By: Alejo Vidal-Quadras - President of In Search of Justice, former European Parliament Vice-President
Dear Mrs. President, dear Senator, dear friends, thank you very much for the very nice introduction. First of all, I would like to thank you, Senator, for your unfailing support for the Iranian people and the democracy and freedom. You have always been known beyond parties and politics as a strong advocate for fairness against the mullahs ruling in Iran, and against Islamic fundamentalism. And let me congratulate for this wonderful speech you have just offered to us.
Now I understand why you won in 2006. Because I have been in politics many years, like you, and I know what it is to run for a political responsibility, out of the structure of the party. This is something that very few men can do in this world, and women of course. So, after listening to you today, I understand how you could to it. My warmest congratulations, and I must say also, I agree 100% on everything you said here to us today.
During my 15 years as vice-president of the European Parliament, I’ve been working very closely with the Iranian resistance. Probably, my political and professional interest would tell me to be more cautious sometimes, but my moral conscience and a long-term interest of Europe, has always told me to stay side-by-side with the Iranian democratic opposition.
When I started to collaborate with you, to work with you, it was not so easy to do so, because we must remember that in that time the PMOI or as they call it in America, the MEK, in that time they were on the blacklist in European Union, in the UK, and in the United States.
And I remember when Paulo Casaca, my good colleague at the European Parliament, I’m talking now of year 1999. Paulo was a Portuguese, a member of the European Parliament, he came to me and he asked me to meet a representative of the PMOI, and then I accepted, with a certain, let’s say concern, because of the circumstances of the list, and I accepted because I fully trusted Paulo, because in despite of being a socialist, he was… he is a wonderful person. So I met him, and when he was in my office I thought “God, here I am, sitting with a terrorist” for the first time in my life. And I was feeling a little bit uneasy, you know. But I listened to him, carefully, everything he explained to me, on the evidence and documents he brought to me, and then, after I verified everything he told me, I decided, and not only me, many other colleagues in the European Parliament, we decided to meet with Maryam Rajavi on this very hard journey until the final removal from all blacklists to pave the way to a free Iran.
As you know better than me, it has indeed been a very difficult, very long, very hard but very honorable battle. I never regretted even one second that decision that made me - and other colleagues of the Parliament – to be a part of this big family that is the Iranian resistance. I’m very proud of it, of being part of it.
You can imagine the many rumors and accusations we had to face and I confess that sometimes we even got somewhat confused. But every time we checked and we researched and we investigated each of these accusations and we quickly realized they were void of every substance or truth, they were just fabrications of the intelligence of the Iranian regime.
Parallel with this fight against the blacklist, we entered also a largest battle.
In 2008, in the very last month that Ashraf was still accessible, just before the United States handed over the security to Iraq, I led a delegation of members of the European Parliament, and also with us members of the Norwegian Parliament, and we travelled to Ashraf. We visited Ashraf. Despite high security risks and political challenges, we decided to go there to know on the ground the reality of Ashraf. And I am so happy that I didn’t miss that chance. Ashraf was for me a kind of revelation. In Ashraf I met another world. I told them, the residents in Ashraf, directly that they were a moral reference and an example for the whole world fighting for freedom. No one can meet these people and not fall in great admiration of their commitment and self-sacrifice. I told the residents in Ashraf that I will leave my heart with them. I remember they had a large dormitory, and I said “next time I come, I don’t want to go the guest room, I want to bed here in the dormitory, with you.” And I didn’t think they would take it seriously, but they did. And when I left, they put a bed with my name in the dormitory. I don’t remember in which section but what I remember is that all sections were commanded by women. That I remember. And I asked them, is there any important responsibility a man can have in this camp; they were laughing because the organization of the camp was absolutely impeccable. I keep a photograph of this bed framed, it was in my office in the European Parliament for 7 years, and now, I have it also.
After 25 years of political life, I think I am experienced enough, and I said it modestly of course, but I think I’m experienced enough to distinguish between good and evil, between truth and lies.
And in this context, let me say that I’ve met many members and supporters of the PMOI, from the newest and youngest to senior members in the leadership. And I am absolutely convinced that they are sincere, they are committed, they have the most extraordinary high morals I have ever seen in a political group and most importantly, and this is something I really… that really impresses me, they do not want anything for themselves.
We have to admit that what this happened at least from the 9/11 tragedy onwards was predicted by the Iranian resistance long time ago. And they had shown us the solution, in early 90s, when the term “Islamic fundamentalism” was not even familiar to many people. They declared – the PMOI – they declared the Islamic fundamentalism as the new global threat. And my distinguished friend Mohammad Mohaddessin, wrote a book under this title, more than 20 years ago; a book that I strongly recommend, really, because many of his insights are still valid today. But the western pollers and analysts were saying it was an exaggeration. Unfortunately, the biter reality of 9/11 proved that Mohammad Mohaddessin and the PMOI were right.
But again, the United States and Europe took a wrong path and instead of focusing on the heart of this evil phenomenon, which is the regime in Tehran, they deviated their attention onto other problems and objectives. Twelve years ago, Mrs. Rajavi warned that the threat of the mullahs interference in Iraq is many times more dangerous that their nuclear bomb. But there was no one to listen. We have opened, naively, Iraq’s gates to Iranian influence and control. Despite many warning by the PMOI, we closed our eyes on the invasion of Iraq by the Iranian regime. This broad regime, hundreds of kilometers closer to Israel, and the Mediterranean had increased its influence in Lebanon and in Syria. Had we got the regime’s hands in Iraq at the time, we wouldn’t have Daesh today, nor would we have Assad or Hezbollah in Syria.
Very recently, hundreds of thousands of Iranians have crossed the Iraqi borders in a large operation of invasion organized by the Quds Force and led by General Soleimani. In spite of all that, we see high representatives Federica Mogherini or Secretary John Kerry or many ministers of Western governments rush to Tehran to appear in photographs shaking hands and smiling to the Iranian authorities. In Spanish we have a saying that says in English “there is no worse blindness as that of those who do not want to see”. And this is what is happening. What Senator Lieberman said to us some minutes ago, was so clear, so convincing, so… it was so impossible to deny. But I’m sure if he has a conversation on this with President Obama or Secretary Kerry, a conversation that he can’t obviously have, I’m sure they would not listen. Because in Europe we have the same problem. Governments, Senator, do not listen. The PMOI has a large support in parliamentarians for instance. And also in local authorities as well. But governments do not listen. This is something we must change and perhaps you can guide us in how to make governments listen.
Today, we must put an end to this wrong policy. Anything that would bolster Iran terrorism, be it Shiites or Sunnis, anything that prolongs the life of Assad will reinforce Daesh.
Nobody has paid the price that the PMOI, a truly democratic movement, and President Rajavi have paid in fighting against Islamic fundamentalism. No one is so much familiar with the geography and history of the people of these regions, and with Sunnis and with Shiites Muslims. They have been fighting against religious dictatorship for 37 years. So, if we do not listen to their call today after all these tragedies, history will not forgive us.
Dear friends, dear senator.
You are Senator, our dear guest today. You have demonstrated that you have never been ready to sacrifice human rights, peace and truth for short-term interest. This is something that distinguishes you from many politicians in your country, and in Europe. It is therefore no coincidence that you are here today, with us, with the Iranian resistance, with Mrs. Rajavi, this is something that is an honor, a pride for all of us.
Dear senator, we are indeed very happy to have you with us today. Your presence, your support, is a great encouragement and a great hope. Our dream and our mission of bringing democracy and freedom to Iran is in urgent need of the wise advice and political action of leaders of your experience and moral stature. Be welcome among us and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.