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Former UNAMI Chief Ad Melkert: Regime Change in Iran is Within Reach


Ad Melkert, the former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq until 2011, delivered an inspiring speech at the Free Iran World Summit on July 1, 2023. Acknowledging the perseverance and solidarity of the Iranian people, Melkert emphasized that change in Iran is inevitable and should happen sooner rather than later. He praised the courage of the Iranian men and women who have risen against the merciless regime and stood up for a secular and democratic republic. Despite fading media attention, the uprising continues, Melkert said, and he urged the international community to remain vigilant and support the Iranian people’s quest for justice and freedom. He highlighted the importance of the UN’s fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations and called for determined action to hold oppressors accountable.

The full-text speech of Mr. Ad Melkert follows:

Dear friends and colleagues, Madam Rajavi, it’s a privilege to accompany you since 2009, the horrific attacks at Ashraf at the time in Iraq, on your journey to victory. Today’s meeting serves more than ever as a testimony to perseverance and solidarity as the necessary ingredients to make a change in Iran inevitable. And there are strong reasons to add that this might and should happen rather sooner than later.

These reasons, adding to decades of resistance by countless brave citizens and by the tireless efforts of your movements, have been provided by the courageous women and men in Iran that have stood up in great numbers against a merciless regime after Mahsa Amini fell victim to the so-called morality police. It’s the opposite of morality. It is immorality that serves to back up the dictatorship which for more than four decades now continues to oppress the great Iranian people and especially its youth in their hopes and aspirations.

Although global media attention is tending to fade after initial interest and recognition, the uprising continues. This should keep the international community on alert that regime change is within reach the more the internal opposition and the external pressure will converge towards the common goal to enable all Iranians of all nationalities and ethnicities to finally establish a secular and democratic republic. It is this goal that unites us today. I commend the perseverance of your movement that has overcome the brutality that I witnessed during my term as special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq. Perseverance even when even your new home in Albania could not serve as a secure shelter.

All of this has not stopped you from calling on the world not to keep its eyes closed and instead to see the reality in the face. The reality of ongoing and severe human rights violations. A reality that not only jeopardizes the future of the Iranian people but also extends to the wider region and into Ukraine at the side of the Russian aggressor.

The UN Human Rights Council’s decision through Resolution S35-1 of 24 November last year to mandate an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations related to the protests that began in September last year marks an important step forward. The global community demands access to the facts on the ground and demands accountability. It’s an important step, yet a step that needs to be followed by more action in order to reach out to and fulfill the hopes of all Iranians who long for justice and freedom.

I look forward to next week’s briefing by the UN Independent Fact-Finding Commission and expect that this will bring about even more awareness and determined action to support those that risk everything in fighting for change. The UN’s mandate has been boosted to reveal the truth of what’s going on in Iran. Just in recent months, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, and the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Executions have expressed deep alarm on the ongoing executions in great numbers week after week.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on authorities to follow the lead of most other states and to abolish that penalty or halt all executions. These and other condemnations by the international community testify that the net closes around the oppressors, that our time is running out and change is within reach. To support and hopefully accelerate that change is our common vow today and our commitment in the time ahead for as long as it takes to let justice prevail for all Iranians that are craving respect for their fundamental rights, freedom to express themselves, and democracy to decide.