The annual ‘Free Iran’ conference of the Iranian opposition is underway today, July 13, 2019. The event is being held for the first time at ‘Ashraf 3’, the headquarters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (Mujahedin-e Khalq, MEK or PMOI) in Albania. Hundreds of lawmakers, officials and dignitaries from around the world have flocked to Albania to join the 2019 Free Iran conference. Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi is the event’s keynote speaker. We’ll be updating this page with the latest reports from the event.
13.30: International dignitaries are arriving at the gates of Ashraf 3, home of Iran’s democratic opposition, the MEK, in Albania. They are being greeted by cheers and applause from flag-waving MEK members. Ashraf 3 is located near the Albania capital Tirana, where MEK members were relocated to from Iraq back in 2016.
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Former PMOI (MEK) Sec-Gen Fahimeh Arvani welcomes international lawmakers & officials to the Iranian opposition’s annual conference at Ashraf 3 in Albania, says: “Today we are witnessing the regime in Iran on the brink of overthrow” gathering at Ashraf 3. I am going to declare: We will take back Iran and rebuild a new Iran. gathering at Ashraf 3 – July 13, 2019 gathering at Ashraf 3, July 13, 2019 ian civilization.
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) ian Resistance which is its main enemy,calling for regime change to replace the absolute clerical rule with people’s sovereignty & suffrage
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) rally at the MEK’s compound in Ashraf3 event at the MEK’s compound: It’s not only an honor but exciting to be here in Ashraf 3. We gathered in many meetings. In Paris & the crowd was enormous, but there’s nowhere I’d rather be today than in Ashraf 3 rally at the MEK’s headquarters in Ashraf 3, Albania event in standing up for a peaceful, non-nuclear future for Iran & freedom & democracy for its long suffering people. ”. after 40 years of crimes against humanity must be removed. A brave 36 year old gives us hope for the future. ” .” . We cannot appease such a bloodthirsty regime. We must investigate the Iran rgm’s human rights abuses… in its goals and stand with you.”
— John Baird (@Baird) July 13, 2019
“We know the Iranian regime too well. We know that you have to combat the regime’s lies and propaganda. In Canada we know that the appeasement of the mullahs is an absolute disgrace. We know that there isn’t such a thing as a moderate fascist,” he said.
“It is time to put an end to religious fascism, it is time for freedom, it is time for victory, it is time for the mullahs to go,” Mr. Baird concluded.
Yakin Ertürk, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (2003-2006)
19.30: Yakin Ertürk, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (2003-2006), says:
“Salam Ashraf. The testimonies we received from the Ashraf residents put our humanity to test. I felt rage and hope, seeing the survivors continue their struggle with determination. Human dignity will defeat evil,” said Yakin Ertürk, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (2003-2006).
“In 2005, I was in Evin Prison as a UN human rights rapporteur. The conditions in the prison were very pleasant as the authorities knew we were coming… We lived in a troubled region. We the people of the region have aspirations for rights and freedom… A misogyny is now observed strictly in Iran. Many rapporteurs have repeatedly written about violence against women in Iran. Yet we must also note the women’s resilience on the street, in social media and even in the privacy of their homes,” she added.
“The new generation of Iranian women who are the product of the revolution era are as bold as their predecessors… Those of who support freedom and justice in Iran must join forces to empower the Iranian people’s struggle. We also need to navigate the region’s political forces. Iranian people, men and women alike, are the force of change,” Ms. Ertürk added.
Former French Minister of Human Rights, Rama Yade
19.35: Former French Minister of Human Rights, Rama Yade, says:
There is a new city, Ashraf 3, built here in Albania by thousands of Iranians who survived the attacks of the Iranian and Iraqi governments. Thank you to the Albanians who made it possible for the Ashrafis to have somewhere to stay, after their great sacrifices. What you have achieved here, you can achieve in Iran in one day. I am emotional when I see the Iranian Resistance’s museum at Ashraf 3 and the MEK’s 120,000 martyrs. Iran is a nuclear threat and a religious threat, starting from the same nature of the Iranian Regime… the MEK members have paid the price of resistance with their lives. They are supportive of Islam but are against fundamentalism and they put women at the centre of their movement. 2018 was a dark year for human rights in Iran, and we should be concerned about that.
Judge Susana Medina
19.40: Judge Susana Medina, former head of the International Association of Women Judges, says:
“I come from Argentina, a victim of the Iranian regime’s terrorism… Maryam Rajavi’s ten-point plan is a plan of human rights. I hope to go with Maryam Rajavi to Iran where you will establish justice, gender equality, and freedom… Only on these terms can we have a free Iran,” said Judge Susana Medina from Argentina.
19.43: Bandanda Rana, Vice Chair – UN CEDAW Committee, says: “Such a joy, pride and honor to stand before the Iranian Resistance. I come from Nepal that is known for the Himalaya and the Budha. For the last three decades, I have worked for gender equality. I’ve started from my community in Nepal but my journey took me to the corridors of the United Nations,” said Bandana Randa, Vice Chair – UN CEDAW Committee.
“I recall 20 years ago, the moderator would ask one question and we had to answer within 10 seconds with one sentence. I said that I want every family rejoice the birth of a girl.
I think that the power and resilience of the women of the Iranain Resistance is an example for other women in the world,” she said.
“When I looked at Maryam Rajavi’s ten-point plan I saw so much similarity with what we are advocating for… There cannot be peace without women. When your movement is led by a woman, peace is guaranteed sooner than later,” Ms. Rana concluded.
Maria Candida Almeida
19.46: Maria Candida Almeida, Deputy Attorney General Of Portugal, says:
“I believe in your ideas and share your dreams of freedom and equality and liberation of your country,” said Maria Candida Almeida, Deputy Attorney General Of Portugal.
“I admire Madame Rajavi who has fought for these values in Iran. Martin Luther King had a dream and it came true. Ghandi had a dream to free his people and it came true. Nelson Mandela had a dream and it came true. Mrs. Rajavi your dream is noble and your dream will come true like the others. Thank you so much for your example,” she added.
Dr. Ranjana Kumar
19.50: Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director of Center for Social Research in India, says:
“Your resilience, your strength, and your hard work is evident to the whole word. Every stone speaks about your resolve,” said Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director of Center for Social Research.
“I bring greetings from the global women network for change. Mahatma Ghandi said: Tyrants can suppress people for some time but when people rise tyrants don’t know where to go,” she said.
“What more than the global leaders want to see than the ten-point plan of Maryam Rajavi… I know that today we are one step closer to Iran, Maryam, Freedom… May you all see the victory under the sky very soon and I’m sure with all the global leaders here it won’t be long. Hazer, Hazer, Hazer,” Dr. Kumari said.
Amb. Robert Joseph
19.55: Amb. Robert Joseph, former U.S. Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, says
“It is a great pleasure to be here today and be a small part for what I believe to be the cause of freedom in Iran and the whole world,” said Amb. Robert Joseph.
“The MEK’s Resistance Units in Iran represent the front line of a historic battle between the good and evil. I know that think tankers reject that description as overly simplistic and emotional. With regard to being emotional, I have to say that you have to be emotional when you see the atrocities of the Iranain regime. With regard to being simplistic, I have to say that it is absolutely necessary to know that evil exists in the world and if we don’t do so we are going to tolerate it,” he added.
“Your cause will prevail over evil. More important than the magnificent buildings and the material accomplishments of you here in Ashraf is the idea. The Iranain regime may kill you and torture you and imprison your mothers and fathers but the regime will not triumph over your spirit,” Amb. Joseph emphasized.
“That spirit is not grounded in hate but in love… After the lies of the regime is exposed the facts will remain. The second president of the U.S. John Adams once said that facts are stubborn,” he continued.
“Fact is that there is a path to a secular non nuclear and democratic Iran. Fact is that there is an alternative to the current regime in Iran. This is not in Syria or Libya. We have a government in exile that will establish democracy in Iran,” Amb. Joseph reiterated.
“It is a fact that the regime will fall, because of its terrorism, its corruption and most importantly the Iranain people’s desire for freedom… I’m truly proud to be in your company,” he concluded.
A U.S. military delegation
20.00: A U.S. military delegation is now on the stage. General George Casey, former commander of the Multi-National Forces-Iraq, is now addressing the Free Iran rally:
“It’s a pleasure and privilege to be with you here tonight and witness what you’ve accomplished here… U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said one year ago that Iran has to behave like a normal country… Over the past year Iran has increased its malign activities. Iran’s behavior is not normal. It’s terrorist behavior,” said Gen. George Casey (retired).
General George Casey
“It’s time! Change must come to Iran… I’m surprised when Iran continuously denies its efforts to sow instability. Many of us have first-hand experience how Iran uses terror and subversion to accomplish their political goals,” he added.
“I witnessed Iran train and equip Iraqi militias. I held Iran responsible for the death of hundreds of coalition forces,” Gen. Casey continued.
“The Iranain regime is a challenge not only for the Iranian people but also for the international community,” he explained.
“Ashrafis, what you have built here is a tribute to your courage, determination, and the 160 comerades who died during your journey here. You have cemented Ashraf 3 as the global center of the democratic alternative to the iranain regime,” Gen. Casey explained.
“Change will come to Iran due to what you have done,” he concluded.
Gen. James Conway
20.10: Gen. James Conway, former Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, says:
“In the U.S. military when we start a major undertaking, we try to set the conditions for success,” said Gen. James Conway, former Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.
“I ask all of you representatives of your countries to do more when you go back to your countries. I ask you to use your names and influence so that your governments respond swiftly to the Iranian regime’s atrocities,” he added.
The Jordanian delegation is now on the stage. Saleh al‐Qalab
20.24: The Jordanian delegation is now on the stage. Saleh al‐Qalab, former Minister of Culture and Publicity of Jordan, says:
“The mullahs will soon be overthrown under the leadership of Maryam Rajavi. Those who lead Iran today are not the leaders of the Iranian people. They are taking Iran a thousand years back in time,” said Saleh al‐Qalab, former Minister of Culture and Publicity of Jordan
“We stand by your side from around the world. You are in the heart of the Arab people, because the greatest risk in that area is the risk coming from the mullahs,” he concluded.
20.50: Sali Berisha, former Albanian Prime Minister and President, says:
“It is a great pleasure and honor to me to salute you. People fighting for many years, for human rights and democracy. People facing difficulty for many years but standing up. You inspire every human being with your fighting,” Sali Berisha, former Albanian Prime Minister and President.
“Two years ago I was in Paris in your meeting. At that time the great powers were negotiating with the Iranian regime and I thought how hard it would be for your fight against the Iranian regime. But a few years later you’ve been proven right. You are the hope of your nation,” he added.
“Albania must expel and will expel any official representative of the mullahs. You represent Iran,” Berisha continued.
“Maryam Rajavi’s ten-point plain is a plan inspired by your 100,000 martyrs. It’s a plan by universal values. I fully support that you will prevail. The mullahs have shown that they have no faith,” he said.
“Sooner or later the mullahs will face what they deserve. The caliphate of the mullahs will never prevail in the region,” the former Albanian prime minister concluded.
20.55: Ad Melkert, former UN special representative to Iraq, says:
“All of you are now here in safety in Albania. What a change compared to 10 years ago. In 2009, the oasis of Camp Ashraf was suddenly attacked. It also happened in 2011 and 2013. I’m proud that we started to open the eyes of the international community to what was happening in Ashraf,” said Ad Melkert, former UN special representative to Iraq.
“I remember meeting with diplomats in Baghdad and no one wanted to take responsibility until our Albanian friends came. I am sure the flags that are flying here today to welcome all of us from around the world will soon fly in Iran,” Mr. Melkert added.
Amb. Lincoln Bloomfield
21.00: Amb. Lincoln Bloomfield, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, says:
“The allegation of terrorism against the MEK has been completely debunked. We now know that no one from three generations of the resistance has ever been prosecuted for terrorism. Not one person,” said Amb. Lincoln Bloomfield.
“There is an obscuring curtain known as the allegation of the MEK being a cult. I have been here for three days. My friends and I have been able to talk with any MEK member we wanted to. These people are stronger than me and they are dedicated to keeping their choice of continuing to resistance,” he added.
“The allegation of cult is gone forever and is finished. This is what has been accomplished here,” Amb. Bloomfield concluded.
A delegation of representatives from Nordic countries
21.07: A delegation of representatives from Nordic countries is on the stage. Former Norwegian MP Lars Rise says:
“Ashraf 3 is a city that will write history. When I look at former prime minister Sali Berisha, his courage to start it when all the Western European countries said no because all of our countries were thinking about the nuclear deal. And all of this happened for the extraordinary leadership of Maryam Rajavi. She is already leading like the leader of a free Iran,” said former Norwegian MP Lars Rise.
“We have made great progress and now the situation has reversed where the MEK is off the terror list and the Iranian regime is blacklisted. The biggest money launderer in the world, the Iranian regime, is facing problems everywhere,” he added.
“All over the world, the Iranian regime is trying to impact journalists and politicians but this opposition will prevail. The truth will prevail,” Mr. Rise continued.
“We are ready, Maryam Rajavi is ready, and we are encouraged to hear this word today so many times: We are ready,” he concluded.
21.10: Finnish lawmaker Kimmo Sasi says:
“We know that the foundations of a welfare state are human rights, democracy, and economic freedom.”
“It’s very important when we want to have change that there is an alternative, and Madam Rajavi’s ten-point plan is the alternative,” he added.
“40 million Iranians live in poverty today. Corruption, money laundering and the financing of terrorism are the reasons. We need sanctions so that money is stopped and returned to Iran when the country is free,” Mr. Sasi continued. “We see demonstration in Iran that show frustration. Ashraf 3 shows that you have strong commitment for change.”
“We nordics support your cause for a free Iran,” he concluded.
21.16: Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former Vice President of the European Parliament, says:
“I have been attending these magnificent events for 15 years and this is the first time we celebrate our gathering in Ashraf. I say Ashraf because Ashraf one, two and three are the same uninterrupted beacon of resistance and freedom.”
“I wish Massoud Rajavi, the leader of the Iranian Resistance, well and salute him… I visited Ashraf 1 (Camp Ashraf in Iraq) as the head of a European parliamentary delegation years ago and I witnessed how the PMOI transformed a desert into a prosperous community. For men and women of that quality that transformed that desert, nothing is impossible, and you have achieved that quality here in Ashraf 3,” he continued.
“Dear Ashrafis, you are unbeatable. That’s why I’m convinced the Iranian regime will change sooner than later. We must all pay tribute to the people and officials of Albania for such humanitarian example,” Dr. Vidal Quadras added.
“There is a continuity line made of courage and resilience that connects Ashraf I, II, and III, but there won’t be an Ashraf 4 because it was already named thousands of years ago. Ashraf 4 has already a name and this name is Iran,” he said.
“Iran itself will be the final Ashraf. The whole country, our beloved and ever lasting Ashraf, when freedom, and respect for human rights and equality between men and women will be established in that country,” the former European Parliament Vice President continued.
“The alternative to the mullah’s nightmare is ready and it is Maryam Rajavi. She has created a team of which I’m proud to be a member. Nothing and nobody can stop the next Ashraf whose name is Iran,” he concluded.
21.25: Romanian MP Ben-Oni Ardelean says:
“My friends and I in Romania know what it is like to live under a brutal regime. 30 years ago, the people stood for their belief in freedom and democracy. In those days the brutal regime was gone,” said Romanian MP Ben-Oni Ardelean.
“This is our hope that very soon the brutal and criminal regime will fall. Faith, love and hope are everlasting. Your love for the people in Iran is motivating you and us to do what we do and fight against this terrorism and this criminal regime. Your hope brings you here year after year. We hope that one day very soon this regime will fall. We hope to do our best for our nation and every single human being that deserves freedom,” he added.
“I want to especially thank those representing different nations today. We should do what we can do to ensure this freedom comes for the Iranian people. I hope more nations come to this conclusion that we all have to do our best to provide full freedom for the Iranian people.”
“We congratulate and support Madam Rajavi. Freedom for the Iranian people,” Mr. Ben-Oni Ardelean concluded.
21.35: Irish Senator Gerry Horkan says:
“We are hungry for change. It’s an enormous honor for me to be here. It’s an enormous honor to be here with renowned politicians such as Rudy Giuliani, Joe Lieberman and Madam Maryam Rajavi,” said Irish Senator Gerry Horkan.
“Many of my colleagues from Ireland wanted to be here today. We are with you for freedom in Iran. We support the NCRI in everything you are trying to do… We know the regime is a threat to peace and stability. Tehran is causing havoc across the region. We must never forget that,” he added.
“Last week I was with the NCRI at the Berlin gathering. Nobody thought the Berlin Wall would fall when it did. I think the day is coming sooner than we think for the regime in Iran to fall and free and fair elections will be held in Iran,” Senator Horkan continued.
“I want to congratulate all of you for what you have done in Ashraf 3. Your museum, and exhibition, here shows the atrocities are still happening in Iran. We must get rid of that regime and do everything we can to bring an end to the vicious mullahs’ regime. We are here from so many parts of the world to support you and Madam Rajavi,” the Irish Senator concluded.