The keynote speaker was Maryam Rajavi, the President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). She said that “as the international community is recognizing the need to stand up to the Iranian regime’s malign activities, the mullahs are besieged with crisis at home and public discontent is expanding, putting the regime’s overthrow within reach.”
Rajavi went on to explain how the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) keeps the regime in power through suppression, consumes the Iranian economy, and increases its meddling in the affairs of Middle East nations. “The IRGC is tasked with protecting the mullahs’ medieval religious dictatorship through absolute suppression… it has tightened its grips on the lion’s share of the Iranian economy,” Rajavi said, and added, “instead of making investments in the country, it is pouring Iran’s wealth and revenues into the inferno of repression and terrorism. The IRGC’s special role, however, is confronting the Iranian people’s uprisings that are waiting in the wings.”
Rajavi stated, “the mullahs are besieged with crisis at home and public discontent is expanding, putting the regime’s overthrow within reach.”
Key speakers at the conference included: John Baird, former Foreign Minister of Canada; Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, former Assistant US Secretary of State; Rama Yade, former French Minister for Human Rights and George Sabra; and President of the Syrian National Council, and several others.
General James Conway, Commanding General of the US Marine Corps from 2006 to 2010 over 90,000 US and British forces in Iraq, and served two tours in Iraq was a key speaker. General Conway granted an interview during the conference.
Conway said, “I don’t think the Saudis and most of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the people of the Middle East did not think the last US administration had their backs. It seems we discounted our friends and valued our enemies during the last administration and that all has changed.”
He called blacklisting the IRGC, “absolutely the right thing to do.” He said, “it is a signal from our new administration that we are no longer playing softball with the Iranian regime. The game now is hardball. And I have lots of hope that it will have far reaching effects in terms of the economic aspect. It is not truly sanctions but it is a sanction-like activity, when you look at all the activities of the IRGC in trade and banking and similar activities.”
Regarding European and other US allies following the US lead of blacklisting the IRGC, he said, “I just heard from the former Foreign Minister of Canada, John Baird, that Canada has already done so. I saw some signs today from Europeans in the conference that there is serious talks on considering the blacklisting of the IRGC.”
Conway discussed the Iranian opposition and its role and prospects. He said, “The enthusiasm, motivation, intensity, and endurance of the Iranian opposition is amazing. I see them as an ally to the US and the West. I know the Iranian opposition from a long time ago when its members where based in Iraq in Camp Ashraf. I visited them in Camp Ashraf. I know them from a long time ago.”
He talked about prospects for a coalition against the Iranian regime in the region alongside the US, saying, “I think some sort of a coalition already exists. US has great friends and allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council and I think I can safely say Turkey, in Egypt and in Israel. In dealing with subversive activities, we give them moral and material support in some cases.”
He said further that, “Enthusiasm and momentum for change by the Iranian people seems to be in good direction. I really think Iranians were close to bring about regime change in 2009 and they probably learned a few lessons from that. What will happen in the next year or two, I don’t know. I hope it happens and if it happens, I hope it happens before the nuclear deal with Iran (that was signed in 2015) reaches to its close.”
Maryam Rajavi’s Speech at the Conference is reproduced in full, below:
Distinguished guests, dear friends,
Greetings to you all. I am very grateful to friends who have come from France, the United States, Canada, across Europe, and Arab countries to attend this conference in solidarity with the Iranian Resistance for freedom and democracy.
We have once again come together to convey to the world the voice of the suffering people of Iran; to say that the Iranian people and Resistance are prepared to overthrow the mullahs’ religious dictatorship and replace it with a government based on freedom, equality, and democracy.
They also demand the restoration of their human rights which the clerical regime has continued to trample upon to this day.
Last week marked the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You and many other compatriots braved the cold to hold a large and enthusiastic demonstration to echo the violated human rights of the Iranian people. As far as Iran is concerned, the clerical regime has built its rule on the ruins of this declaration, by destroying each and every one of its articles and by denying our people’s human rights.
In contrast, the Iranian people and Resistance have organized their freedom movement during the struggle for human rights. In the past two years, they have cornered the ruling mullahs by expanding the movement calling for jusintice for the victims of the 1988 massacre. And it is this confrontation over freedom and human rights which will ultimately end the clerical regime’s rule.
Today, we can hear the Iranian people’s cries for their rights across the country. Not a day goes by without Iranian workers, teachers, retirees or other sectors staging protests outside some government center. Outraged Iranian youths attack the mullahs on the streets. Political prisoners imprisoned on bogus charges and constantly under inhumane pressures and harassment, have waged a staunch resistance.
The investors, whose life savings have been pilfered by state-backed financial institutions, have staged protest gatherings in more than 100 cities over the past year. Today, at least one-fourth of Iranians have been swindled.
In addition to such pressures, people have to grapple with poverty and high prices. Skyrocketing prices in Iran are the worst in the world. The unemployed and the retired are in catastrophic conditions. One can hardly find any place else in the world with an unemployment rate of 40 percent. Seventy percent of wage earners in Iran live under the poverty line.
A month after the devastating earthquake in Kermanshah Province, the people have been abandoned in the cold, without homes and basic necessities of life and suffering from insecurity and fear.
Why? What is going on?
The reality is that Iran’s clerical regime has destroyed the country’s economy, revenues and environment, spending the nation’s wealth on domestic suppression and on the IRGC’s endless expenditures for waging wars and exporting terrorism to other countries in the region.
And this is what increasingly foments public discontent and fuels daily protests inside Iran, just like embers burning beneath the ashes. The ruling mullahs see the eruption of popular uprisings coupled with the Iranian people’s organized Resistance as the most dangerous existential threat to their rule.
The truth is that the people of Iran and Resistance demand fundamental change, for which they have offered 120,000 martyrs. But what obstructs them from achieving this, is the Revolutionary Guard Corps whose sole mission is to protect the mullahs’ religious dictatorship.
What is the role of this evil force inside Iran?
The IRGC is tasked with protecting the mullahs’ medieval religious dictatorship through absolute suppression.
Its job is to monitor and control the entire society through its intelligence organization, to create intelligence-gathering networks spanning across the country, and to employ anti-popular Bassij militias to close any window that would allow the people to act freely on the streets or in educational centers, offices, and factories.
The IRGC monitors and controls the cyber space and the internet, and prevents free circulation of information. It apprehends and tortures a large number of youths while extensively importing and distributing narcotics in Iran and facilitating their transit to Europe.
Many wonder why the disintegration of the Iranian economy has not been prevented in the past few years?
The reason is that with regime’s regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s blessings, the IRGC has tightened its grips on the lion’s share of the Iranian economy. Instead of making investments in the country, it is pouring Iran’s wealth and revenues into the inferno of repression and terrorism.
Indeed, who but the IRGC has pillaged the money deposited by millions of Iranians in financial and credit institutions?
The IRGC’s special role, however, is confronting the Iranian people’s uprisings that are waiting in the wings.
The Iranian regime perpetuated the eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s and is now waging war against the people of Syria, and meddling in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan, because it fears and continues to fear being overthrown by the people of Iran.
If the mullahs’ religious tyranny was not so detested within the country, it would not have needed the IRGC, the Qods Force, and a dozen mercenary groups in the region. And if the regime was not so unstable, it would not have needed to engage in destructive wars in the region.
Khamenei and IRGC commanders have reiterated time and again that if they don’t fight in Syria and Iraq, they would have to fight in Tehran, Hamedan and Isfahan.
The question is, who are they afraid of, which has prompted them to draw their line of defense in Iranian cities?
The answer is clear. It is the people of Iran which they fear so much. Despite massive repression and extensive arrests, they are terrified of the ultimate showdown with the Iranian people.
As the Iranian Resistance Leader Massoud Rajavi pointed out, “If one day, the clerical regime abandons its meddling and export of terrorism abroad, and gets confined to Iran’s borders, it would lose its raison d’etre and crumble from within.”
Two weeks ago, the regime’s former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wrote an open letter to Khamenei. “Today, the country is in perilous conditions… The public has no trust in senior directors and officials are confused… Despite oil sales, the country’s general situation has openly retrogressed,” he warned.
According to Ahmadinejad, the ongoing crises could bring about an unpredictable situation for the country at any moment.
All other regime officials share the former president’s fear of an unpredictable emergency situation arising.
But, what factor is making the situation so alarmingly critical and frightening for them?
The fear from the Iranian people’s resolve for change, embodied in their organized resistance.
The Iranian people’s desire for change is the regime’s persistent nightmare because there is a democratic alternative which can bring that yearning to fruition; a legitimate and broad-based Resistance with a long history of perseverance and struggle against the religious dictatorship.
The Iranian Resistance movement represents the Iranian people’s desire for a republic based on separation of religion and state, and is leading the freedom movement towards building a society based on gender equality and respect for human rights.
The Iranian Resistance movement is committed to uproot poverty and discrimination and herald economic and social progress.
This is why the regime has been always engaged in a relentless psychological war and smear campaign against the PMOI/MEK.
Eight years ago, around this time, we faced deadlines set by the mullahs’ puppet government in Iraq against the residents of Ashraf. They even sent buses inside Ashraf to take away PMOI members.
With that scheme having failed, the mullahs either launched missile attacks on Camp Liberty or sent Intelligence Ministry (MOIS) teams to besiege the camp and stage more psychological wars. Now, they continue to engage in the same smear campaign and churn out baseless lies against the PMOI which is now based in Albania. This is because the mullahs, the Qods Force and the MOIS are extremely alarmed and fearful of the PMOI’s expansion, cohesion and advancement, particularly after the relocation from Iraq.
We will never forget that four years ago, on December 17, 2013, PMOI members in Camp Liberty and their supporters in Geneva, Berlin, Ottawa, London, Melbourne, Washington, D.C., Stockholm, and Rome successfully concluded 108 days of a hunger strike to protest the massacre of PMOI members in Ashraf.
Many of you endured and persevered through those difficult days. The hunger strike started as a protest against the 2013 massacre at Camp Ashraf and ended with the ruling of a Court in Spain against the perpetrators. Once again, the members of this Resistance demonstrated their perseverance and firm resolve.
Yes, daily protests and expressions of discontent in Iran are dangerous for the mullahs because they see that there is a Resistance movement and a strong and determined alternative prepared to shape the future towards Iran’s freedom. They are horrified because they see that the people of Iran have set their sights on such a bright and hopeful future and are strengthened and heartened by such a resistance and alternative.
Today, albeit long overdue, the international community has finally acknowledged the dangers and threats posed by the IRGC.
These statements are a positive step forward but not sufficient to confront the increasing damage caused by this destructive force. Moreover, the nations in the region have paid a heavy and bloody price because of western governments’ appeasement of the Iranian regime over so many years.
The same policy of appeasement opened the way for the IRGC to expand its mischief. The clerical regime prepared the grounds for the emergence of Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) by suppressing the people of Iraq and Syria. Then, under the pretext of combating Daesh, it provoked western governments to cooperate with it and used the opportunity to expand the IRGC’s network of crimes and terrorism.
As the US representative to the United Nations recently pointed out, the Iranian regime has breached US Security Council resolutions and is a threat to world’s peace and security.
Western governments must compensate for the enormous damage their policy has caused over the past years. Just as it was necessary to confront Daesh, it is far more imperative now to fight a hundred-times greater danger: the religious dictatorship in Iran, the IRGC and its mercenary militias.
Western governments’ policy on Iran are full of contradictions, which gives the regime breathing space. Ten days ago, I attended a conference at the European Parliament with a special focus on the EU’s Iran policy. So long as the EU is under the illusion that it could contain the regime’s dangers by giving it concessions, it would be as if it is feeding the crocodile.
Unfortunately, the EU has abandoned its own values in stepping up trade with the mullahs. It has turned a blind eye on flagrant violations of human rights in Iran.
We believe that the EU should abandon a policy that facilitates the regime’s destabilization of the Middle East and its suppression of the people of Iran. We believe that it should prevent the regime from taking advantage of diplomatic and commercial cooperation to advance its dangerous objectives. Instead, the EU must undertake a coherent policy of firmness towards the Iranian regime.
The international community is expected to go beyond making mere political statements.
The Iranian regime has not paid any price for its destructive policies in Iran and the region. The mullahs more vulnerable than any other time.
Therefore, on behalf of the Iranian people and the Resistance, I call on all western governments to:
1. Designate the IRGC as a terrorist entity and deny this criminal force and the entire Iranian regime access to the international banking system;
2. Expel the IRGC and its militias from Syria, Iraq, and other countries in the region and prevent their transfer of troops and arms via these countries;
3. Expel the operatives of the terrorist Qods Force and the Intelligence Ministry (MOIS) from Europe and the U.S.;
4. Predicate all diplomatic and commercial relations with the mullahs’ religious dictatorship on an end to torture and executions in Iran;
5. Call on the UN Security Council to set up a special tribunal on or refer the dossier of the Iranian regime’s crimes, particularly the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, to the International Criminal Court, to prosecute the regime’s leaders.
6. Support reimbursing the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran and the National Liberation Army of Iran for their properties, equipment, arms and basecamps by the government of Iraq.
And finally, as I have said before, recognizing the National Council of Resistance of Iran as the sole democratic alternative to the religious, terrorist dictatorship ruling Iran is indispensable to ending and rectifying the disastrous policy of appeasement pursued by the US and Europe in the previous years.
The overthrow of the clerical regime is certain and within reach. This is the only solution to the problems in Iran, the region, and the world.
The people of Iran, particularly the courageous youths and 1000 bastions of rebellion across the country, will realize this vital objective. They will have the final say: freedom, democracy, and equality.
Hail to the people of Iran
Long live freedom
God bless you all