Excerpts of speech of Deborah Lee James, Former United States Secretary of the Air Force until 2017, at the Free Iran 2022, is as follows:
Thank you for that very kind introduction.
To the participants of Free Iran World Summit 2022 to the Conference of Iranian Communities in Europe, to the survivors and the families of human rights violations in Iran and living in exile and the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, I want to begin today by telling you just how much you continue to inspire me each and every day. This is the third time that I have been privileged to address a gathering such as yours.
This is a gathering dedicated to the cause of the secular, democratic and nonnuclear Republic of Iran. We all know that the people of Iran are ready for change. You’re crying out for change. But the people of Iran are not looking to the past. No, quite to the contrary. They’re looking to the future. They reject both the ruling religious tyranny and the deposed Pahlavi dictatorship that ruled before it because, in their view, the Crown paved the way for the turban.
These two regimes may differ in style and form, but their substance is exactly the same. Both dictatorships stand against fundamental freedoms and the people’s interests. Now, here’s the good news, with each passing year, I believe the moment grows closer and closer when you will finally be able to seize your country back from the despots and the tyrants who deny you life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
These words – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – are words from America’s Declaration of Independence. It’s what all Americans want.
And I know it’s what all of you want as well. Now, if I may speak from the heart as a woman, as a sister, as a daughter, as a mother, it fills me with enormous pride to watch video clips of the eight major uprisings in Iran since 2018 and to see so many women leading the charge.
They are women from all walks of life showing enormous courage and commitment, sending the unmistakable message to the corrupt regime in Tehran that the day of reckoning is near and that you will soon be overthrown.
I’m filled with emotion as I watch these courageous women and men of Iran who have continued sending these messages over and over again despite the cold-blooded shooting of protesters by security forces and more than 400 political executions carried out by the government this year alone. Again, I say this is remarkable bravery by the people in the face of unspeakable brutality by the regime. Now I want to speak to you for a moment as the former Secretary of the United States Air Force.
There is just no doubt that the regime in Iran is spending way too much of the national wealth of Iran, and not on the welfare of the people of Iran, but on groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, nuclear weapons development and terrorism abroad, including upon Iranians in exile.
These policies on the part of the regime must come to an end. They must be replaced with the policy of peaceful coexistence with neighbors, as Mrs. Rajavi’s ten point plan calls for. This is a plan that also advocates for universal suffrage, gender equality, respect for human rights, an independent judiciary, and the establishment of a secular, non-nuclear and democratic republic.
I know that the organized opposition, spearheaded by resistance units inside Iran, is determined to achieve just these goals. And, by the way, no one has suffered more, no one deserves deliverance more, than the MEK over the last 40 years. It began when, in 1988, death commissions, which included the current president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, ordered that 30,000 MEK members and sympathizers be executed based on a fatwa by the regime’s founder, Khomeini.
I say to those of you who suffered, including to those who survived the years of imprisonment and torture in Iran and have now come together at Ashraf-3 in Albania, that you have shown that you can turn misery into opportunity for the future. I hope one day to visit with you in Ashraf-3 because it’s a place that inspires all Iranians, especially the younger generation in Iran, and stands as a bastion of freedom, a beacon of hope, and a model of friendship with the Albanian people. All of this is thanks to your spirit and perseverance.
My friends, Iran is definitely at a threshold. The mullahs appear deadlocked. They’re stuck with a crippled economy, runaway inflation, increasing unemployment, and spreading poverty. Moreover, intelligence failures and purges within the IRGC are showing cracks in the mullahs’ suppressive apparatus. The Iranian people reject the mullahs.
And now the community of nations understands what’s really happening in today’s Iran. That community understands that Ebrahim Raisi has the blood of tens of thousands on his hands. We understand that his only qualification to become president was his willingness to crack down hard and oppress the people. And I also hope the community of nations, like many of us here in the United States, has come to realize that appeasement simply does not work.
Indeed, I fear that the recent treaty signed between Brussels and Tehran, which will facilitate the release of a convicted and imprisoned terrorist who conspired to blow up this very summit in Paris in 2018, will open the gates of Europe to even more terrorism by Tehran.
How sweet the day will be when your voices and your resistance movement, led by a woman and comprised of 50% women, ultimately bring down the very regime that treats women as second class citizens.
So I say to you, stand tall, take heart, and keep leading with strong voices. Because you are the mothers, the daughters, the fathers, and the brothers who will one day deliver the right of self-determination and freedom to the people of Iran. Thank you so much for your commitment to your country, to human rights, and for your commitment to each other.