On March 11, 2023, a bipartisan summit featuring prominent politicians and former senior military commanders was held in Washington, DC to offer recommendations for new US policy on Iran amid the country’s ongoing nationwide uprising, which has now been ongoing for six months. The conference was organized in response to the bipartisan congressional majority, H. Res 100, which was announced on March 9, 2023, in support of a non-nuclear, secular, republic of Iran.
The summit was attended by hundreds of Iranian American community leaders from across the United States, who stood in solidarity with the Iranian people and their enduring uprising. Following the policy summit, a rally was held featuring an expansive photo exhibition honoring the victims of the uprising on the US Capitol Grounds.
The keynote speaker at the event was Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and other speakers included Mike Pence, the former Vice President of the United States. Pence reiterated the importance of standing with the people of Iran and supporting their aspirations for democracy.
Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
I salute you all.
With special greetings to the distinguished figures of the United States who support the noble struggle of the Iranian people to overthrow the regime and establish freedom and democracy.
It has been nearly six months since Iran’s nationwide uprising began. Despite the regime’s widespread crackdown on the protest movement, Iran’s uprising remains the most significant threat to the existence of the regime.
Despite this brutal suppression, the regime has failed to uproot the uprising. Because:
First, this uprising has roots in the explosive state of society, poverty, unemployment, and above all the catastrophic situation of women.
Second, the Resistance Units and a nationwide network of organized resistance inside the country play a serious role in the uprising.
For this reason, the situation in Iran will never return to before the beginning of this uprising.
The cries of death to Khamenei have spread across Iran. People have no fear and nothing to lose.
The regime has become weaker and faces more defections. It cannot prevent the explosive situation, because that needs fundamental reforms, which will in turn lead to the regime’s overthrow.
But, the explosive situation of society, does not lead to the regime’s overthrow by itself. Without the presence of an organized force ready to make sacrifices, this situation will not have a result in favor of people. To set the great social engine in motion, an organized and dedicated force is inevitable.
Today, we are witnessing the work of that engine all over the country. Despite the regime’s extensive arrests, an increasing number of people joined the MEK Resistance Units during the uprising. Recently the Resistance Units undertook dozens of anti-regime operations daily, including burning regime symbols.
As a result, the regime is making every effort to eliminate the MEK, resorting to demonization campaigns in addition to suppression.
The regime has never hesitated to use its so-called opponents to confront its primary enemy, the MEK. This is because the regime sees the MEK as the engine of the uprising and overthrow.
In this context, the regime seeks to overshadow the democratic alternative by promoting remnants of the previous regime, which is nothing but a “transition” from the current regime to the former regime.
The Iranian people fully understand that the monarchy in Iran has always been a manifestation of fascism. During Shah, all freedom fighters were either imprisoned or executed, which enabled the mullahs to hijack the leadership of the revolution. The people strongly reject any kind of dictatorship, including the return to monarchy. One of the most widely chanted slogans has become “death to the oppressor, be it the Shah or the mullahs.”
Today, young boys and girls are shouting “we will fight, we will die, we will take back Iran” in the streets of our country. These chants echo over four decades of resistance and the sacrifices of 120,000 martyrs on the path to freedom.
The missing link in western policy is its exclusion of the Iranian people and the Resistance from the equation in Iran. This has harmful effects not only on the people of Iran but also on the region and the world.
House Resolution 100, entitled “Expressing support for the Iranian people’s desire for a democratic, secular, and non-nuclear Republic of Iran” provides a framework for a principled policy. The resolution affirms that Congress “stands with the people of Iran who are legitimately defending their rights for freedom against repression.”
The National Council of Resistance of Iran is the most long-lasting political coalition in Iran’s modern history.
The NCRI is fighting for the establishment of a democratic republic in Iran, which guarantees free elections, freedom of speech and assembly, the separation of religion and state, gender equality, autonomy for nationalities, and a non-nuclear Iran.
On behalf of the Iranian people’s Resistance, I call on the United States to:
— declare the Iranian people’s struggle to overthrow the regime as just, necessary, and legitimate;
— recognize the right of the rebellious youth to defend themselves against the terrorist Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
Mike Pence, 48th Vice President of the United States
It’s an honor to address the Organization of Iranian American Communities and to share this podium today with a distinguished group of Americans that I deeply admire who represent a cross-section of support in the United States for this cause. Let me be clear I am here, and they are here because we share a common cause: the liberation of the Iranian people from decades of tyranny and the rebirth of a free, peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Iran.
I know I speak on behalf of tens of millions of Americans of both political parties and every political philosophy when I say from my heart that the American people support your goal of establishing a secular, democratic, non-nuclear Iranian republic that derives its powers from the consent of the governed.
What the Iranian people have endured since 1979 will be recorded by history as one of the great tragedies of the modern era.
I can see in your eyes, in the countenance and confidence; in your face I can see in the faces of the people that we met at Ashraf 3, when my wife and I traveled there not long ago, the people of Iran will someday be free.
I’m proud that under the Trump-Pence administration, America did not turn a deaf ear to the pleas of the Iranian people. We did not remain silent in the face of the Iranian regime’s countless atrocities, sowing violence across the region. We stood with the freedom-loving people in Iran, we cancelled the Iran nuclear deal which had flooded the regime’s coffers with tens of billions of dollars, money that it used to repress its own people and support deadly terror attacks around the world. We imposed crippling new sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. We launched a campaign of maximum pressure, punishing the regime for its belligerent behavior and assault on its own citizens. We vigorously enforced sanctions to bring Iran’s exports of oil to nearly zero and deny the regime its principal source of revenue. And we called on the free nations of the world to stand with us and with the Iranian people. We encouraged world leaders to condemn Iran’s unelected dictators and defend the Iranian people’s unalienable right to determine their own destiny in no uncertain terms.
Appeasement has never worked, and it never will. A renewed nuclear deal won’t lead to peace and stability. It will lead to more terrorism, death, destruction, and destabilize the region. A renewed deal won’t block Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb. A renewed nuclear deal won’t benefit the people of Iran in any way, shape, or form. It will empower and enrich the regime that has tormented and tortured the Iranian people for generations. So today, we call on the Biden administration to stand with the people of Iran, stand up for the cause of freedom and justice, and cease and desist all efforts in support of nuclear negotiations with Tehran. Peace is only possible with strength.
The regime’s sole focus now is on maintaining its precarious grip on power, which grows weaker by the day. There’s no question why they selected Ebrahim Raisi to serve as the Iranian regime president. I hardly need to tell many of you just how evil Raisi is. His crimes will not go unpunished. Ebrahim Raisi is unworthy of leading the great nation of Iran. He must be removed from office by the people of Iran and prosecuted for crimes against humanity and genocide.
Today, the resistance movement in Iran has never been stronger. Every day we’re inspired by the courage of young women and men taking to the streets without regard to their personal safety to stand for a free and democratic future. Resistance Units in Iran are the wellspring of hope for the Iranian people. They’re an engine for change from within during the uprisings and continued protests, and everyday they’re growing stronger while the regime grows weaker.
I truly believe this is not just another protest. It’s a revolution in the making. And it’s owing to the confidence and faith of all of you, and most especially to the brave Iranians, especially the women, who have paid an enormous price leading the decades long fight for freedom and justice.
One of the biggest lies of the ruling regime to the world is that there’s no alternative to the status quo. But you know different. There is an alternative, a well-organized, fully prepared, perfectly qualified, popularly supported alternative. And I want to thank Maryam Rajavi for her outstanding leadership and inspiration to the world.
The regime should know that we’re not fooled by the fake reformers and regime puppets pretending to be moderates. We know that many of these so-called reformers offer nothing more than false hope and the illusion of change. People of Iran want real change, and real change is exactly what MEK offers.
Maryam Rajavi’s ten-point plan for the future of Iran will ensure freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and the freedom of every Iranian to choose their elected leaders.
Just this week, more than 220 members of the United States House of Representatives in both political parties cosponsored a resolution expressing support people’s desire for a democratic, secular, and non-nuclear republic of Iran.
The mullahs were outraged, but that’s one more reason to cosponsor the resolution, and those members of Congress should wear their outrage as a badge of honor. And again, let me say I congratulate the Republicans and Democrats who step forward to take this stand.
The regime in Tehran wants to trick the world into believing that the Iranian protesters want to return to dictatorship of the Shah. But we’re not confused by their lies. The Iranian people do not want to replace one dictator with another. The Iranian people want to be free.
All free nations of the world must continue to support the Iranian people and their calls for freedom and demand that Iran’s leaders cease their dangerous and destabilizing actions at home and abroad. We stand with the people of Iran because it is right and because the regime in Tehran threatens the peace and security of the world.
The day will come when the unelected ayatollahs release their iron fisted grip on Iran and the people, and a new glorious day will dawn a bright future will begin ushering in an era of peace prosperity stability and freedom for the good people of Iran.
Q & A of Vice President Mike Pence and Chief of Staff Marc Short
What is the significance of laying out of a vision for a pro-freedom future in Iran?
I think the importance of the ten-point plan is what I believe is evidence that growing support for the resolution in Congress gives structure to a vision for post-dictatorship by the ayatollahs or its past.
Before 1979 when the Ayatollah went to Paris he spoke in vague terms about what the future would look like, and when the Shah fell and they came in the world was horrified at what took over this great nation. And I believe the 10-point plan gives evidence to the fact that this movement is different than any movement in the past. It’s a movement that’s grounded in democratic principles and a commitment to stability and peace.
What responsibility does the current administration have to make sure that the world stays concerned about the growing threat in Iran?
We cannot let the world forget that the greatest source of terrorism in the world is Iran and the mullahs.
Do not be discouraged by changing American administrations because the American people’s commitment to freedom does not change.
The atrocity of the poisoning of girls in schools around Iran the other atrocities the jailing of thousands by the regime, and the attempt to suppress a movement that continues to break out across Iran, it’s a story that needs to be told.
Why is it important for the regime to suppress the notion that there is an alternative?
Mrs. Rajavi and the ten-point plan represents I think the greatest threat to the regime in the long term, to know that there are Iranian people in Iran, around the world in the Iranian Diaspora, here in the United States, in Albania and Ashraf 3, and elsewhere who are committed to the freedoms that we inscribed in our Bill of Rights.
I want my grandchildren to come of age in a world where they look at Iran, and they see a free and democratic people. They see a people who in their lifetime struggled and won freedom, just as we did in 1776.
What’s your message for the people of Iran?
I truly do believe that when we make freedom our cause, we make this cause on this earth our own. And so, you do not fight alone and if you just have faith, if you have courage, if you stand firm, you’ll see a victory for freedom in Iran.
General Wesley Clark, Former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe
What a powerful statement this organization is making today. And I agree that it is in support of Iran’s uprising, because that’s what we need.
Iran has always been a central concern for the United States. And today, we’re living in historic times. Times of potentially great changes in Iran is going to become even more important for the United States.
After 1979 there was hope, hope for a democratic transition in Iran. And then it all collapsed as a radical cleric returned from France and seized control with a fundamentalist agenda, and for the past 44 years has waged a strongly anti-American campaign for regional hegemony built on tyrannical repression at home and terrorism abroad. That has to be ended. For the people of Iran, who longed for freedom and democratic rule, there’s been no relief.
For years the MEK resisted the Ayatollah from bases in Iraq, and then you got caught in the conflict between Saddam and the United States, and it took more years to clarify this. Now you’re established in Albania, safely established there, and you’re a vital force for freedom and democracy. And not only in Iran. You’re an example, a living example around the world.
We did a great job at promoting and extolling democracy. We in the United States now, we didn’t always succeed in helping people. We haven’t succeeded in helping you enough yet, in my view.
But these ideas freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of conscience, free access to information, the right to choose one’s own leaders, to dress and behave as one chooses, with respect for others, of course, to shape the laws under which we live. These freedoms are like a powerful, benign infectious virus. People catch it, they get it, they want it. It’s universal across mankind.
It spells real trouble for dictators and autocrats everywhere.
The United States did try to regain or to gain Iran’s commitment, to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that would rein in the nuclear program. And it was cancelled, and the United States has tried again to regain it. That’s unsuccessful. I think it’s essentially dead. And with it, I believe, is dying the policy of accommodating the ayatollah’s regime.
This prolonged period of regional ambiguity of western striving and failing to check the ayatollahs ambitions, I believe, is coming to an end. But it shouldn’t take Israeli bombs to bring it to an end. That’s the wrong way. The right way is the people of Iran standing up.
The revolution is already underway, step-by-step, with determined popular protests growing. A popular, democratic, secular program announced and offered in 100 different channels by Mrs. Rajavi and courageous student leaders.
The ayatollahs will pass. And this transformation of Iran is sparked by and built upon the greatest revolution of the 21st century: The power, the leadership, the courage, the wisdom of women.
To prove that people can govern themselves, they don’t need a dictator, a monarch, or a tyrant.
This organization is at the very heart of Iran’s future. Your decades of resistance, sacrifice, steadfast determination, courage, persistence. I think it’s unique in scale. In modern times, there’s never been anything like this, in our understanding of modern human history.
But here’s the challenge. After this revolution, will you blossom into a new structure for a peaceful Iran, open to human imagination even as you provide the foundations for a new government. Will you rally the technocrats, the fence sitters, the still uncommitted, and the fearful millions into a new system that’s been fully articulated but has not yet been tested by the fires of fear and revenge.
Will you be able to provide both justice and forgiveness to heal a great civilization? Will you bring its former enemies, to regret and repentance? Will you meet the needs and wishes of all the citizens of Iran. I believe the answers to these questions are in Mrs. Rajavi’s ten-point plan.
Gov. Gary Locke, Former US Secretary of Commerce (2009–2011), and the 21st Governor of Washington (1997–2005)
I’m truly humbled to be here to speak to you today and to express my support as you continue your unrelenting fight for a free and democratic Iran. And it’s a special honor to follow Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which has put forth a ten-point plan for a democratic Iran, which includes being governed by the rule of law so fundamental to a free and just society. And this plan has been endorsed by 224 members of both political parties in the new 118th Congress.
And thank you, Mrs. Rajavi, for your steadfast leadership and dedication to a democratic and free Iran.
The people in the government of the United States of America stand in full solidarity with the people of Iran and fully support their desire to be a free people, and you are waging a heroic uprising against a corrupt and brutal terrorist regime.
The people of Iran are suffering under this brutal current regime. With the protests, social and political unrest, and major national uprisings of the recent years, and now the nationwide protest of the last several months, it’s clear that the Iranian people want fundamental political change that will transform the current system of despotic religious fascism.
The Iranian people deserve a government that respects democratic norms, the rule of law and places the needs, dreams, and aspirations of the Iranian people above repression at home and terrorism abroad.
It’s therefore critical for the United States and other democracies around the world to stand with the Iranian people.
Democracies must support the resistance and opposition groups that have played a crucial role in countering the regime’s repressive actions and giving hope to millions of Iranians who yearn for freedom.
Since the tyrants governing Iran came to power in 1979, hundreds of thousands of Iranians have suffered arrest and death for standing up to these crew rulers. In addition to being a state sponsor of terrorism, the regime in Tehran continues to suppress the most fundamental human rights of its own people. Women in Iran suffer under a system of discrimination and inequality, according to the laws of the Islamic Republic.
The protests that started after Mahsa Amini’s death have unleashed a broad-based movement across class and ethnic lines, all united in opposition to cleric rule. Merchants shut their businesses and workers joined in the strikes and the protests. Different from past uprisings, the current protests, spearheaded by women and young people and joined by men, have transformed into a universal call for regime change and democracy, from the Kurds to the Arabs, from the Baluchis to the various nationalities and ethnicities, and among the followers of many religions. They want a free republic based on separation of religion and state. And with every protester killed, especially innocent children, the regime has only fueled more protests.
And it’s not just women who have suffered under the regime. Ethnic minorities in Iran are among the most subjugated, dehumanized, and repressed groups in Iran, including under the time of the dictatorship of the Shah. While the current sociopolitical and socioeconomic situations are difficult for the wider Iranian population, the nation’s ethnic minorities are suffering the worst social, economic, and political deprivation, including the deprivation of education and healthcare.
Tehran must be treated like the pariah state it is. The international community must side with the Iranian people in their historic and heroic struggle for freedom and democracy.
International bodies, from the UN to the World Court, must hold regime leaders accountable for the decades of crimes against humanity.
The protests that started in September 2022 are not a sudden overnight phenomenon, yet another visible manifestation and result of 40 plus years of organized resistance to the regime.
And during this time, the MEK and its leadership have paid a huge price in blood. The role of women in the leadership ranks of the resistance and in fighting back against the clerics is clearly evident in the streets of Iran.
The revolution you are supporting is about bringing democracy and freedom to Iran. It is not about returning to the dark and brutal days of the dictatorial monarchy of the Shah.
The people of Iran have paid a heavy price in their resistance against two dictatorships, the current regime and the Shah.
And many relatives of those murdered by the regime are now part of the brave MEK resistance units within Iran.
Iran will never return to its pre-September 2022 days. And it will not return to the single party dictatorial rule of the Shah’s monarchy because the chants by the protesters in Iran include “Death to the oppressor, be it the Shah or the leader!”
Senator Sam Brownback, former United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
Haven’t we had enough of dictators? Aren’t we finished with this yet? The Iranian people, just want a normal life. That’s one of the chants on the street. I just want a normal life. Dictators aren’t letting them have it. No more hyperinflation, no more enslavement. Just allow me to live a normal life! The Iranian regime has already lost the hearts of their own people. They are now losing control of their own country.
The Iranian people can and will throw off their rulers. They are doing so now. I pray for the success of the people of Iran to end this night of tyranny and to be free.
This is the most sustained protest in the history of this illegitimate regime of what is taking place right now. We need to remind Europe that it’s the Iranian mullahs who are arming Russia against Ukraine and against Europe and against democracy. Iran needs to be heavily sanctioned by the West.
We should not be supporting these regimes with our economies.
We need to remind Islam and people from Islamic countries need to be reminded that what the dictating mullahs are doing harms Islam. There is no compulsion under Islam. There is complete compulsion under the Iranian regime. If you have to force somebody to believe, that’s not a religion, that’s not a faith, that’s slavery.
Senator Robert Torricelli
Something is fundamentally different. We meet this day in this room and you know something has changed. The pot has been boiling. Pressure has been building, it has been coming for years and it is about to boil over in a new revolution in Iran. You can feel it.
Thinking about the students who’ve left their classrooms. The mothers who have watched their sons and daughters leave home to take to the streets. The workers that closed their shops. It is mounting like a tide. And the day will come, as General Clark has suggested, that among them will be the soldiers who take off their uniforms and stand not with the mullahs, but with the people. That is the final day of this revolution.
But even without the regime having fallen, we are close enough to have an honest conversation. Because we did not fight all these years. All the young Iranians did not lose their lives, people have not languished in jail, people have not been tortured to be denied again. The Iranian people had a revolution. And it was stolen. It will not be stolen again by anyone.
I’ve seen this act before. The train starts leaving the station, headed to victory. And as it’s leaving, people try to grab on board. I got it. I got it. Be careful of it. Everyone is welcome to this cause everyone, Iranians and non-Iranians. The past is the past. We’re moving forward. But we are not exchanging a theocracy for another kleptocracy.
To our friends who have lived the good life behind the gilded gates of their Beverly Hills homes, and those who have enjoyed the good life and the hills of Switzerland, we welcome you to the cause, but we have not fought, we have not died, we have not struggled to replace one dictatorship with another dictatorship. It will not happen this time.
There are so many heroes in this struggle, even as it goes on. But some are worth noting. I take nothing from those who stand at the barricades and who will put everything on the line. But the fact is, revolutions don’t happen by chance. There are leaders. There are always some who had it a little bit above the crowd.
To the leader of every revolutionary cell in Iran, everyone who organized, friends and neighbors, every member of the MEK in Iran who was sure that the struggle would go on, history will never forget you. We will never forget you. There are many heroes, but there are none like you in the MEK in Iran who have risked everything, whose very actions are cause for their execution, God bless you. We thank you. History will be yours.
Just as the hour gets close to victory, there will always be those who say, it would be faster if we would compromise. It would be easier if we took a little less. It would be better if we broadened the coalition to those who have a different vision of the future. Not this time. Our vision is clear. It is Mrs. Rajavi’s ten-point plan. Iran will be democratic. Women will be respected with equal rights. It will be non-nuclear. It will be at peace with its neighbors and friends. It will assure quality free life for the Iranian people. There will be no compromise. We will stand for no less.
The poison that has destroyed lives for a generation of Iranians is spreading. The reigning people now are to be part of what is happening in Ukraine, oppressing those people? Are they going to be in league with the North Koreans? Or the Chinese? That is not the history of Iran. It is not who you are.
There are two kinds of Iranians: those who are part of this movement, and those will spend the rest of their lives denying that they weren’t part of this movement.