On July 13, 2019, dignitaries from dozens of countries across the world attended the main event of the Free Iran 2019 international conference. The conference was part of the five-day Free Iran 2019 series of conferences at the main headquarters of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in Ashraf 3, Albania. Several dignitaries, political and human rights activists delivered speeches, issuing remarks about the struggles of the Iranian people and their resistance movement for freedom in their country.
Following are key remarks by Senator Joseph Lieberman at the Ashraf 3 conference.
Senator Joseph Lieberman:
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. It is not only an honor but exciting to be here in Ashraf 3. We gathered in some great meetings in Paris at this time of the year. The crowds were enormous. I never, even when I was running for vice president of the United States, spoke to a crowd bigger than I spoke to when the PMOI, MEK met in Paris. And as they say on a movie, we will always have Paris. Right? But there is nowhere I would rather be today than in Ashraf 3.
And let me explain why in first personal terms. For years, particularly the Iranian-American community led by some great representatives in Washington, the cause of the residents of Ashraf, the cause of what I would call the prisoners of the bizarrely insane named Camp Liberty, was embraced by more and more members of Congress of both political parties. You’re a cause. We were irritated and anxious when your freedom was repressed, when you were let down and you were treated unfairly, including by the United States of America. We were hurt, heartbroken and angry when you were terrorized and murdered in Camp Liberty by Iranian forces. But you were a cause to us. This weekend, we have met you. You are real people. We have heard your stories. You have deepened our commitment to stand with you every step of the way from the hell that you lived in in Camp Liberty to the heaven that will be life in a liberated Iran.
Well, it’s hard not to believe on a weekend like this, in a gathering like this, with so many leaders from around the world who are saying to you not just that Iran is ready for a new day and dawn of freedom, not just that you are ready for a new day of dawn and freedom in Iran, but for all of us around the world we are ready to stand with you in the fight for freedom. And though our language skills might not be great, we have all learned a phrase this weekend. (Hazzer, Hazzer, Hazzer). We are ready. And we will stand with you every step of the way. (Hazzer, Hazzer).
Now, why do I say a new day is dawning? It’s not there yet but we’re getting close to a new day of freedom in Iran. It’s because of a confluence of forces that have come together. And the first is represented by the liberation of Ashrafis and the miraculous building of this community here in Albania. Now, this great movement, you suffered, you refused to yield, you refused to give in, but right alongside you was the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the MEK led by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. They would not leave you behind. It might have been easy. But in standing with you and fighting for your freedom, they told the rest of the world a lot about themselves. And you told us a lot about this movement. And now that you are here, the NCRI and the MEK can focus with full attention and energy on the ground, on the battlefield for freedom in Iran.
Resistance groups are growing every day as the regime is weakening every day. There was a while after the Iran nuclear agreement was signed in 2015, in spite of the fight that many of us made against it because it was a bad agreement for the Iranian people, for the United States, for the world, for all the reasons that have been said, I thought that a new day could only dawn from the ground up in Iran. And of course that’s necessary but now something new and different has happened. And what I’m about to say, I’m saying as a Democrat and I’m saying as somebody who didn’t vote for Donald Trump in 2016, and that’s why I hope you believe I’m saying it with all the more sincerity. President Trump has been heroic and historic in taking the actions he has to break the Iran nuclear agreement, to impose sanctions on the Iranian government. We have gone from the specious, the baseless charges of terrorism against the MEK, NCRI, now to where they truly belong. Today, it’s the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) that is clearly known and designated as a terrorist organization. And that’s what it is.
So now we have a coming together of forces for freedom. People angry, upset, deprived of their freedom, deprived of their opportunity, sick of this radical religious dictatorship that has seized a great nation and holds it captive. They are yearning to be free. Now we have resistance organizations gathered together in the NCRI, building networks throughout the country. And now we have the United Sates of America. And hopefully, as Rudy [Giuliani] said so eloquently and passionately, our allies in Europe and throughout the free world standing against this regime in Tehran and for the people of Iran. Yes, my friends, that day of freedom in Iran will soon be dawning if we stick together and make it happen. And we can. And we will.
Now, there will be people, particularly at this moment of opportunity, who will argue for accommodation with the regime in Iran because they will say it’s impossible to overthrow a regime like this. They will argue for appeasement. And we know where that got Chamberlain with Hitler in Europe during the 1930s. It got us World War II and millions of deaths in that war.
So, don’t listen to the appeasers. Don’t listen to the accommodationists, don’t listen to the pessimists. There were pessimists who said to a hearty brand of brothers and sisters in colonial revolutionary American who had the audacity to want to declare their freedom from the United Kingdom, well then Britain, the king, the monarch, one of the greatest empires in the world. But they didn’t listen to the accommodationists, the appeasers and the pessimists. They band together and they won their freedom, just as you will win your freedom as we band together with you in that historic cause. History is on your side. In the end, freedom and justice and right always prevail and that is what the NCRI and the MEK represent. Yes, my friends (Hazzer, Hazzer, Hazzer). We are ready.
Now, there’s someone you and I both know if he were still alive would be here today. A great fighter for human rights throughout the world and a devoted believer in the cause of freedom for the people of Iran and the cause of the NCRI, PMOI, MEK. And that is my dear and our dear beloved friend, a blessed memory, the honorable John S. McCain, Senator from Arizona. [applause]
Thank you. Thank you. God bless his soul. You know, I’m spiritual enough to believe that he heard that up there and thank you. John could not be here of course today, he left us last August. But he was in Ashraf 3 in April of 2017. And I want to bring back to you the words he said, he would be so astounded and impressed by what has become of Ashraf 3 today.
And here’s what John said on that day to people who are here, “You have stood up and fought and sacrificed for freedom, for the right to determine your own future, for the rights that are given by God. I thank you for being an example to the whole world that those who are willing to fight and sacrifice for freedom always will achieve it.” End of quote from John McCain. I’m proud to bring his words to you because they are true. The battle to liberate Iran from the radical religious dictators who control it today is a battle that not only has great significance for the people of Iran, but for the cause of freedom throughout the world.
And if I may go one step further and add this word about what a new Iran will mean to the world, one of the great and really unnecessary conflicts that destabilizes our world is the battle that was begun by radical extremists who have exploited and expropriated the religion of Islam. It’s created conflict within Islam. It’s created conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims. It’s created bigotry and anti-Muslim feeling in the non-Muslim world. It all began with thinkers long ago, radical thinkers, but it really began with the revolution in Iran. And it will end when those who led that revolution, who have imposed the radical religious dictatorship on Iran, who have carried out aggression in countries throughout the region, who have supported terrorists, Islamic extremist terrorists, Shia and Sunni, regardless, because they agree with the extremism and radicalism. The day when the unnecessary conflict between Islam and the rest of the world ends is the day that the radical religious dictatorship in Iran falls. And that is the larger cause for which you all are fighting for every day. And it is not, it is not just that you represent an alternative to the ayatollahs, the mullahs in Iran today. You represent the right alternative.
And it begins, as every movement must—the movement doesn’t happen automatically. A movement needs a strong principled collaborative leader. And that is what you have, thank God, in Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. She is able, she is principled, she is visionary, she is selfless, she cares for every one of you.
Yesterday, my wife and I walked through the exhibition here, the 120,000 martyrs, with Mrs. [Maryam] Rajavi. And she looked at those—it was really like walking through a Holocaust museum. And she looked at every one of the faces there as if they were members of her family. That is the way she feels about every one of you and about every citizen of Iran. You are blessed to have such a leader and it makes it that much easier for my friends from the United States and around the world to stand with you as we will until victory is secured.
Looking at this movement’s history, it’s remarkable that you fought both the Shah’s dictatorship, and then have stood against the mullahs as well, because your north star is freedom, is human rights. Ashraf 3 is the best testament to this fact, to the fact that this movement presents a viable alternative to the regime.
So, let me once more say in conclusion, to others in the world who would preach appeasement, who would disillusion themselves, who would allow themselves to be entrapped in foolish, wasteful discussions with the mullahs, it’s time to stand firm against the regime. It’s time to stand with the people of Iran. It’s time to stand for the people’s freedom. It’s time to bring a government to Iran that will reject claims of leadership based on heredity or religion. The people of Iran deserve a government that is accountable to them, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And together, yes, we can. We are ready. (Hazzer, Hazzer, Hazzer). We are ready.