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Frances Townsend: my great privilege to stand with Liberty residents


Frances Townsend, former White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor, 2004-07
Frances Townsend, former White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor, 2004-07

I met with Mrs. Rajavi and asked I wanted to go to Ashraf to meet with the women and the leaders there. And of course that request, while encouraged by Mrs. Rajavi, was denied by my own government. I had travelled to Iraq before during my time in the government and there was no good reason to have denied me. But they denied nonetheless and I met later with Mrs. Rajavi in Paris and she had she said a gift for me from the women of Ashraf, and she gave me a DVD which I came home and I watched and I was really quite moved. Unfortunately, the women who are on that DVD, now their photographs are on that wall. I watched that video and I asked myself what more could I or should I have done?
I must tell you that I am humbled and inspired by the voices of those martyrs. Those women didn’t just speak as we are left to do. They put their lives on the line and they lived their lives with the courage of their conviction. And so now it is left to me and to us to bear the responsibility to be those voices that were extinguished a year ago, and by their courage, by their martyrdom frankly, they have made me, they have made us Ashrafis.
I believe the greatest pain we bare in life is to watch those we love suffer. But with the watching of those we love suffer, whether it’s in Liberty or Ashraf, or at the hands of the oppressive regime in Iran, comes a responsibility to bear witness, we bear witness now and we demand action. I think I speak with my colleagues. It becomes tiresome to speak of the broken promises across multiple administrations.
I will tell you it is a great privilege when you hear a young man speak of losing his father, you hear about a mother losing a son, each of us have met with these families who hold pictures of the loved ones they have lost. There is no bringing those people back, but there is likewise no extinguishing their voices as long as you live, as long as you speak, and as long as we too help you to have your voices be heard. And so I would say to you it is my great humility and great privilege to stand with you and to stand with them, and to bear witness and demand action that their colleagues who remain be freed.



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