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Former Moldovan PM Natalia Gavrilita: The Fight for A Democratic Iran Has Inspired People Internationally

Natalia Gavrilita at the Iranian Democratic Opposition NCRI's international conference on the one-year anniversary of the nationwide uprising; September 15, 2023
Natalia Gavrilita at the Iranian Democratic Opposition NCRI’s international conference on the one-year anniversary of the nationwide uprising; September 15, 2023

Former Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita delivered a speech on September 15 at an event held in Brussels to commemorate the first anniversary of Iran’s 2022 uprising. The event was organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Mrs. Gavrilita expressed her honor and privilege in standing alongside the Iranian people and global leaders, advocating for women’s leadership and fundamental values of freedom, democracy, rule of law, and human rights. She also stressed the need for a firm stance against totalitarian regimes, emphasizing that old approaches and appeasement are ineffective.

The former Prime Minister of Moldova drew attention to the power of women-led movements in inspiring hope and positive change globally, citing examples from Belarus and her own country, Moldova

The text of PM Natalia Gavrilita’s speech follows:

Thank you very much for the warm welcome. It is such an honor and a privilege to stand here first and foremost with the people of Iran and with so many prominent leaders from around the world in defense of women’s leadership and more broadly in defense of the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, rule of law and human rights.

Thank you very much Madam President Rajavi for the invitation and more importantly for your determined and sustained leadership that you have demonstrated over all these years. It’s been a year since the terrible murder of Mahsa Amini which sparked the latest uprising against the totalitarian regime which has oppressed the people of Iran for decades.

This was not the first or the only uprising and not even the most deadly even though we know that 700 people died and tens of thousands have been imprisoned just for holding a different view. But the leadership of women of Iran, their determination and brave stance not only in favor of women’s rights and equality between men and women but wider freedoms for all people to fight together for a free democratic Iran has inspired men, women, youth, and people internationally.

These protests in fact as we have seen continue to simmer and are very widespread. They transcend geographical lines, they transcend generational lines and they transcend social strata. The women’s uprising in Iran I think from outside is the first such big counter-revolution I would say or revolution led by women and what it shows us is that old approaches no longer work, half measures do not work, and short-term appeasement doesn’t work.

It is no longer effective to make deals with totalitarian regimes that want to keep their people in the past. The youth strives for democracy, not simply as a way or an instrument to oppose a totalitarian regime. They actually support it as an assumed choice and a path to a better future. They understand that democratic institutions are the best way to ensure peace, freedom, and prosperity for our people and a place where our children can live their lives to their full potential.

Many reports show us the dire state of the world with democracy being on the decline but if you look at women’s led movements it shows us a sign of hope not just in Iran but around the world and here I want to make reference to my own region. We have seen the resistance of women in Belarus led by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya who became the public face of political opposition in 2020 and these women continue to challenge the regime despite the imprisonment and exile of hundreds of their activists.

In my own country, Moldova, it was an inspirational female leader, now president, Maia Sandu who took on an oligarchic regime that captured state institutions and in 2020 brought about the democratic change that the people have been demanding for years.

This has proven crucial in the last several years. It is no coincidence that it was when Moldova was one of the few countries where both the president and the prime minister were women that we achieved the most progress on our path to freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

We have stood firmly with Ukraine against Russia’s brutal aggression and have provided support. At the highest point, we have received five times more refugees than UNHCR thought we were capable of as a country. We also provided humanitarian support to people in Ukraine, solidarity lanes for Ukrainian goods, and cooperation in a broad range of areas.

And if we look at the war in Ukraine, we can see how the totalitarian regimes work together to create instability in the region and around the world. So we see the cooperation through the use of drones between Russia and Iran, through the use of drones, joint evasion of economic sanctions, and the same methods actually that are employed against their own people.

I don’t understand how it is that we want to end the war in Ukraine and at the same time even consider the policy of appeasement. We saw what the appeasement of Russia after the occupation of Crimea meant five years down the line. So let’s think about this. You know, what will future generations face due to a policy of appeasement today? And how it should look? How can we ensure that the will of the people is expressed and the will of the people is for a free democratic and secular Iran?

I believe that the restructuring of the security architecture that we are seeing in the world today is fundamentally about democratic values worldwide. And we must rise to this occasion. Despite the crisis, it is important that we capitalize on these moments, on these historical moments, and think about the rules that we make for the functioning of society and the functioning of the world order.

And in doing so, we should always remember what previous speakers have referred to, what previous generations left for us, and what are we leaving to future generations. We must find solutions and we must find solutions for the people to live in freedom and to be able to fully realize their potential, no matter where they live. And given this, I say we all stand in solidarity, no matter where we hail from, and women, life, and freedom.

Thank you.