that the Lion & the Sword (the emblem of Iran's flag) will cut off the head of the serpent in Tehran”#IStandWithMaryamRajavi #FreeIran #WeSupportMEK pic.twitter.com/c7VPa32004— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) July 13, 2019
The Albanian delegation was represented by former Prime Minister of Albania and Member of Parliament Pandeli Majko, Deputy Minister of Interior in Albania Elona Gjebrea and MP and Leader of Albania's Republican Party Fatmir Mediu. They said that although politicians in Albania regularly fail to see eye-to-eye on many issues, one thing that the entire government agrees upon is the presence of the MEK in their country. They affirmed their commitment to the Resistance and pointed out that they have expelled the Iranian ambass
dor and his deputy from Albania because of its plots to attack the opposition.
The Albanian delegation, in a message to the regime, said: “Don’t push us.” They also said that they are committed to being active participants in the quest for freedom and democracy in Iran. They do not want to be mere observers.
Representatives from the UK government said that when they go back home, they will persevere with their efforts to get the British government to support Mrs. Rajavi’s 10-point plan that involves democracy, freedom, human rights and other values that the UK shares. The delegation was represented by Members of British Parliament Matthew Offord, Bob Blackman and Roger Godsiff, Member of British House of Lords, former Energy & Climate Change Minister Baroness Verma, and Member of the House of Lords Lord Mark McInnes. They said that Mrs. Rajavi is a “thorn in the regime’s side” because of her determination to achieve what the regime denies the people of Iran of.
Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge said that the MEK and its supporters are some of the kindest people in the world, thanking them for their genuine and touching messages of goodwill when he was having health problems. He said that these same people will be responsible for the freedom that future generations in Iran will have; freedoms that people take for granted every day elsewhere in the world.
Former Prime Minister of Algeria Sid Ahmed Ghozali, Member of Tunisian Parliament Mahmoud Kahri, Member of Moroccan Parliament Khadija Ziyani and Secretary General of the Syrian Coalition Mohamad Nazir Hakim represented the Arab delegates. They declared that there are many Arabs that walk on the same path as the Iranian Resistance, saying that the achievement of peace is something that they all want to see. They commended the MEK on its determination and paid tribute to the sacrifices that have been made along the way.
Former Director of the FBI Louis Freeh said that he wholeheartedly stands behind everything that his American colleagues have already said earlier in the day. He said that there was so much worry for the life of the Ashrafis while under siege, expressing his sorrow that many of them died. Speaking about policy towards Iran, he said sanctions are effective, but the prospect of being prosecuted and tried is what the regime fears the most. He said that he wants regime officials to be prosecuted and wants truth commissions to be set up. Freeh also said that the exhibition portraying the Resistance’s struggle over the years is not a museum. “It is evidence.”
Mayor of Paris’ first District Jean François Legaret and Member of French National Assembly Michèle de Vaucouleurs represented the French delegation that highlighted the human rights situation in Iran. They said that human rights should be a condition of economic relations with Iran. The French delegation also announced the pairing of a town in France. The Ashraf 3 mayor was promised that the twinned cities would have a permanent relationship.
The Italian delegation was represented by Member of Italian Senate Roberto Rampi, Members of Italian Parliament Giuseppina Occhionero and Antonio Tasso and former Member of Italian Senate Paolo Corsini. They said that they were present at the Free Iran event today to defend human rights and said that they will make sure their government does not allow economic interests to be put above human rights. “We will help you pursue your goals for peace.”
Marc Ginsberg, former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco and White House Middle East Adviser, said that he believes in the people of Iran and in the people of the Resistance. He said he wants to see a new US embassy open in Tehran very soon.
Former German deputy interior minister Eduard Lintner and Member of Bundestag (German Parliament) Martin Patzelt said that the mullahs are not able to stop the Resistance from moving forward. They also said that European governments should be supporting the MEK because it will bring peace to the world when the regime finally collapses, or at least it will lessen some of the troubles. In a message to the German government, and the governments of the EU, they said that economic interests must not be put before human rights. In a message to the regime, they said: “You will not win.”
John Baird, Former Foreign Minister of Canada, accompanied by the Canadian delegation, affirmed that his government is very aware of the reality of the regime. The Canadian government knows that the regime is responsible for many crimes and it knows that its propaganda needs to be fought against. He said: “Canada knows there is no such thing as a moderate fascist”.
Former Senator and Presidential Candidate of Columbia Ingrid Betancourt disputed the claims that Ashraf 3 is a closed compound. Said she has seen the Ashrafis carry out their daily tasks in all freedom and said that those who made the allegations should be ashamed. Addressing the mullahs, Betancourt said: “We are coming to get you and to hold you accountable for your crimes. We are coming to get you.”
Mrs. Hadassah Lieberman talked about her parents who survived the Holocaust and said that faced with such a terrible tragedy, she could understand the struggle. She called on the Resistance to keep shining bright because the light you give out changes the darkness. Rama Yade, former French Minister of Human Rights, paid tribute to Albania describing it as a “small country with a big heart”.
A delegation of female activists concentrated on women’s issues, speaking about the central role of women in the MEK and the gender equality that is evident throughout the organisation and the strength of the women of Iran who have made sure they are not silenced. Vice Chair of UN CEDAW Committee Bandana Rana, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (2003-2006) Yakin Ertuk, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (2009-2015) Rashida Manjoo, Minister of the High Court of Justice of Entre Rios Argentina and President of the International Association of Women Judges Susana Medina, Deputy Attorney General of Portugal Maria Candida Almeida and Director of the Center for Social Research in Delhi Ranjana Kumari highlighted that women of Iran continue to be discriminated against, but also pointed out that they refused to be silenced. They commended the women of the MEK and the women of Iran for becoming the “most vocal voice” and said that the current generation of Iranian women is as courageous, if not more courageous, than the generations of women that came before them. “You are not alone,” they declared.
Ambassador Robert Joseph, former undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, said that the Resistance is the front line in a battle for freedom. He said that if we deny that evil exists in Iran, we allow it to exist. We cannot ignore it. 120,000 people have been killed by a regime that is quite simply evil. He said: “Your cause will triumph. Your cause will prevail over evil.” Ambassador Joseph also said that the spirit of Ashraf 3 is “amazing”. He said that regime can fight the Resistance with bullets and missiles, it may kill their family members, it may imprison them, but the regime will not triumph over its spirit. “Your spirit is not defined by bitterness, but by hope. The truth is your most powerful ally.”
The US Military Delegation spoke about its first-hand experience of the Iranian regime’s brutality. Speakers Gen James Conway, former Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and General George Casey, former Chief of Staff of the US Army, said that the regime purposely uses terror to achieve its political and ideological ambitions.
They also highlighted that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he wants Iran to “behave like a normal country”. He wants Iran to stop firing missiles, to stop attacking tankers, to stop attacking aircraft in international air space, to stop being a state sponsor of terror, to stop trying to achieve a nuclear weapon and to stop attacking US bases. They emphasised that these are not unreasonable demands. They wondered how anyone can say the United States is asking for too much, pointing out that Iran’s behaviour is not normal behaviour - it is terrorist behaviour. “Any government that does not agree cannot be a viable world player.”
Former Minister of Publicity Saleh Al-Qalab and Member of Jordanian Parliament Issa Khashashneh spoke for the delegation from Jordan. They paid tribute to Mrs. Maryam Rajavi who they said was the representative of the people of Iran who are not represented by their own government. They said that the mullahs are taking Iran a thousand years back in time.
Ad Melkert, former UNAMI Special Representative, paid tribute to the MEK and Resistance movement, saying that much progress has been made in the past year alone and that it is well on its way to achieving its goal.
Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, former US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, spoke about the “curtain of obscurity” that Mrs. Rajavi mentioned during her speech. He said that there have been many allegations against the MEK that have all been disproved, yet the obscuring still remains. The press has recently been saying that Ashraf 3 is a “cult” and that the people are not allowed to speak freely. However, he explained that he has spent the past 3 days in Ashraf 3 and has spoken to many people there. Ambassador Bloomfield said that the people there have made it clear that they are dedicated to having choice and said that the “cult” argument has been proven to be false. He does not want to hear such an allegation ever again.
Representing the Nordic delegation, Lars Rise, former Member of Norwegian Parliament and Kimmo Sasi, member of Finnish Parliament and former Minister of Commerce, highlighted that the MEK and Resistance movement stands for the truth. They said that great progress is being made against the corrupt regime that has forced millions of people into poverty. They also highlighted that the word “ready” has been uttered on countless occasions throughout the day, signalling that the people and the MEK is ready for change. And that the time is now.
Finally, a delegation from the European Parliament spoke about the absolute determination of the Ashrafis. Former Vice President of the European Parliament Alejo Vidal Quadras, Member of the European Parliament Ryszard Czarnecki and Member of Chamber of Deputies of Romania Ben-Oni Ardelean represented the delegation, saying that the “Ashrafis are unbeatable”. They said that Ashraf 4 is Iran and it will be the final Ashraf.