TEXT OF ADDRESS BY MRS. MARYAM RAJAVI
PRESIDENT-ELECT, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF RESISTANCE OF IRAN
MARCH 23, 2010
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am happy to be among the elected representatives of German people,
First, I would like to express my gratitude to you for your concern about human rights violations in my country Iran.
I would especially like to express my heartfelt appreciation to you for your support for Iranian freedom fighters in Ashraf. 1
I also deem it necessary to honor the memory of Mrs. Ingrid Holzhüter, former President of the German Committee for Solidarity with a Free Iran. The Iranian people and Resistance will always hold Mrs. Ingrid Holzhüter in high esteem and cherish her tireless efforts in defending the Iranian Resistance and Camp Ashraf.
I have come here today in circumstances where the issue of Iran has taken center stage internationally. I would like to concentrate on two issues:
First, the developments in Iran: Are the prospects for an end to religious dictatorship real? Can the Iranian opposition bring about change? What are the factors that restrict or delay the process and what are the ones that act as catalysts?
The second issue concerns the solution to the Iranian crisis. What is the correct policy for the West to adopt towards Iran?
Before delving into these topics, however, please allow me to point out as a preface the summary of some points about which I take to be a consensus:
• The nationwide uprising of the Iranian people over the past 9 months clearly showed that the Iranian people seek an end to the religious dictatorship;
• The rifts within the clerical regime have occurred at the highest level, as a result fundamentally weakening the regime.2
• The increase in domestic suppression and the acceleration of the nuclear weapons program, coupled with the intensification of meddling in Iraq, show that the clerical regime has no intention of producing a change in its behavior or of harboring reforms.
• The policy of the West and the European Union geared towards producing a change of behavior by the regime through negotiations and appeasement has proven to be mistaken and counterproductive. The core of this policy relied on keeping the Iranian Resistance at arm’s length and imposing restrictions on it.
The Trend of the Developments
We believe that the prospects for change are real. Despite a brutal suppression, the regime has failed to curb the uprising. Khamenei has not been able to mend the fissures within the regime. Conflicts at the apex of power have caused defections of a significant portion of the regime’s forces, which it had relied on for years.3 Based on the credible information we have obtained, there are signs of instability even among the ranks of the IRGC, which has acted as the regime’s principal suppressive organ.4
What is more important, however, is the eruption of the vast social potential during the nine-month-long uprising, which has gradually accumulated as a result of 30 years of religious suppression, corruption, poverty and social ills such as prostitution. That eruption has undercut the status of the regime’s Supreme Leader. Therefore, the situation will not revert to the past and despite any ebbs and flows on this path, the trend will continue to progress until an end to the religious dictatorship in Iran.
The continuation of the protests in circumstances where the regime faces fissures within itself has had an auxiliary effect. The people’s positive response to the Iranian Resistance’s calls to turn the traditional ritual of Chaharshanbeh Souri (Fire Festival) into a protest act against the regime signals the formation of a single front and consensus among people with regards to the path and methods adopted by the Iranian Resistance, which has always urged for the rejection of the regime in its entirety.
Despite the regime’s superficial prowess, change is on the horizon. In 1988 or even early 1989 almost no one predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990. The power of Stasi, the Army and their willingness to carry out suppression had instilled the notion that change would be impossible. But, behind the veneer of that exterior, hid a faltering and vulnerable political system.
In today’s Iran, there is an organized resistance movement. The Resistance’s network inside the country is comprised of youths and women, as well as the families and relatives of more than 120,000 slain political prisoners and hundreds of thousands of other political prisoners throughout the past three decades. This network plays a significant role in organizing and guiding anti-regime protests. In recent months, the regime has sentenced a number of Resistance supporters to death during show trials, acknowledging such organizational prowess.
Another unambiguous feature of the Iranian Resistance is the presence of 3,400 of its activists in Camp Ashraf in Iraq. Many of them have been struggling for freedom throughout the past three decades. Ashraf is the symbol of perseverance, the heartland of hope, and an inspiration to the Iranian people to wage resistance for freedom. That is why the regime has not spared any efforts to destroy it.
Finally, as the most enduring political coalition in Iranian history, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has a clear and publicly declared political platform, bringing into focus a clear prospect for the Iranian people and also for the international community.
By declaring commitment to the three principles of rejecting religious dictatorship, embracing the establishment of a republic and separation of church and state, the NCRI has opened the doors for all other political forces to join a broad and extensive coalition.
At the same time, the Iranian Resistance’s stance in support of a non-nuclear Iran and peaceful co-existence with all the countries in the world acts as a serious litmus test for the responsible policies of this Resistance which has rendered it as a party for reliable negotiations on the world stage.
Of course, there are obstacles on the path for change. In addition to widespread suppression inside Iran, the lack of a firm policy vis-à-vis the clerical regime on the part of the West has also acted as an obstacle to bring about change in Iran.
By establishing extensive economic relations with the regime and restricting the main Iranian opposition, the West has provided the greatly contributed to the regime’s survival. The policy of negotiations and appeasement has allowed the mullahs to inch closer to obtaining a nuclear weapon while strengthening their fundamentalist policies and proxies in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.
Today, the clerical regime is the most serious threat to global peace and security. The solution to this threat is neither the continuation of appeasement nor foreign military intervention. There is only one solution: Democratic change by the Iranian people and their organized resistance. However, the West continues to play a restrictive role against the main factor for bringing about change, namely the Iranian Resistance.
In recent months, the necessity of a firm policy has taken center stage but has still not been quite answered. We are still witnessing inaction by the EU.5 The regime’s most fundamental needs are still fulfilled through economic relations with the West. According to London Financial Times the volume of trade between Iran and Europe in 2008 was over 11 billion euros, one third of which took place with Germany.6 The regime has also obtained equipment from Europe and Germany which it uses for suppression and intimidation of the Iranian people. 7
Revenues resulting from such commerce are placed at the disposal of the IRGC which currently has a monopoly on the Iranian economy. In recent years, the so-called “privatization” policy has handed over large industries, including oil and gas, to the IRGC.8 Generated revenues from economic deals are spent on suppression, developing of nuclear weapons, and providing funding to fundamentalist and terrorist forces in the region.
As such, the Iranian Resistance calls on western governments, in particular the German Government, to take the following measures:
1. Impose comprehensive sanctions, especially with regards to oil and gasoline, against the regime.9 Opposition to sanctions by citing supposed harm to regular Iranians is an enormous deception. We have credible information from inside the regime that even the minimal sanctions on banking have led to crippling effects for the regime.10 Moreover, the IRGC must be placed on the list of terrorist organizations and the mullahs’ intelligence agents in Europe must be expelled.
2. Sanctions are necessary11 but not sufficient. Sanctions must be coupled with a change of policy towards the Iranian Resistance. Thus far, the policy of western countries has prevented the Iranian Resistance from being able to harness all its potentials to bring about change. The time has come for the NCRI to be recognized.
3. In the face of the threats emanating from the Iranian regime and its allies in Iraq to annihilate Ashraf residents, Europe must warn the Iraqi government against use of violence and call on the United Nations to assume the protection of Ashraf.
1- There are 3,400 members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) residing in Camp Ashraf in Iraq. In July 2009, at the behest of the Iranian regime, Iraqi forces attacked the camp, murdering 11 people and wounding 500 more. 36 Ashraf residents were taken hostage for 72 days. As a result of an extensive international campaign, which was supported by German lawmakers, bolstered by the hostages’ hunger strike and that of Iranians in various countries, including Germany, the Iraqi government was ultimately forced to release the hostages. Consequently, a United Nations monitoring team was stationed at Camp Ashraf.
2- One of the signs revealing this rift is the widening differences between Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ali Khamenei. In December 2009, before his death, Ayatollah Ali Montazeri, Ruhollah Khomeini’s former designated heir, as the highest ranking religious authority, officially declared the government to be unjust. A number of other high ranking clerics, including Ayatollah Youssef Sanei, have taken a stance against Khamenei. Moreover, in political terms, the faction of defeated presidential candidates (Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi) has always been part of the regime and its members have held senior positions in the regime.
3- According to a classified report by a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Tehran: “We are faced with a shortage of [paramilitary] Bassij forces. Their families exert pressure that their children must not take part in confronting protests. As such, we are witnessing defections on a daily basis. The beating up of Bassijis and other forces by people has had a negative effect on morale of the forces. It is imperative to have a plan to prevent these daily defections and raise moral among commanders.”
4- According to a secret report produced by the regime, the State Security Forces (SSF) did not perform their duties well during the protests on December 27, 2009. Even the special units could not operate at a satisfactory level. When SSF officials were criticized about their inability to firmly suppress the protests, they retorted that they are worried about the situation turning into another Kahrizak prison scandal. They added that our forces are unstable.
5- One of the signs of inaction is lack of a serious response to the brutal suppression of uprisings, including show trials and death sentences issued merely on charges of contacts with PMOI supporters. In similar cases, there have been some actions such as summoning ambassadors. Another aspect is the lack of imposition of sanctions even as there have been ongoing talks for months. The EU can impose sanctions independent of the UN. In view of the fact that the EU is the main trade partner of the Iranian regime, EU sanctions would be profoundly influential.
6- The trading partners of many German companies are IRGC-affiliated businesses. For example, Shahed International, also known as ICS, is an IRGC front company which is active in Hamburg. The same is true with Misaq, which has purchased electronic equipment from Germany for the IRGC and the State Security Forces. IMACO, affiliated with the Foundation of the Oppressed, has made huge purchases from various German companies, including stoves, oven, and centrifuges, among other things.
7- The engineering firm Saberin Development Horizon is one of the “IRGC Co-Op Foundation” companies, which has acquired from various countries, including Germany, communications equipment and parts, closed-circuit cameras and microphones for IRGC’s intelligence organs, including the IRGC Protection and Intelligence.
8- For example, the Angouran mine, which is the largest lead and zinc mine in the Middle East and one of the biggest in the world. Three buyers colluded to acquire the mine in 2009 through a fraudulent contract worth about $153 million. The same mine was priced at $600 million just two years ago. It is now in effect controlled by the “Iranians’ Mehr Economic Institution,” which is owned by the IRGC’s Bassij Force. In addition, the IRGC controls the Telecommunications Company, construction and road building companies, Kurdistan Tractor Manufacturing, Sadra Oil Company, Bahman Cigarette Manufactuing Group, Saipa Car Manufacturing Group, Kermanshah Petrochemicals, and others. The IRGC also imports annually billions of dollars worth of commodities into the Iranian market including luxury items, home appliances, pharmaceutical drugs, spare parts, cell phones, SIM cards, various electronics products, and foodstuffs, through airports, docks, and other locations it controls without going through the legal customs procedures.
9- Despite gasoline rationing, Iran’s average gasoline use is more than 64.6 million litres, 9 million litres of which is used daily in Tehran city alone. Gasoline imports are currently 20.9 million litres daily on average, which shows a 19 percent increase compared to last year’s data. In the past year, the regime has not been able to increase the productivity of domestic refineries or to build new ones. That is why gasoline imports have become profoundly crucial for the regime and sanctions will cause serious problems for the regime.
10- A secret report obtained from inside the Iranian regime says that sanctions on banks have not only had important negative consequences on purchases but also sales from Iran. For this reason, some large companies have shunned dealings with Iran. The revenues primarily rely on oil exports. If the door to sales is closed, then, the report reads, the regime would face serious challenges. In 2008, the regime’s Supreme National Security Council set up a working group to identify ways to circumvent sanctions on the banking sector.
11- A secret report from inside the regime produced by one of the regime’s nuclear program managers says that with the onset of some sanctions, the regime has faced serious challenges in obtaining the required items for building centrifuges, especially since the large quantities of maraging steel previously purchased from Britain are running out. In an another classified report, the director of a Ministry of Defence parts company writes, “Currently, we have a serious problem for obtaining items for laser. One of the company’s laser equipment was inoperative and it took us months to repair as a result of some restrictions. I don’t understand how they could say that sanctions have no effects. Even now that the sanctions are not entirely imposed, we are running into serious difficulties.”