On Saturday, July 10 was the start of the Free Iran 2021 World Summit, which was the biggest online international event focused on the liberation of Iran and its people from the Iranian religious dictatorship to create a democratic society.
The event, organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) connected 32,000 locations across 102 countries on six continents and was watched by over one million people. It featured speeches from democracy activists, former senior government officials, current politicians, military leaders, and Iranian ex-pats from all over the world.
The Summit took place less than a month after the widespread nationwide boycott of the Iranian elections, as organized by the Iranian Resistance group and NCRI member, the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), who had held rallies and put up signs reading “vote for regime change”. The election saw Ebrahim Raisi, known for his role in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, become President through behind-the-scenes maneuvering by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
The conference opened with a speech from NCRI president-elect Maryam Rajavi, who described Iran as “besieged by religious tyranny, the Coronavirus, and hunger” but also harboring “volcanic uprisings”.
This is a prediction, as many have over the past two years, that the Iranian people will once again rise up in protest as they did in 2017 and 2019. That’s why, she said, that the regime had to place “the life-taking judge” Raisi in the presidential seat with the wrongful belief that this could keep the mullahs in power and prevent their overthrow.
Rajavi said that the regime’s power plays will not be successful though, saying that “fake notions of moderation and reformism” will not be believed by the people and they will come together to overthrow the regime in a revolution.
She said: “The Iranian Resistance’s asset and greatest backing are the furious masses who are not satisfied with anything less than the overthrow of this regime… Our power comes from a nationwide network of Resistance Units who have been working ceaselessly all days of the year, and in the year 2020, they doubled the number of their activities and operations compared to the previous year, in order to break the spell of repression.”
Rajavi explained that the international community should support this because there could now be no doubt that the 40-year appeasement policy has failed and that the mullahs’ continued grip on power threatens the Iranian people through violence and repression and the rest of the world through warmongering and terrorism.
She said: “The experience of forty years of formidable struggle proves that the ruling regime will not change unless it is overthrown through an uprising. Our will and that of our people can be summed up in these three words: freedom, democracy, and equality. As far as the international community is concerned, we ask it to recognize the struggle of the Iranian people to overthrow this regime and recognize these three concepts.”
Rajavi said that the Iranian Resistance wants those responsible for the 1988 massacre to be charged with “crimes against humanity and genocide”, including Khamenei, Raisi, and Judiciary Chief Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejeii, subjected to international sanctions, and she urged the United Nations Security Council to arrange this, as well as stopping Raisi from attending the next UN General Assembly session. Otherwise, the regime would continue to threaten global security.
However, she was quick to stress that the Iranian people and Resistance must be the ones to overthrow the regime, rather than a foreign intervention as was the case of Iraq in 2003.
She said: “To achieve freedom, we are not betting on chance or pinning hope on a miracle that will break the spell of repression. The campaign for the overthrow is something we build with our own hands and through immense suffering. We have illuminated the path that the oppressed society is eager to follow.”
After Rajavi’s speech, former United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo took the stage and gave an impassioned speech about restoring Iran and its people to its “rightful place”, which he has been fighting for over the past ten years.
He advised that the Iranian people began their fight for freedom under the rule of the Shah, culminating in the 1979 revolution that was usurped by the mullahs, whom he described as “brutal”, “craven”, and “kleptocratic”.
Pompeo said: “[They] will kill their own by the thousands and then choose those who committed these massive atrocities to now lead their terror organization and their regime.”
He further explained how there is this myth of moderation regarding the mullahs, even though their behavior doesn’t change whether foreign powers appease them or hold them to account for their crimes.
To this point, he cited that the US placed the regime under sanctions in 2018, which has weakened the mullahs considerably, putting the regime at “its weakest point in decades”.
Pompeo then spoke about the recent election boycott in Iran, which took place at a, particularly “precarious” time for the mullahs, citing that turnout was the lowest in the history of the regime, “marking a total rejection of the regime and its candidates”, including Raisi. Of course, he was quick to advise that all Iranian elections since 1979 served solely to “give an appearance of republicanism to a corrupt, brutal theocracy”.
So, what should be done? Well, he stressed that, as the US has done, Iran policy must focus on human rights and counter-terrorism.
He said: “The United States should take the lead to hold [Raisi] accountable for crimes against humanity. Any dealings with Raisi would be tantamount to dealing with a mass murderer. This is not only immoral but also counterproductive. We should make clear to our allies in Europe and Asia as well to make sure that they hold him accountable, and that if they deal with this man who sent thousands of his countrymen to execution in a massacre in 1988, the United States would hold them accountable as well.”
Furthermore, Pompeo stressed that the international community “must support the Iranian people”, in addition to increasing pressure on the mullahs through sanctions and diplomatic isolation. Anything less would just prolong the suffering of the Iranian people.
He said: “In the end, the Iranian people will have a secular, democratic, non-nuclear Republic, I pray that this day will come soon and with the support of Iranians living all around the world – and those who resist from within — that day will come sooner.”
Slovenia Prime Minister Janez Janša then took the mic to call for an independent United Nations Commission inquiry into the 1988 massacre, whose victims he said had been basically ignored for the past 33 years. He said this was especially essential given that Raisi will soon be president and Amnesty International accused him of crimes against humanity during that massacre.
Janša said: “I therefore once again clearly and loudly support the call of the UN investigator on human rights in Iran who has called for an inquiry into state-ordered executions of thousands of political prisoners and the role played by Raisi.”
The Summit then turned to speeches from people inside Iran who pledged their support for the Resistance and regime overthrow, even though the regime severely punished NCRI and MEK members and supporters, so they are taking a great risk.
Stephen Harper, the former Prime Minister of Canada, was the next speaker. He criticized the 2015 nuclear deal, saying that it extended the regime’s terrorist network and that the campaign to renew it allowed the regime to dispense with the pretense of moderation in the recent elections, which is how Raisi became the president.
He said: “Raisi is the very person whom the regime has long entrusted to jail or kill anyone who is actually moderate in 1988, as one of the four members of the prosecution committee he ordered the execution of some 30,000 political prisoners. Shame on any government in the world that would sit down and try to negotiate anything with an administration led by Ebrahim Raisi.”
The next participant was former Speaker of the British House of Commons John Bercow who stressed his support for the Iranian people and their quest for freedom.
He said: “I am absolutely crystal clear in my mind that the Iranian people continue to reject all oppression and indeed throughout the protests of which there have been so many over the decades… I support the NCRI president’s 10-point plan for the country’s future.”
Bercow then voiced his support for an investigation of Raisi for his crimes against the Iranian people because he’s “the very embodiment of the bloodthirsty tyrant”. He promised the Iranian people that they would succeed and the bigots would fall.
Former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini then spoke about how many of his fellow politicians have been talking with their Iranian counterparts (reformists and hardliners) and stressed that “there is no difference” between the groups, as both deny the Iranian people their “non-negotiable fundamental rights”.
He said: “It is important now to open the eyes of the international community. The regime used the nuclear deal as leverage for recognition of their role in the region. They want to be recognized politically and this is the point where they should fail.”
Frattini advised that sanctions aren’t hurting the people of Iran, just the mullahs, so the West should not negotiate a new deal with the regime and instead stand strong on their commitment to human rights.
Donna Brazile, the former Democratic National Committee Chair, spoke of her humility from watching the Iranian Resistance stand up to the regime in favor of a democratic and secular state, before stressing that the current US Congress stood with the Iranian people.
She said: “The struggle for self-determination equality and human rights is often hard and always long. Never give up, never give up. You should never forget that when you are on the side of universal equality, you are on the side of truth.”
Senator Bob Menendez of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the Iranian people are “blighted” by a regime only interested in “self-preservation, sowing chaos [and] repression”, as seen by the appointment of Raisi, who is under US sanctions.
Then, US Senator Cory Booker said that the US is “a friend to the Iranian people” and that he is confident that we will soon see a free Iran.
US Senator Roy Blunt said: “The Ayatollah and his enablers continued to deny the Iranian people basic political religious or social freedoms, including the basic right to life itself. Iranian authorities conduct unimaginable horrors, especially against those who dare to speak the truth… We have to continue to hold the Iranian regime accountable before its abuses at home and for its aggressive actions around the world.”
Afterward, US Senator and former Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee John Cornyn said that the international community must stand together to oppose the regime’s oppression and urged President Joe Biden to help counter the threat of a nuclear Iran.
US Senator Margaret Hassan said: “I’ll continue supporting an American foreign policy that pushes for human rights and stands with democratic movements in oppressive countries. The regime in Tehran must be held accountable for treating women as second-class citizens and for persecuting human rights advocates journalists and ethnic minorities.”
Former House of Representatives Member Patrick J. Kennedy said that the mullahs have abandoned their “facade of moderation” through making Raisi president and that there’s no excuse for anyone to deny the truth of the regime any longer.
Then, the former Prime Minister of Albania Pandeli Majko said: “We express our deep concerns about ongoing human rights violations in Iran… Raisi is accused of crimes against humanity by international human rights organizations. He is elected now as president.”
While Albanian Democratic Party Chair Lulzim Basha expressed his party’s full support for the Iranian people’s quest for freedom and democracy, citing that the regime’s recurring “unprovoked aggression and violence” shows that the mullahs are “willing to break the most essential norms of international order at the cost of innocent lives and regional stability”.
He said: “We stand firmly against the Iranian regime’s illegal and terrorist practices on our soil and its structured enterprise to export fundamentalism to Albania. We support the Iranian people’s desire for change and commend Madam Rajavi and her efforts to offer the people of Iran the perspective of a free, secular, and democratic country.”
French Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie thanked Rajavi for fighting for the freedom of Iran, saying that Iranians must “choose their own destiny”.
Then, former UK Trade Minister Liam Fox called the regime “dangerous, draconian, destabilizing”, saying that it oppresses the people of Iran, as well as exporting chaos internationally through terrorism, warfare, and nuclear weapons.
He said: “An agreement with Iran may be possible but it must take account of Iran’s human rights abuses its exports of terror its explicit threat to the security of Israel and its attempt to destabilize its regional neighbors.”
The next to speak was former Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, who explained that Raisi’s appointment should be “a loud warning” to Western governments wanting to renegotiate the nuclear deal, because of his “heinous and bloody repressions against any opposition”.
He stressed that when politicians meet with the regime, they should not ignore the “extreme suffering” of Iranians and called for a new Euro-Atlantic front on the threat from Iran, specifically the network of Iranian operatives in embassies across the West.
Terzi said: “In these circumstances, you should look to the organized, effective, and democratic alternative with its competent leadership. The pillar of this alternative and its strength and steadfastness’ came about through the Iranians struggle against the Shah’s regime and from inside the Shah’s prisons.”
Human rights advocate Martin Luther King III, the son of Martin Luther King Jr, expressed his concern over human rights in Iran and quoted his father who had once said that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.
He said: “I wholeheartedly support legislation in the United States Congress to promote freedom and human rights in Iran. House Resolution 118, which expresses the Iranian people’s desire for a democratic, secular and non-nuclear republic of Iran also condemns violations of human rights and state-sponsored terrorism by the Iranian government.”
Congressman Tom McClintock, who is on the House Judiciary Committee, said that the world must “hold the current regime to account” or else the mullahs may do something far worse to the Iranian people seeking to establish freedom.
He said: “The Iranian people have resisted nuclear adventurism and have pushed for a non-nuclear country. It was the Iranian Resistance that first blew the lid on the regime’s illegal nuclear sites and weapons programs. Although the Iranian regime has become more oppressive and extreme, the international resistance to them has become stronger and more resolute.”
Congressman Dean Philips said: “I’m an original cosponsor of House Resolution 118 because the Iranian people have been deprived of fundamental freedoms for far too long. The Iranian people deserve the right to vote, to be confident that elections are free and fair, and to experience gender, religious, and ethnic equality.”
Former National Security Advisor General James L. Jones also spoke about how we mustn’t ignore the mullahs’ abuses and praised the Iranian activists for their continued work to free Iran.
He said: “It is somewhat inconceivable that the West does not condemn this international criminal (Raisi). What more does he need to do to deserve condemnation from democratic countries? Already, leading human rights institutions and top UN human rights experts have called for an impartial investigation into Raisi’s role in the 1988 massacre. Why the silence? It is time to end the culture of impunity for Tehran’s mass murderers. Enough is enough.”
The Summit will continue through Sunday and Monday.