Garry Kasparov, World Chess Champion, Pro-democratic political activist, addressed at the 2nd Day of The Free Iran World Summit on July 12, 2021.
I’m honored to address the Free Iran World Summit today. My sympathies are with the people of Iran living in the regime today, and with Iranians, everyone living with dark memories of oppression and mourning. For all the foreign interference, terror, and war caused by the illegitimate Iranian regime, it is vital to remember that no one suffers more than the citizens of that regime.
I say illegitimate because every dictatorship is illegitimate. It has no authority from the people. Instead, it oppresses and tortures. Iran is not a government. Iran is its people. And like all people, they deserve to determine their own lives. What happens in Iran, to those who wish to do this, became clear in 1988. 30,000 political prisoners were murdered in Iran that year. Thirty-three years later and there has been no justice for the victims and their families. And no accountability for Ayatollah Khomeini’s order or for those who carry them out.
A long list that includes the new president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, of course, he was not really elected. The word election is a sham in Iran, just like in Russian. He was chosen to play a role. And that’s such a Moses finger was selected. As a message from the regime, the Iranian, and the world, we have committed terrible atrocities in the past. And we will not hesitate to commit war.
How can the free world, the world of democracies that supposedly value human life, negotiate with a regime of Northerners? How can the leaders of Congress like the United States, which often talks about the importance of human rights, sit across the table from Raisi, whose role in the 1988 massacre was well-established? Of course, they should not. Not at the same table, not in the same room. Dictators do not change because of diplomacy or negotiations. They did not liberalize from engagement or deals or kindness. They only understand power. So, their power must be reduced. Terror regimes should be isolated, and their leaders treated like criminals that they are. That is how you can support the people and the victims of these regimes.
Instead, the United States is repeating a terrible mistake by negotiating with Iran’s leaders in Vienna. These negotiations are a waste of time for everyone except Iran’s brutal rulers, who benefit from these elevated status. They’re also buying time to pursue the world’s most dangerous weapons. The United States is once again pretending that Supreme Leader Khamenei is interested in acting in good faith in this negotiation. In reality, the only thing he cares about is staying in power.
It is a tragedy that we must steal talk of freedom as a goal that must be fought for. One that is the fundamental right of everyone, everywhere. Iranian’s deserve the freedom to determine their destiny, to live without fear. So are as the Russians, Chinese, and the billions of people living under dictatorships around the world. They deserve freedom. Just as much as any American or German or Japanese.
These goals cannot be reached by giving brutal regimes what they want. Dictatorships do not turn into democracies on their own. International community must bring maximum pressure on the Iranian regime, isolate its leaders, and to support those fighting for democracy and human rights in Iran.
To do anything less is to forget the crimes of the past, to ignore the crimes of the present, and to enable the crimes of the future. Thank you again for inviting me. All my best wishes to the participants of the Free Iran World Summit and every Iranian wishing to live in peace and free.