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Speech by Former White House Official Linda Chavez at Paris Conference on International Women’s Day

A significant conference took place in Paris to honor International Women’s Day. Linda Chavez, Chair of the Center for Equal Opportunity and former Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, delivered a powerful plea for a shift in governance in Iran, emphasizing the urgent need for decisive measures to combat entrenched oppression and discrimination, particularly targeting women.
Former White House Official Linda Chavez

A significant conference took place in Paris to honor International Women’s Day. Linda Chavez, Chair of the Center for Equal Opportunity and former Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, delivered a powerful plea for a shift in governance in Iran, emphasizing the urgent need for decisive measures to combat entrenched oppression and discrimination, particularly targeting women.

During her speech, Chavez praised the leadership of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), while highlighting the grave challenges faced by women in Iran, where widespread discrimination jeopardizes their very survival.

Dismissing claims propagated by Tehran’s allies, Chavez rejected the notion that Iran is resistant to regime change, pointing to the organized resistance embodied by the NCRI and the People’s Mojahedin Organization (PMOI/MEK). She questioned the regime’s narrative against the Iranian Resistance, asking why Tehran devotes substantial resources to suppress the movement if it poses no genuine threat.

The full text of Mrs. Linda Chavez’s speech follows:

Hello, and thank you very much again for inviting me. It is always a great pleasure to be part of this movement, to be part of this community because that’s what it is.

And you know, I know we’re here to celebrate the national month that celebrates women, the month of March, and it’s a pleasure to be with so many high-profile women. You know, I may be one of the oldest people here, and as such, it is amazing to me to look around this room, to look up on this dais.

In my own country, it was rare. It was rare for a woman to be elected as a member of Congress. We have here on this stage women who have been former heads of state in important countries, women who have served as ministers in important countries, women who have run for president, as my friend Ingrid Bettencourt did, and I think it sort of illustrates what we used to say early in the women’s movement, you’ve come a long way, baby. We have come a long way.

And we are also in the presence of one of the most dynamic, inspiring, charismatic leaders, I think, in the world, and that is Madam Maryam Rajavi. I was so inspired by your words, and talking about the plight of women in Iran because, in Iran, it is not just the case that women’s everyday lives are affected by their sex. It is not just that they have to cover their hair, that they cannot go out in public unless they are accompanied by men, that they cannot have the same rights in the court, but that their very lives are at risk.

And I think, Madam Rajavi, when you talk about the women of Iran who have literally given their lives for freedom, and we’re not talking about dozens of women. We’re not talking about hundreds of women. We are not even talking about thousands of women. We are talking about tens of thousands of women who have been executed by this regime.

Now, we in the West have a very low attention span. We don’t always focus. There are so many problems in the world. There are so many places right now that are experiencing death and destruction that it’s hard to keep our attention focused.

And Iran doesn’t get a whole lot of attention in the West. In 2022, when Masha Amini faced a terrible death, basically being beaten and made unconscious because she did not have her hair covered to the satisfaction of the vice police in Iran, there was attention focused.

And we had protests, not just in Iran. We certainly had many protests in Iran about it. But there were protests around the world in solidarity. And I think some people said, well, what we really have to be concerned about is the plight of women in Iran.

And if only we could get Iran’s leaders to accept the idea that women can choose or not choose to wear the hijab, and that women can be full citizens of that society. And certainly with all of these women taking to the streets of Tehran and many cities throughout Iran, we will see some change in this regime.

Certainly, we will see them move towards liberalization. Well, two years later, there has not been any liberalization under the mullahs in Iran. We have seen the leader, Supreme Leader Khomeini come and go. We have seen Khamenei come and remain. We have seen president after president in so-called sham elections come.

And the West has always said, well, you know, we’re going to see some change there. We’re going to see some modification, some liberalism that will come to Iran as the result of some of these protests and other things that are taking place.

That will not happen. And I think the people in this room understand that intimately. There will not be change in Iran without regime change. And this affects not just the women of Iran, not even the women and men of Iran. It affects the entire world.

We heard from our friend Michelle Aliomari earlier about the nuclear threat and what would happen if Iran were to get a nuclear bomb. And oh, by the way, they get closer every day.

They move closer and closer to having a bomb every day. We heard from the former prime minister of Finland about the role of what happens with Putin and the threat that he is in the world. And that is certainly true. But Putin would not be able to execute the war in Ukraine were it not for the help of his friends in Tehran.

They are providing the drones. They are helping execute women, children, and men. We heard also about everything that is happening in the world which is really the focus of what we have to be concerned about from Iran. So what is the solution?

If we’re not going to see some magical new president elected in Iran that is suddenly going to bring a modicum of freedom, a modicum of liberality to that country, and we do have to have regime change, how is that going to come about?

Again, if you listen to so-called experts, they’ll tell you, well, you know, Iran is not really ready for regime change. Maybe the people don’t want it bad enough. There really isn’t an organized force that can bring about regime change. Well, apparently they have never been to an NCRI meeting or seen the members of the PMOI because they are ready on a second’s notice to be able to execute that kind of regime change.

Again, I was fascinated in listening to my friend Ingrid Bettencourt talk about all of the flack that she got after she first appeared at one of these conferences or at one of the gatherings in June of the NCRI.

I too have gotten those kinds of people coming to tell me, oh, you know, you really have to be very careful. These people are a little sketchy. Maybe you need to avoid them. You really ought to do some research and look into it more carefully.

And oh, by the way, they have no support in Iran whatsoever. I’m constantly being told that. There’s no support for the PMOI in Iran. And I always find that very strange because, you know, when I come to the conferences, often there are satellite views of people in the streets of cities in Iran.

There are hundreds, thousands of people. And the movement has over the last year begun to attract more people. But I also think that it’s important to understand that if this movement were not a threat to the mullahs in Tehran, then why is it they spend so much money and effort and even violence to try to stop that movement?

Those of us who were in Paris at the conference in 2018 remember well when we learned that but for the act of intelligence being able to stop bombers who were literally on their way to Paris to be able to set off a terrorist explosion at our gathering, many of us would not be here today.

If it were not a threat to the regime, why would they take that risk? Why would they have people outside this very venue who showed up this morning, who were here to watch, who was coming and going? Why would there be assassination attempts on those who have been part of these conferences?

John Bolton has twice faced assassination in the United States of America by the Iranians. We have seen just this last year the tragic shooting of Mr. Vidal Cuadras, who is a good friend of this movement. So I say to you, thank you for being here.

Thank you for showing your support. But it is even more important than showing your support that you go out into your communities and insist that Madam Rajavi become invited to Congress to speak, not just by satellite, but in person. That she comes to the capitals of Europe, that she be invited all over the world so that she can bring her message.

Because her message is a message of freedom. Her Ten-Point Plan for the people of Iran would, in fact, give that very separation of church and state that we heard about from the former head of government in Ecuador.

These are the kinds of things we have heard about for years. The plan to separate church and state, the plan to give women and men equal rights. But most importantly, to give the people of Iran the chance to choose their own leader. And if Madam Rajavi was put up on the ballot in Iran, I have no doubt that we would be calling you President Maryam Rajavi. Thank you very much.

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