Gary Locke, The 21st Governor of Washington State, The 36th U.S. Secretary of Commerce, addressed the first day of the Free Iran World Summit on July 1, 2023.
Gary Locke: Iran Protests in 2022 Were Result of 40+ Years of Organized Resistance
The full text of US Secretary Gary Locke’s remarks is as follows:
Thank you very much. It’s a real honor to be here for my first Free Iran World Summit of 2023. Several months before his tragic death six decades ago, President John F. Kennedy said, quote, the wave of the future is not the conquest of a single dogmatic creed, but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free peoples.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, distinguished political leaders from all around the world, parliamentarians. I want to thank the National Council of Resistance of Iran for giving me the honor and the privilege of being part of your World Summit today, with people joining from around the world, including especially from within Iran. And to also give me the opportunity to express my support as you continue your unrelenting fight for a free and democratic Iran.
Thank you, Mrs. Rajavi, for your steadfast leadership and dedication to a democratic and free Iran, but also for putting forth a Ten-Point Plan for a democratic nation. It’s a plan that has been endorsed by more than a majority of the members of our new Congress, some 238 members have signed in support. It’s a testament to the power and the righteousness of your cause.
The people of the United States of America stand in full solidarity with the people of Iran and fully support their desire to be free people. As evidenced by the political leaders from around the world here today, people all over the world stand with the people of Iran.
Because you are waging a heroic uprising against a corrupt and brutal terrorist regime. High unemployment, runaway inflation, widespread poverty, stagnant production, growing bankruptcies, water and electricity shortages, and growing starvation, the people of Iran are suffering under this current regime. And with the protests, social and political unrest, and major national uprisings of recent years, and now the nationwide protests since the fall of 2022, it is clear that the Iranian people want fundamental political change that will transform the current system of despotic religious fascism to secular democratic rule that places the needs and the dreams and the aspirations of the people above repression at home and terrorism abroad.
Democracies must stand with the Iranian people and must support the opposition and resistance groups that have played a crucial role in countering the regime’s repressive actions and in giving hope to millions of people in Iran who yearn for freedom.
Gatherings like this show the world that the evil regime does not speak for the people. That Iranians are committed to the ideals of democracy like free speech, public assembly, and fair elections. Human rights are universal rights sought by every people and nation on earth.
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. And according to the laws of the country, the life of a woman literally is regarded as half as valuable as that of a man. The combined effect is that women and girls in Iran, half the Iranian population, are vulnerable to violence, harassment, permeating every aspect of their lives.
Last year on September 13, Mahsa Amini, an aspiring 22-year-old lawyer, was arrested by the morality police for supposedly wearing her hijab in a way that exposed some of her hair. Three days later, she was dead after being beaten by the police.
After decades of a regime that relentlessly harassed, demeaned, and subjugated women along with squashing all notions of human rights, Amini’s death was the final straw in exposing the cruelty and disregard of the regime. In the protests that have spread to all 31 provinces, 280 cities, and over 100 large universities, many women have removed their hijabs and cut their hair.
Doctors and nurses reported that security forces were purposely shooting at and targeting women. The UN and other human rights groups say that 14,000 to 18,000 people have been arrested, 300 to 400 people killed, including more than 60 children, and of course the MEK has released the names of almost 700 protesters killed.
At least seven protesters have been executed and many more have been identified as facing imminent execution. The protests that started after 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 the strikes and protests. And 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 various religious groups, all want a free republic based on the separation of religion and state.
As this summit demonstrates, political leaders from around the world stand in solidarity with the people of Iran. 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 under both the current regime and the dictatorship of the Shah.
That’s why Iran’s ethnic minorities, Arabs, Kurds, the Azeris, the Baluchis, are opposed to the regime. Tehran must be treated like the pariah state that it is. International bodies from the UN to the World Court must hold regime leaders accountable for decades of crimes against humanity. The 1988 massacre of roughly 30,000 political prisoners, the vast majority of whom were members of the opposition movement, the MEK.
Those killed in the brutal crackdown of protesters following the 2019 sham election of Ebrahim Raisi [sic], the killings during the current protest, and the suppression of minority groups.
The protests that started in September 2022 are not a sudden overnight phenomenon, but another visible manifestation of the result of 40 years plus of organized Resistance. 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.
And in the quiet defiance of shopkeepers who give unveiled women discounts. The revolution that you all 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 of you in the audience have suffered as political prisoners or lost family members at the hands of the current regime, including during the 1988 massacre. And many relatives of those murdered by the regime are now part of the brave MEK Resistance [Units]. And some of you in the audience or your relatives have been tortured or have been victims of the crimes of the Shah’s secret police, the SAVAK.
Iran will never return to its pre-September 2022 days, and it will not return to the dictatorial rule of the Shah’s monarchy. America has a proud tradition of supporting the rights of aggrieved people around the world. And just a few months ago, President Biden said, quote, for decades, Iran’s regime has denied fundamental freedoms to its people and suppress the aspirations of successive generations through intimidation, coercion, and violence. The United States stands with Iranian people and women and citizens who are inspiring the world with their bravery.
Your cause is just and noble. May the flame from the lamp of liberty that you hold with such courage and conviction keep you warm and give you strength. May there soon be a free, democratic Iran. Thank you.