Washington, DC; April 5, 2018 – Over 1,000 delegates representing Iranian-American communities in 40 states attended the 2018 Iran Freedom Convention for Democracy and Human Rights on Saturday, May 5, 2018, at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC.
The participants voiced support for the Iranian people who rose up in protest beginning on December 2017. By January 2018 the uprising had spread to 142 cities across Iran. These protests are continuing today, with tens of thousands of people venting their anger at the regime in chants of “death to the dictator.” Steel workers in oil rich city of Ahvaz, workers at the Haft-Tapeh Sugar Cane Factory in Shush (southwest Iran), farmers in Isfahan, defrauded investors in Tehran, people in the city of Rasht (in the country’s bread basket) and Mashhad (northeast Iran), as well as ordinary Iranians in other cities nationwide are voicing their grievances against the clerical regime.
The Organization of Iranian American Communities-US (OIAC), and its affiliate in 40 states have for years commenced conventions (including the 2005, 2006 & 2013 National Conventions for a Democratic, Secular Republic Iran) and organized social/political events across the U.S. to help inform U.S. Iran-policy decisions.
The Iranian people, like our community members, deeply covet democratic values. Struggling for and embracing democracy is hence natural to the people of Iran and is rightfully viewed as an indelible right. Four decades of struggle against religious tyranny, including the nationwide protests that erupted in Iran last December, testify to this ongoing thirst for secular and representative democracy.
The 2018 Iran Freedom Convention featured renowned Iranian-American scholars, academics, and businessmen as well as Iranian-American youth who support a free and democratic Iran, consistent with the 10-point plan of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Members of Congress from both parties sent solidarity messages and strongly supported our convention. Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Governor Bill Richardson also addressed the Convention. The event featured live music and other activities planned to celebrate the achievements and aspirations of our community and the Iranian people.
The 2nd and 3rd generation of Iranian-Americans carrying the flags of their respective states.
SAEED SHAMS (MC): My name is Saeed Shams, joining you from New Mexico. I’m delighted to be joined by my two colleagues, Dr. Azadeh Sami, a (physician) from Virginia, and Dr. Zohreh Talebi, director of autism research from Kansas. We will moderate our convention. Please remember to tweet and post messages on social media with #2018IranFreedomConvention. And in solidarity with Iranian people, please post with #IranProtests and #FreeIran. This convention is made possible by the participation and volunteer work by Iranian-American delegates from nearly 40 states, and their state flags as represented here on the stage. Our convention today represents first, second, and third generations of Iranian-Americans from across the United States. Allow me to also welcome our distinguished guests, keynote speakers, who have joined us today. Amongst us are two generations of scholars, professionals who have joined us from places like Hawaii, the Aloha State, and the Golden State, California, all the way to the East Coast, including our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. We thank you and we welcome you all.
AZADEH SAMI (MC): Ladies and gentlemen, Iranian-Americans are statistically the most highly educated immigrant group in the United States. The percentage of Iranians who hold graduate degrees is three times the national average. But what we are the most proud of is that we stand with the people in Iran as they fight for freedom. Our 2018 convention is timely because of the uprising that has continued since December of last year. The Iranian regime is much weaker and far more vulnerable than ever. The time has come for a policy that serves the interests of the Iranian people and not their oppressors. Our convention sends a loud and clear message that in confronting the Iranian regime neither war nor appeasement works. The only viable option is regime change by the Iranian people and their organized resistance movement. Therefore our message to the people of Iran is that we stand with them. We stand with them. We stand with the brave combatants of freedom inside Iran and we still echo their voice here in this convention today. We echo the chants in cities across our beloved Iran that “Reformers, hardliners, the game is now over.” Thank you. Yes, we say, we say it is time to recognize the Iranian people’s right to overthrow the repressive regime and establish democracy in Iran.
ZOHREH TALEBI (MC): Young Iranians, entrepreneurs, scholars, artists, and athletic champions have joined us today to say in one voice that Iranians support a free, democratic, secular, nonnuclear republic in Iran. That is why we declare our full solidarity with uprising and protests by the youth, women, labor movements, teachers’ unions, and people from all walks of life in Iran. Today we will have the remarks by featured Iranian-Americans, musical performers, and keynote video message as well as keynote address by our distinguished guests.
So, without further ado, we begin with a video clip depicting a century-long struggle for freedom in Iran.
MC: Ladies and gentlemen, Please welcome Dr. Firouz Daneshgari, the third chair of the Department of Urology at The Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Daneshgari completed his surgical training at the University of Chicago and has served as chairman and director of the Center for Research and Innovation at the Cleveland Clinic.
Dr. Firouz Daneshgari’s Remarks (Excerpts):
Good afternoon. Ladies and gentlemen, friends and colleagues, distinguished guests, Mr. Giuliani, welcome to our gathering. My name is Firouz Daneshgari. I am coming from Ohio, arrived last night, with my family, (Kristin, Zal, Venus, Armand and (Mohare). I’d like to share with you my excitement for the future.
I was born in Tehran, in Iran, to an Azari Family. You can hear my accent. [applause] I entered Tehran University Medical School and learned about the Mojahedin-e Khalq, People’s Mojahedin, MEK, during the 1979 Revolution. Because any affiliation or sympathy to the MEK was considered a crime in that regime, in mullahs’ regime, I was arrested, jailed, and tortured, and still suffer from complications to this day.
After escape, I moved to the U.S. where I completed my training in four major universities and became a very successful surgeon-scientist. I have directed and chaired departments, center in major academic medical centers, operated on thousands of patients, received millions of dollars in research funds from the National Institute of Health, published hundreds of scientific articles and book chapters, trained hundreds of medical students, fellows, and others from all over the world, and am honored to have been recognized among American and international medical professionals.
But I have come here today to tell you that the most significant part of my life, as my family will attest to this, what I am the proudest of, what I want to be always remembered with, has been my relationship with the Iranian resistance and its leadership, my heroes, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. Why? Because that relationship embodies the hope and possibilities for Iran, like nothing else does.
My assessment is not emotional, it’s based on nearly 40 years of personal experience. I have lived with the MEK, I have eaten with them plenty of foods, delicious foods, prayed with them. I have treated their sick and injured and given them money. I have walked with them in knee-deep mud, driven in endless deserts, as I saw them build something out of nothing. In two different countries, they built infrastructure, facilities, cities. And I can testify, first hand, that they are the sincerest, most dedicated, the most humble human beings one can find on this earth. They are committed to their words and sacrifice their lives for their goals and commitments.
So, as the hour and day of toppling the mullahs’ regime draws near, to me, as a physician and as a scientist, the formula for future is very simple and straightforward. It is based on a powerful concept outlined in Mrs. Rajavi’s 10-point Plan. It relies on a leadership who has proven its qualifications in various scenarios over half a century. Regardless of the challenge – jail, torture, siege and missile attacks; whether in a desert or a foreign land, this leadership creates, renews and generates hope, builds an army of youth, and builds cities and universities, clinics and hospitals, gardens and waterfalls. It follows the rule of law and science and is unequivocally committed to delivering results. Because that leadership believes in investing in human beings and empowering everyone to do his or her best.
Applying this simple formula to the future, I clearly see how the abundant resources of Iran will be used to build and improve cities. In universities, we will train the best students, nurses, physicians, surgeons, and technicians that the world could offer. We will build hospitals, clinics, biomedical companies within a free market where opportunity is provided to everyone and millions of jobs will be created. We will create real emergency response teams, so an earthquake won’t destroy a region and kill thousands.
So, my brothers and sisters, my students and colleagues in universities and hospitals across Iran and around the world, as the victory of our people over the mullahs’ regime is nearing, I come before you as a representative of tens of thousands of professionals around the globe who are anxiously ready to devote what we have learned and gained to Iran. Hear me LOUD, her me loud: I offer my life to that future, where together we will build the most beautiful society with opportunities and a future for everyone regardless of religion, sex, or political beliefs. [applause]
MC: Please welcome Soolmaz Abooali, 11-times US National Traditional Karate Champion and International Medalist. Ms. Abooali is a PhD candidate from School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University where she is focusing on issue of women in sports and use of sports in conflict resolution.
Mrs. Solmaz Aboali’s Remarks (Excerpts):
Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure to be with everyone today, our speakers and as well as the audience members. In the late ‘80s, my parents and I fled Iran, our native country and the only home we had ever known. The decision to leave behind our family, our friends, and society was not an easy one…
Although I am incredibly proud to be an athlete that represents the United States globally, I am also that little girl who has not forgotten that she was forced to leave those whom she loves and my native home, Iran. [applause] Because I am a sort of half-breed – both an Iranian and an American, I often ask myself: what does it mean to be Iranian? It means this: to share a rich civilization and culture that spans back to 550 B.C. To share an ancestry of world-renowned poets such as Hafez, Rumi, Khayyam, Ferdowsi, Saadi, whose poem is a motto on the entrance of the United Nations building. To share a powerful record of advances in medicine, science, and engineering, such as those made by Avicenna and Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to be awarded the Fields Medal in mathematics. To share a talented roster of athletes such as legendary wrestlers Takhti, Filabi, and Ghorbani. And finally, to be an Iranian means to fight for our rights, such as the courageous young girls who are at the forefront of the protests in Iran and the young boys who sacrifice by risking their lives to gain freedom for this very proud nation. This history and these individuals are you. You represent the richness of where we came from and where we go from this point on.
I have also noticed that Iranians share a history of hardships. These include: being punished for how we desire to dress. Being persecuted and publicly hung for our religious and political beliefs. Being discriminated against based on gender and orientation. And one of my favorites – not being allowed to enter a sports stadium. These violations represent what needs to change. As a refugee and as someone who studies conflict, I understand what it takes to create positive change in a society.
One person who has been steadfast in her journey to bring such a positive change to Iran is Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. [applause] She – a female leader – has repeatedly proven the ability to sacrifice, to go after what is right, to inspire, to lead despite all odds. For this reason, I chose to gift my gold medals to her – from one fighter to another. [applause] And so this is what it means to be an Iranian: to be a fighter for freedom, equality, and for justice.
I’d like to leave you with a poem by Rev. Dr. Lynn Ungar, whose words I believe exemplify the power of togetherness. It goes something like this:
Breathe, said the wind.
How can I breathe at a time like this, when the air is full of the smoke of burning tires, of burning lives?
Just breathe, the wind insisted.
It’s easy for you to say, if the weight of injustice is not wrapped around your throat, cutting off all air.
Just breathe, the wind said.
I need you to breathe.
I need you to breathe.
Don’t tell me to be calm when there are so many reasons to be angry, so much cause for despair!
I didn’t say to be calm, said the wind,
I said to breathe.
We’re going to need a lot of air
to make this hurricane together.
MC: Ladies and gentlemen, convention’s first musical performance is by Christine Kharazian, a concert violinist, a graduate of the Komitas State Conservatory and the Tchaikovsky Advanced School of Music in Yerevan. As a soloist, she has performed in concerts at the Kennedy Center, Strathmore Hall, Dumbarton House, and the Gallery at The Ellipse. Christine teaches at Fillmore Arts Center in Washington, DC and is Washington Performing Arts teaching artist for the Capitol Strings program.
MC: Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Mr. Amir Emadi, President and CEO of the Skylift Global. Mr. Emadi has been recognized by the OAIC board and governing body as one of the 2nd generation rising technology leaders. He will be joined with fellow professional and students to share their views and dreams of the young Iranian-Americans for a future Iran.
MC: Ladies and gentlemen, this Convention is proud to stand with the uprising in Iran and to echo the voice of Iranian people. It is with great pleasure to announce that we have a chance to hear from Iran directly, those brave combatants of freedom, who have been involved in the uprising. Here they are from Tehran to other cities across the nation.[Video clip with messages from Iran for the convention]
MC: Ladies and Gentlemen! we are very honored to have a video message by the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi.
Message by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi,
President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
To the 2018 Iran Freedom Convention
From afar, but with you in my heart, I salute you – all of you who have come to Washington from different states across America – on your magnificent convention. You demonstrate to the world the Iranian people’s resolve to establish a free, democratic, and non-nuclear Iran.
At a time when a widespread, far-reaching protest movement, led by Iran’s valiant women, youth, and rebel units, has hemmed in the ruling theocracy, I would like to take this opportunity to say a few things about the correct policy on Iran.
- The Iranian people, who have taken part in hundreds of protests and uprisings since December, seek the overthrow of the clerical regime it is entirety. They are calling on the international community, in particular the West, to support their uprising for the overthrow of the Iranian regime.
- We emphatically urge the world community not to remain silent vis-à-vis the persistent crimes perpetrated by a regime which holds the world record for per capita executions. We call on them, by adopting punitive measures, to compel the mullahs to release those arrested in the recent uprisings and protests, including hundreds of our Arab compatriots in Khuzestan Province and a large number of Kurds in western Iran, and to end the barbaric persecution of farmers in Isfahan.
- Today, the leaders of the western world have pinpointed the fundamental flaws and ineffectiveness of the Iran nuclear deal. This vindicates the position taken by the Iranian Resistance. Hours after the signing of the JCPOA on July 14, 2015, I declared on behalf of the Iranian Resistance, that the deal had provided “unwarranted concessions to the mullahs’ regime.” I also emphasized “evicting the regime from the Middle East and preventing its regional meddling… is a fundamental principle that needs to be included in any agreement.”
Regarding the billions provided to the regime in the framework of this deal, I said that the money poured into the regime’s coffers must be placed under strict United Nations monitoring to ensure that it addresses the Iranian people’s urgent needs, especially the unpaid, meager salaries of workers, teachers, and nurses, and is used to provide food and medicine to citizens. Otherwise, Khamenei will use these funds to further the regime’s policy of export of terrorism and fundamentalism in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.” And I also underscored the reality that “Any agreement that disregards and fails to underscore the Iranian people’s human rights will only embolden the regime in its suppression, relentless executions, and abuse of the rights of the Iranian people.”
- The experience of the past three years has confirmed that the mullahs took advantage of the concessions in the JCPOA to suppress the people of Iran and massacre the people of Syria. As such, we emphatically demand that western countries adopt a policy that would eliminate the entire infrastructure of the regime’s nuclear program and, through unconditional inspections, prevent, once and for all, the regime from engaging in any nuclear-related activity, testing or research, including enrichment.
- Dismantling the regime’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, expelling the Revolutionary Guard from other countries in the region, and compelling the regime to stop torture and execution should be addressed in a wholistic approach. Western countries must not ignore any of these aspects.
- We emphasize the need to cut off access by the regime, especially the Revolutionary Guards, to the international banking system.
- Recognizing the National Council of Resistance of Iran as the democratic alternative to the clerical regime is a necessary step to compensate for the appeasement policy pursued in recent decades that prolonged the rule of the mullahs.
Supporters of the Resistance, dear friends,
At no time has the regime been so engulfed in crisis, and at no time has the time been so ripe to organize and expand the uprising. It is time for you to use every opportunity and every possibility to support the Iranian people’s uprising to overthrow the regime.
Rise up in response to this urgent duty, by informing the Iranian exile community, by neutralizing the lobby and proponents of the religious dictatorship, and by stepping up your activities to convey the cries of the Iranian people to the peoples of the world.
Our time is a time for change, and any step in this direction is a step toward the victory of freedom and the liberation of our enchained homeland, Iran.
Thank you all very much.
MC: Ladies gentlemen, our first keynote address, former U.S. Secretary of Energy and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, please welcome Honorable Governor Bill Richardson from New Mexico.
Governor Bill Richardson Remarks (Excerpts)
Are you ready for regime change in Iran? [applause] Do you want change in Iran? [applause] Who is going to bring about that change? You. I want to first tell you، I in 2004 was chairman of the Democratic Convention، and it’s great to see a great convention of Iranian-Americans. I want you to acknowledge the huge delegation from the state of New Mexico. [applause] This man here is a hero. [applause] The leader، Wes، of Camp Ashraf. I’m very proud، I’m very proud to share the stage with America’s mayor، Rudy Giuliani. [applause] And now the president’s mayor too. [laughs] Noticing the political convention as always there’s too many people from California here. [laughs] No، no، it’s great، it’s great to see you. It’s great to be with you.
You know، as I see Iranian-Americans and I see this movement evolving، I remember the days when our conventions were not so well-attended، when we weren’t so many، when the movement was just starting. But what has happened in the last few months? What’s happened is what started in late September 2017، massive protests erupting all over Iran. Let’s hear it for those protestors. [applause] The largest protest since 2009. They started in (Mahabad). How’s my Iranian? Not good، I know. [applause] 142 cities in every one of Iran’s 32 provinces. Every one. 142 cities. Why? You heard it. You heard it from these wonderful students. Let’s hear it for that youth that spoke moments ago. The future
Why، why this uprising? Economic issues. Banks collapsing. Pensions lost. No water. Runaway prices. Food، eggs، costs out of control. Human rights violations galore everywhere. Three thousand executions since 2013. Arrests، jailings، including Americans، including many from throughout the world just seeking freedom، journalists. Massive political corruption everywhere. Helping the murderous regime in Syria. Helping and aiding a man who killed with chemical weapons his own people.
Is that what we want in Iran? [crowd says “No”] Do we want to replace that regime? [crowd says “Yes”] Do we have an alternative? [Crowd says “Yes”] What is the alternative? The NCRI. The MEK. You. You. Mrs. Rajavi، let’s hear it for Mrs. Rajavi. You know، I was told that one of the ten points، which I’m going to just repeat، is gender equality. But you know what I see? I see a lot more women than men، like 80%، 20%. And that’s good. And that’s good. And I want to just go through where we are with the regime. It’s in a fragile state. It’s on the ropes، as they say with boxers. The fighter that was just up here. It’s weakest that it’s ever been. And the debate is no longer the hard liners against the reformers. It is now the entire people against the regime. [applause] The Iranian people want regime change. People are standing up everywhere، regardless of political persuasion.
So question number two. Why are we here? Why are you all here from all around the country? And I see enormous strength and entrepreneurship and so many of you that have fought so hard to pursue the Iranian-American dream. And I honor and I’m honored to be speaking with you. But why are we here? We’re here to recognize there is a legitimate opposition. It’s right here. [applause] It’s right here. It’s the parliament in exile. The National Council of Iran، the MEK، it’s right here. What do you see in all these signs in Iran in the demonstrations? We saw them earlier here. Independence، freedom، Iranian republic. No to the principle of absolute clerical rule. Reformists، hardliners، the game is over. The Iranian people want fundamental change. They want a republic. They want a democracy. But not an Islamic republic led by the mullahs. So، the NCRI، we gotta find a quicker name، NCRI. MEK، that’s good، that’s quicker. But the key word is resistance. It’s opposition. It’s democracy. It’s alternative.
So why the NCRI? What are the reasons? Why are we all here? And I’m going to give you some very good reasons. One، very good organizational skills. We can see it here. We can see it in the events of Paris. We can see them June 30th in Paris where Iranians from all over the world come together. The last event I went to had 3 million people—no، I’m exaggerating. [laughs] But it was packed. And it was lively. And it was hot، people were sweating but sweating with strength and love and reform and democracy. And Wes has a lot to do with that. [applause] What he did in Camp Ashraf، the Colonel، Colonel Wes from New Mexico. And Wes and I، he just told me to say this، are Republicans and Democrats coming together. And this is why this movement is strong. You heard from Democrats. You heard from Republicans. You’ve heard from people around the world، the European Union. From Spaniards، Frenchman، Latin Americans، Mexicans، Africans، Asians، they’re all behind this movement. It’s all coming together. It’s coming together because of this movement and the organization.
Viable، strong leadership. Mrs. Rajavi. [applause] But leadership that is willing to sacrifice. Leadership that is willing to take risks. Leadership with a platform. A democratic vision for the future. Not just slogans but specific principles. I mention risk. A willingness to sacrifice. Twenty thousand members of our organization executed by the Iranian regime and those leaders. Twenty thousand. Also very important، exposing those intelligence secrets that the regime wanted to keep on their nuclear capability. This was done by this organization، in large party by my friend Ali (Ariza Jafarsadee). [applause] He’s not listening. Ali—is it getting better as we get this speech? I mentioned the international support. I mentioned the Republicans and Democrats. So I’m the warmup act for Mayor Giuliani. [crowd says “Yeah”] You shouldn’t say that، who said that? [laughs] But that’s good، because I think you’re going to hear from him a very fine speaker and somebody like me that’s been with this movement، I think we’re in our tenth year. [applause]
So I’m going to close، I’m going to close with why these principles are so important. They were mentioned probably earlier in the discussion، the ten point plan for the future. The ballot box، votes، democracy is the only barometer for legitimacy. A republic based on universal suffrage. Number one. Number two، a pluralistic system. Freedom of parties and assembly and press. Respecting all individual freedoms. Freedom of expression in the media. Unconditional access of the internet، the most powerful form of communication today. Number three، supporting and committing to the abolition of the death penalty. I was very proud as governor in New Mexico to abolish the death penalty. And it should be all around the world. The separation of church and state، any form of discrimination against the followers of any religion and denomination should be totally prohibited. Gender equality in political، social، economic arenas. Committed to equal participation of women in political leadership. Any form of discrimination against women abolished. Women enjoying the right to freely choose their clothing. Free in marriage، divorce، education and employment.
Number six، believing in the rule of law and the rule of justice. A modern judicial system. That young woman، that attorney، talking about a judicial system based on the principles of the presumption of innocence، the right of defense، effective judicial protection، and the right to be tried in a public court. The independence of judges. The mullah Sharia law gone forever. Committed also، number seven، committed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. International covenants، conventions. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The convention against torture. The convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. The equality of all ethnicities. One of the great barometers of the Iranian community is diversity، is the strength of cultures، of ethnicity، of religion. I can see it in all your faces and what you’ve brought to America.
I see also a very strong entrepreneurship. That’s what I see Iranian-Americans everywhere. Entrepreneurship، growth، jobs، technology. Recognizing private property، private investment، market economy، all Iranian people must have that equality and employment. Business ventures. Revitalizing and protecting the environment. Those pictures of Iran، the beauty، the land، the water. Incredible commitment to protecting the quality of air، the quality of human beings being able to operate in an environment that is clean and just. Foreign policy، my love، a peaceful coexistence. Regional peace and cooperation. Respect for the United Nations charter. A nonnuclear Iran free of weapons of mass destruction. So what I see is you، me، us، NCRI، the National Council of Resistance of Iran. A coalition of some 500 Iranian opposition groups and personalities committed to a democratic، secular، and nonnuclear republic in Iran. Once again، with half of its members women. And the council’s primary task is free and fair elections.
So we are here because the mullahs’ era for them the end is near. The end is near. [applause] And the next step is the alternative. That’s up to you. That’s up to us. This is why we need to organize more. This is why we need to reach out more. This is why it’s a crucial period of the evolution of this movement of freedom and democracy. So، do you want to see change in Iran? [applause] Do you want to see the regime replaced? [crowd says “Yes”] Do you want to see regime change? [Crowd says “yes”] Do you want to see democracy in Iran? [Crowd says “Yes”] Do you want to see freedom in Iran? [crowd says “yes”] Do you want to see America stand by you? [Crowd says “Yes.”] That I’m going to leave to my buddy، Mayor Giuliani. [laughs] Thank you، thank you. [applause]
MC: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our next keynote speaker, America’s Mayor, the honorable Rudy Giuliani.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani Remarks (Excerpts)
GIULIANI: Thank you very much, thank you. [Chanting “Thank you”] [laughs] Oh, thank you. No, no, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you very much. That was a very, very beautiful introduction, and it was very moving for me to see the pictures, particularly of the early times with you, both here and in Paris, and with my hero, Madam Rajavi. [applause]
Like Bill Richardson, I believe that the most powerful thing about this movement is that it is political in the best sense, meaning it’s not partisan political, it’s not ideologically political, it’s morally political. [applause] We’re here not as Republicans or Democrats, or whatever, we’re here because we love freedom. And we can now smell it, right, we can see it. We can see it in the—we could always see it in the people here and in Paris, and we can see their love of freedom. I got to see it first hand in Albania, a couple of about two months ago. Could see what they can do when they live in freedom, how much more they can organize, how much more they can get information for us. They’re building a beautiful city in Tirana, right on the outskirts of Tirana. [applause] Now that they don’t have to worry about being slaughtered by the Iranians and the Iraqis, who have become a satellite of Iran, they can do a lot of productive things. And they have now speeded up dramatically our ability to bring freedom to Iran. I really believe that it is now in sight that we will have one of these conventions in Tehran. [applause]
Let me say a word about something that’s going on right now, and I hope and I pray that it happens, because freedom for any oppressed people helps all of us. And there is a good chance that three longtime hostages in North Korea will be released over the next several days. I pray, I pray that that happens, but that didn’t happen accidentally, just like your freedom isn’t going to come about accidentally. We’ve seen people die to bring about that kind of thing in North Korea. A prisoner who was released a year or so ago who died, Mr. (Wombeer). What a tragedy that is. But he’s a martyr like the martyrs that you’ve had at Liberty and Ashraf and inside of Iraq. He paved the way to freedom. And when those two, three people are released, they’ll have to thank him as one of the people that brought it about. But I’ll tell you the person we really have to also thank: President Donald Trump. [applause] I don’t know, I have the great honor of being his good friend for 30 years and I also have the great honor of being his attorney in something that is totally unjustified. But I wonder how it is that he can accomplish this with the tremendous distractions that he faces every single day. It’s really remarkable. And it comes about for the same reasons that you can and I can. Because there’s nothing that’s more important than bringing freedom and liberating good people, like the people of Iran. [applause]
That protest that started in January of this year are now all over Iran. You heard Bill say 142 cities and growing. Now that wouldn’t have happened before, because when the protest started, as you know, (Ali raza), when the protest started and we were so hopeful that they’d take off three or four, five years ago, the president at the time turned his back on the freedom fighters. And people died because he did that. Just like he turned his back on the people of Syria after he drew the line and they died from chemical weapons. Well, President Trump’s reaction to both, very different. In the case of Syria, they crossed the red line and he bombed them. [applause] And the little cowards—and he had to stand up not just to puny little Assad, but he had to stand up to Russia and to Putin, and he did. [applause] And they went back into their little holes where they belong. They belong in little holes in the ground. That was made for them. Without any food, because I don’t think they eat. I don’t like them very much.
But what I’m really impressed with is how different it was when President Trump did not what President Obama did, turn his back, but did what my hero, President Reagan, did. He said to them—he didn’t send troops, he didn’t send arms, he didn’t send airplanes. He just said a couple of simple words; “We support their fight for freedom.” [applause] That’s what Ronald Reagan did in Poland. That’s what Ronald Reagan did in Poland and it became the Solidarity movement and it became a free Poland and the Iron Curtain came down and the Soviet Union was gone. Not a single person had to die. We’ve already had people have to die. But no more. We’ve got a president who’s tough. A president who doesn’t listen to the people who are naysayers. And a president that is as committed to regime change as we are. [applause] And with Secretary of State Pompeo now on his right hand, and his National Security Advisor John Bolton, you remember John Bolton, on his left side, what do you think is going to happen to that agreement, that nuclear agreement? [applause] Yep. With that gone, sanctions back, with that gone and sanctions back, we have a real chance of escalating these protests. It hasn’t really helped Iran as much as we thought it would, having the sanctions lifted, because their economy is basically a thoroughly corrupt economy. The only people getting wealthy in Iran are the mullahs and Rouhani and Khamenei and all the people who cooperate with them. Everyone else is poor now. People who used to be middle class and wealthy are now poor. And you think they’re going to take that for much—they’re your brothers and sisters. They are not going to take that for very much longer. So my guess is, this is going to happen faster than people think…..
So I would like to make it clear, here’s the alternative. It’s right in front of you. We saw her. Madame Rajavi, right there. [applause] How about more women in this audience than men? That’s the only reason that I’m here. I see that man with a smile on his face with that beautiful woman next to him. I saw that immediately that, you know, a lot of people think Madame Rajavi is a figurehead as a woman, because it’s so unusual that an organization like this a woman would be in charge. But when you go and meet her in Paris and you go to the compound or you go to Albania and you see the women are in the leadership roles as much if not more than the men, you realize this is for real. When their ten principles include the rights of women, they don’t just say it, they live it maybe even more than we do in the U.S. [applause] What a great example for our allies like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. What a great example for our enemies like Iran and some of the other countries where women are subjected to horrible things, close to slavery. What a wonderful thing for us as Americans to see the rights of women. And what a wonderful thing for fathers who have daughters and mothers who have daughters to see that even in Iran women can go right to the very top and be the best. A wonderful thing that you’re bringing us. That’s why I think when Madame Rajavi comes here, the fact that she’s a woman will mean so, so much. [applause] I didn’t say if, I said when…..
We believe Madame Rajavi should be the leader, but we expect opposition groups in Iran. [applause] This is not going to be a leader like they have in Russia where he gets 98% of the vote. We’re happy with 51%. [laughter] I did some of my best work with 48%. [laughter]
And then, most important because it’s so unusual, the rights of women to have the same roles as men. Dr. Ryan, who’s going to speak after maybe two areas of entertainment, runs a hospital in New Hampshire and she’s one of the top executives in New Hampshire. And as you will see, she’s a woman, and a mother, and a grandmother. But she has a full-time, very important job as the head of a hospital. And she is working with us to make sure that the healthcare facilities at Tirana are as good as they were at Ashraf and better. [applause] Because when I went there, I really thought we could help the people—and I say this in the most humble way, because of your great skill and your people—you can help the people of Albania. And we do owe them for taking us. And you can help them with healthcare. They need that level of expertise. They have some hospitals. The best hospital is an American hospital. Now that’s good but that’s not right, it should be an Albanian hospital. And I think you can help them, and you can help them with dental care and you can help them with child care. I mean, you have children, as you know, and you’re still having children, thank God, in Albania.
So this is it can happen. Madame Rajavi is going to lead the movement for reform. We’re all going to be in Tehran pretty soon. [applause] All my pals have their bags packed. Senator Torricelli, Mike Mukasey, you know, all the usual characters. They’re all coming to Paris on June 30th. [applause] You’ll be with us, right? So this is now an invitation to the media who’s here, come to Paris. I think it’s only been covered twice by American media. It’s covered by European media all the time. Come to Paris because if you come you can see something you have to see. This is for real. This is not just a—there’s a hundred thousand people in Paris. That’s bigger than most armies in the world. [applause] And it’s an army of men and women and children. That army’s going to be there five years from now and ten and fifteen and twenty. It’s going to get bigger. So come to Paris. It shouldn’t be hard to get you to come to Paris.
I want to conclude by saying one thing about the president of France, who is a good friend of the president of the United States, even though like Elliott Richardson and me, their ideology differs somewhat. Earlier this year, when our protest movement started, Rouhani called President Macron, and he said to throw Madame Rajavi out of the compound outside of Paris. President Macron said no, “Non. Non.” [applause] President Macron then went one step further. He put out a transcript of the entire conversation, basically to say to Rouhani, go to you know where. [applause] Christian, Jews and Muslims can all go there. Particularly the phony ones. And for that, I think we’re going to feel very, very appreciative this year, more so than ever before. And I hope that he comes, because he would be enormously welcome there. And I know our other supporters will be there and I want a lot of new people to come. And I want particularly the American media to come, because I challenge them to cover that and not realize we are really close. they will then be able to get footage of all these Iranians who are going to be the next government of Iran. So thanks very much and God bless you.
MC: Our next performer is pianist Seena Saidian, who comes from Kansas. He is 16 years old and has been attending several annual meetings and rallies in the U.S
MC: Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome American students from our nations Capital, Washington DC, who have been following the developments in Iran and want to express their solidarity, both in words and in music, with the Iranian people’s uprising for freedom.
MC: Our convention is pleased to welcome Dr. Maria Ryan, nationally recognized as the “Top 50 Rural Hospital CEOs” in the United States. Dr. Ryan has a distinguished career in for- profit, non-profit, tertiary care and, most recently, a critical access hospital. Dr. Ryan currently serves as Vice Chair of the New Hampshire Rural Health Coalition, a Board of Trustee member for the New Hampshire Hospital Association, New Hampshire Bishop’s Charitable Assistance Fund, and many others. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Dr. Maria Ryan.
Dr. Maria Ryan’s Remarks (Excerpts):
Salam. Where are the New Hampshire people? Anybody from New Hampshire? Yay. [applause] You may wonder why I am here. I’m not Iranian, I’m not a politician, I’m just a human being who was very compelled by the story I heard about the MEK. I’ve had my ups and downs in life and my struggles. I had to overcome poverty. But never was I persecuted on a daily basis. Never was I told my opinion doesn’t matter because of my gender. Never was I tortured or had loved ones kidnapped or killed. All these stories really affected me, and when I learned that when the MEK left Iran and how they were tortured in Iraq at Camp Ashraf and then later Liberty, I was very thankful that Mayor Giuliani and people from the American government helped MEK resettle in Tirana, Albania. [applause]
I am especially moved by the women. I cannot believe how strong and united you are, especially with a leader like Madame Rajavi. [applause] She is a remarkable woman. And when I read her 10 point plan, isn’t this what all of us Americans want as well? Yes. [applause] A free Iran affects all of us. It affects us here in the United States. Just think of a free Iran with democratic elections. A free Iran of nuclear threats, of terrorism on their own people. We will all benefit from that. We need to call from support not only from government officials, but everyone around us. I challenge the media here today. You like to follow crazy stories about President Trump that aren’t true. Why don’t you follow something that’s extremely meaningful? Come to Paris, come see what it’s all about. [applause]
I believe every American, if they are apprised of the issues, will unite with you. Don’t you see that this can happen in your lifetime? Did we ever think we would see North Korea and South Korea presidents hugging on the border? Like it’s unheard of. And I do thank my president, our President Trump, for that. And he’s also interested in this cause. I thank you all. I encourage you to come to Paris. I will be in Paris. I will be in Tirana. [applause] You will win, you will be victorious. (Merci).
MC: Please welcome, our next speaker who has been recognized as the 2006 woman of the year by California legislators, Director of Residency and Medical Education at Borrego Health, Dr. Ashraf Zadhshir
Dr. Ashraf Zadhshir’s Remarks (Excerpts):
Good afternoon, everyone. It is such a great pleasure to be among you today.
It was early 80s when I first got to know Iranian resistance. I, along many of my classmates, were active in peaceful demonstrations for democracy. But soon after, many of those were arrested, tortured and executed. Kobra Ebrahimi was only 13 at the time of execution. Farzaneh, my best friend who pledged to pursue medical profession and help the needy, was arrested and later hanged during the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners. I would like to salute all those brave women and men, who stood up against theocratic regime of Iran and those who have fallen for freedom and democracy in Iran. (Salute) [applause]
Ladies and gentlemen, that is why I feel so passionate about the need to bring about change in Iran, and despite all my preoccupation, I remain focused in making that happen. As a physician, my primary goal is to see the problems in the health care system under the current regime in Iran and look for solutions. [applause] According to the state-run ISNA news agency, quoting minister of health Alireza Vali, “the country is facing enormous shortage of physicians and nurses.” Current available physicians are only 10% of total population’s need. Shortage of 90,000 hospital beds, extreme lack of clinics and hospitals in particular in rural and remote areas are among other significant problems. Under current regime in Iran ability to pay is precondition for medical care. Based on World Health Organization ranking system, Iran is ranked number 93 in health care performance.
So how is it that the people of Iran, one of the most resourceful nations in the world are suffering from lack of access to minimum and basic medical care? Here is why such a contradiction exists. The country’s official budget this year allocates more than $26.8 billion to military and security affairs and the export of terrorism. This is in addition to the $27.5 billion in military spending from institutions controlled by Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. However, the budget for health care is a mere $16.3 billion. They spend the nation’s wealth and revenues on the war operations against the people of Syria or on suppression of Iranian society. This is why the Iranian people are calling for change.
Here I like to leave you with a quote of President-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. “The day is not far when all the oppressed people of Iran will achieve their fundamental rights, freedom, social justice, equality and the welfare they deserve in a free Iran. [applause] Yes, we can overcome the evil of religious dictatorship; We can take down the walls of repression; And we can free our occupied homeland.” And that is what the current uprising is all about. Thank you.
MC: Our next musical performance is by Maryam and Milod Hossieni performing one of the most memorable classical pieces by Iranian legends. Maryam, a freshman in high school, has been inspired by Iran’s legendary diva, Marzieh and has been training and singing in this genre since age 4. Her brother Milod, is in middle school and has been playing the flute since age 9. Milod is also inspired by Iran’s legendary Emad Ram, a famous Iranian musician and political artists. We are very proud to see the rich reflection of the Iranian heritage in our second and third generation. Ladies and gentleman, please welcome Maryam and Milod Hosseini.
MC: It is our great pleasure to welcome our next speaker who is admired and respected by millions in Iran and abroad. Member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Chair of NCRI’s Athletics Committee. A man who has not only won 17 Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for Iran in international competition, but whose humility and his defense of the rights of the Iranian people, has earned him the title of national hero of Iran. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Pahlavan Moslem Eskhandar Filabi.
*Remarks was in Farsi
MC: Our next speaker is also a member of the National Council of the Resistance of Iran. He is Iran’s beloved champion, revered, first and foremost, for his modesty. A world champion who made Iran proud in international wrestling competitions, who won Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in world championships. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Dr. Mohammad Ghorbani.
*Remarks was in Farsi
MC: Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome leaders and representatives of the Iranian American communities presenting the convention resolution adopted by the delegates. The resolution will be delivered by Dr. Homeira Hesami from Texas and Mr. Mehdi Ghaemi from Colorado.