Excerpts of the speech of Professor Ivan Sascha Sheehan, The University of Baltimore, at the Free Iran 2022, is as follows:
Madam Rajavi, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, we gather today at a consequential moment in history. A moment when democracy itself is under attack around the world. We see it in Iran, where the tyrannical regime has visited violence on the Iranian people and denied their pro-democracy aspirations. And we see it in authoritarian regimes around the world.
We gather after a shameful decision by the Belgian parliament to return a convicted terrorist to Iran. We gather following a momentous decision by a Swedish court to convict and sentence the Iranian official for crimes against humanity and terrible acts carried out against members of the MEK.
We gather after two years of countrywide anti-regime protests in Iran. We’ve heard their clarion calls for freedom, and their chance have been translated around the world.
The news that your World Summit has been subjected to acts of violence once again is hardly surprising. Yes, it’s disappointing. Yes, it’s maddening. Yes, it’s frustrating. But it’s not shocking. Because for more than 40 years, this movement, the PMOI, has been the principal focus of the regime’s attention.
We know as scholars that authoritarian regimes fear internal pressure more than they do external threats. And this is for good reason. Because this resistance movement has stood for all the things the regime has not.
For decades, the resistance has stood for justice and democracy, gender equality and human rights, and a nonnuclear, nonthreatening, nonbelligerent secular state that is at peace with regional powers and at peace with the world.
We have all witnessed your supporters in the United States. Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, current and former officials sanctioned by the Iranian regime, 61 of them at all, including 31 members of the United States Congress. I am proud tonight to stand with them, and I’m proud that many are here this week.
We need to speak with one voice. And tonight, I am here to tell you your American friends are here. The world is here. We will not be intimidated. We will not be frightened; we will not be scared away.
But we will continue to draw on your strengths and your courage and your conviction and the example that you set. It is clear to me that we are on the brink of change. And so, in closing, let me say that for almost 15 years, I have studied the Iranian resistance.
I have examined the pro-democracy democracy opposition in France and here in Albania, and I have met with the opposition supporters in the United States. But it is my hope that I will next be able to study the implementation of your ideals into free and democratic Iran. Thank you so much.