On July 13, 2019, dignitaries from dozens of countries across the world attended the main event of the Free Iran 2019 international conference. The conference was part of the five-day Free Iran 2019 series of conferences at the main headquarters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in Ashraf 3, Albania. Several dignitaries, political and human rights activists delivered speeches, issuing remarks about the struggles of the Iranian people and their resistance movement for freedom in their country.
Following are key remarks by former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper at the Ashraf 3 conference.
Thank you very much, merci beaucoup. First of all, let me just say this, we are all overwhelmed by what you have built here. Ashraf 3, what a tremendous achievement. Congratulations.
Madame Rajavi, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, friends, I’m delighted to be back with you, the National Council of Resistance [NCRI], at Free Iran 2019. And I am delighted to be here because there are few causes in this world today more important at this moment than what you are pursuing: the right of the people of Iran to change their government and the right to do it through freedom and the power of the ballot box.
Friends, in the years since we last gathered, the ayatollah’s regime has openly increased its enrichment of uranium. It has stepped up its support for its terrorist allies and proxies in the Middle East and around the world. And it has taken the suppression of human rights to new levels. So, the need for change in Iran is greater than ever before and the need for the work of this organization [PMOI/MEK] on behalf of the Iranian people is greater than ever before.
The regime is now, friends, it is in the process of fomenting a new and significant regional crisis. Over the past several weeks, it has itself and through its proxies attacked oil tankers in the Sea of Oman, fired missiles at its neighbors, threatened global shipping, and shot down an American drone in international airspace. In other words, the regime is out to prove what you and others have long been saying, that it is the single most dangerous regime in the world today.
Now friends, how should we respond to that threat? There is only one way; to respond with a firmness that recognizes the regime’s nature, that recognizes without apology or equivocation its extremism, its brutality, and its hatred. Sadly, and dangerously, some in the world continue to seek to camouflage this and instead try to appease the regime. They claim to want to reach out to the regime’s moderates. Friends, are we really, do we really lack that kind of intelligence to believe anyone senior in a regime like this, senior in a regime of extremism and of brutality and of hatred could ever possibly be a moderate? It is ridiculous. The right policy, the only realistic policy is firmness and strength. Impose sanctions, boycott its oil, designate it and its institutions as terrorist organizations and do what my government did in Canada, close down the regime’s embassies around the world.
Friends, what really is the argument against responding in this way? Against responding with firmness and strength. It is claimed by the apologists for the ayatollah’s regime, it is because the world they say has a stark choice, appeasement or war. Now friends, you know and we know that is a false choice. Surrender to the regime’s religious fascism is not an avoidance of war. It is an acceptance of the war that the theocracy is already pursuing through its proxies and allies against its neighbors in the region. It is also an acceptance of its quest for nuclear weapons and an invitation for the regime to pursue the unspeakable greater war in the future. Weakness and appeasement will not avoid a military confrontation with this regime. Instead, they invite the regime to pursue even more aggressive confrontations in the future. The solution then is not weakness, it is strength. It is not to soften sanctions, it is to toughen them. It is not to accept its human rights atrocities, it is to condemn them. It is not to pursue appeasement, it is to push back and push back hard. Friends, the right response is not to surrender to the regime, it is to stand with the Iranian people and stand against this regime.
The religious fascism of the ayatollah’s regime will never be good for the world, it will never be good for the region, and it will never be good for the people of Iran. Its very existence means a confrontation with the world, with its neighbors, and with its own citizens. Those are the people we must stand with. And that means standing behind the ten-point plan that Madame [Maryam] Rajavi and the National Council [NCRI] have committed to. Democracy, pluralism, the rule of law, justice, human rights, peaceful coexistence, gender equality, private property and a market economy, the separation of religion and state, and a non-nuclear Iran. Those things, these things are the only way the confrontation and the danger disappear. Friends, that ten-point plan, your ten-point plan is the future. It is the future the world wants. It is the future that Iranians need. And it is the future you have long fought for.
So, I say again to you, my friends, do not give up hope, do not in any way relent in your struggle. Underneath the extremism and perversion of the ayatollah’s regime is a great country, a great culture, a great faith, a great civilization yearning to be free. And that is what the world, everyone in the world, wants in Iran. Today, I am joined here as I was last year by many Canadians. I am joined both by those who supported my government and those who opposed my government, but who are united behind your dreams of a new and better Iran. And these Canadians are just a small sample of the millions of people of goodwill and fortitude in Canada, and of the billions of similar people around the world who share your aspirations for a new Iran. An Iran governed not by the hatreds of the past or the regime’s nuclear apocalyptic vision of the future, but an Iran led forward by the needs of its people and rooted in the best of its culture and history. That new Iran is coming. And it will be an Iran that stands freely and proudly among the nations of the world. It will be an Iran that your efforts have inspired. So, keep up the fight. Hazer, Hazer, Hazer [We are ready].