Tuesday, June 23, 2009


The National Press Club, Washington D.C, Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you all for coming. Thank you for your time, and attention to the cry for freedom and democracy on the streets of Iran. I can tell you, first hand, how much my compatriots are appreciative of your generous attention to their plight. The best I can do for you today is to recount what my fellow Iranians tell me about their conditions, hopes and fears.

Bear in mind that for the great majority of Iranians born after the Islamic Revolution, the unfolding events are the most significant transforming experiences of their collective memory. The courage of their convictions gives hope for peace and democracy in the most troubling region of the world. On the other hand, their defeat will encourage extremism from the shores of the Levant, to the energy jugular of the world. At the very least it will threaten regional tranquility and global economic recovery through fears of terrorism, slowdown of globalization and steeply higher energy prices. At worst, fanatical tyrants - who know that the future is against them - may end their present course on their terms: a nuclear holocaust.

But which will it be? That is the question of the day. My message to you is: do not underestimate the role you play in the outcome. International media are already the information artery connecting different parts of the freedom movement in Iran. That is why the regime has ominously warned media, that only officially approved reports can be dispatched out of the country. Having restricted the return path of media, they are also jamming electronic transmission and restricting internet traffic into the country. But it is the third leg of communication, from people to people, from one resistance cell to another, and from leaders to supporters inside Iran, of which the regime is most fearful. They cannot fight people who stand together. Only an information blackout can isolate individuals, so that they can be oppressed separately. Thus the outcome of this struggle will depend on your ability, the free media, to fight their blackout with the light of information.

Your second contribution is keeping your political leaders informed about the brutal violence of the regime's plain-clothes thugs against unarmed people. Your governments have insisted that they would not interfere in Iran's internal affairs. I applaud that. Any such attempt will give the tyrants the excuse they need to paper over their own differences, and target every man struggling for freedom as a foreign agent. But that is not all they do. They are painting every statement in defense of human rights as foreign interference, benefiting from the confusion between the two. It is vital that the free world not fall for such cruel cynicism in the name of realpolitik.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights knows no national boundaries. Its defense is not only a matter of ethics, but a mutual obligation of all governments who are its signatories. It is also in their interest. No one will benefit from closing his or her eyes to knives and cables cutting into faces and mouths of our young and old, or from bullets piercing our beloved "Neda" whose only sin was the quest freedom - no one, no one but tyrants and their thugs. Do not let them define what is disrespect for sovereignty, what is interference in others' affairs.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A movement was born on the 22nd of Khordad in my calendar, the 12th of June in yours. It is not Islamic or anti-Islamic, it is not for capitalism or socialism, nor any other ideology or specific form of government. It cares little about historical squabbles before its birth. It is about the sanctity, even more, the sovereignty of the ballot box. It may not succeed immediately. It may have ebbs and flows. But, let me assure you it will not die, because we will not let it die.

A week later, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic decided to stand erect as a dam in front of this movement, sanctioning theft of the ballot box and flagrant fraud, all in the name of Islam. It was an ugly moment of disrespect for both God and man. It will not stand. The citizens of Iran will not stand it. And at the end, he will not stand.

Rest assured, the Movement of 22nd of Khordad, already invested with the blood of my brave countrymen, with energy and support in every corner of Iran and the globe will not rest until it achieves unfettered democracy and human rights in Iran.

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