Rama Yad former French Minter of Human Rights: I should like to speak of the human rights with regard to the repression that the Iranian people are suffering from and have suffered from for so many decades. And those days in December and January were, basically, their response to the international community’s compromises. And this response was clear and uncompromising. And I think these days of December and January will remain in people’s collective memory as the starting-point of the Iranian reawakening. And we in Europe, in France, must take it as a warning. And we must reposition ourselves on the right side of history, we must not miss the train of the history of democracy as we did that of the Arab Spring.
And if some have had doubts, I believe fundamentally that the events of the beginning of this year have been an absolutely salutary reminder of what the Iranian people want: democracy not dictatorship; freedom not tyranny; secularism not theocracy; equality not privilege. This is a great people that has woken up. We must hear its cry of hope. Iran is taking its place in the great march, the great procession of marches for freedom. And the regime’s response has been terrorism, arbitrary imprisonment and summary detention.
It was also notable how, on the international community’s part, it seemed to be taken aback by the calls to end the dictatorship that were spreading from the depths of the country. There was astonishment, there was stupefaction, as if people were afraid of having been mistaken on the true nature of the regime. Some started to say that this revolt had no leader; that this revolt won’t last; that this revolt is incomprehensible. We need to be sceptical.
Iranians have been made to speak, those who demonstrated in 2009, so that we cold hear them express their suspicion of this revolt. And then, progressively, propaganda has made the images of the uprising disappear, thinking that would make the uprising itself disappear. Others emphasised that this revolt wasn’t political, that it was a battle between conservative clans, as if democrats didn’t exist in Iran. Others dared to say that Iran just wanted to put itself in front of the Lebanon, and then, “Is this a revolt?” and being answered, “No, it’s a revolution.” This ostrich-like policy, at the height of the protests, says a great deal about the blindness of the international community, which absolutely didn’t want to see, didn’t want to know and didn’t want to be in the wrong, after having made a mistake on the nature of the Iranian regime. No, the nuclear deal hadn’t settled anything whatever; no, the opening-up was an illusion; no, Iranian intervention in the region hadn’t settled anything either; and no, Iranians weren’t content with their lot.
So now we must turn this breach into an opportunity. So the beginning of this year belongs to Iran and its women, allow me to emphasise it, wives, mothers, sisters who have headed the confrontation. They have taken risks to the point of self-sacrifice. So young, too young to be in prison, but they took the risk in the hope that we would hear them. So their heroism must not be in vain, I believe these protests, these demonstrators have awakened human consciences, have broken certain kinds of cowardice, have elevated the name of justice, have somehow magnified commitment, and it was an absolutely extraordinary act of faith that was expressed at that moment, and it’s a source of pride for the country of human rights which should be the first among its peers to be at the side of the Iranian people.
I believe fundamentally that as in other countries in the past, what has arisen in Iran won’t fall back, and we, we must keep watch and be lookouts with attention and solidarity. Propaganda must not make us blind or deaf and I don’t believe either that it will be sufficient to target the National Council of Resistance of Iran in the person of its President, Maryam Rajavi, will be sufficient as it would if the Resistance implied the presumption of guilt, will be sufficient to erase the power of this call for the democratic alternative. I believe that it was for freedom that the Iranians rose up, that it was for their fundamental rights that they protested, it was against mass executions, against discrimination, against torture, against arbitrariness and also for equality between men and women. And finally, it’s a demand for regime change, and that’s the reason why I’m convinced that nothing will be as it was before. We recall moments in history when first there were the beginnings of revolt, there were confrontations that were crushed, but it was only temporary and that’s why it’s important that on the European Union’s part we can catch the moving train, the train of democracy. Thank you.