Saturday 19th September 2020

It is a great honor and privilege for me to participate in this important meeting of the Welle Charity today. The work that you do supporting human rights in Iran and exposing the brutal repression of the Iranian regime is of great significance. But you also play an effective role in bringing the voice of the Iranian people to the international community and saving the lives of prisoners in danger, especially in this period of the Corona Pandemic. Can I thank you sincerely for your great work? I know in particular that you have been very active in campaigning to stop the execution of young political prisoners in Iran, arrested during the nationwide uprisings in 2018 and 2019 and I urge you to continue that campaign. Your work has saved lives, but we still need to do more. Last Saturday the regime hanged Navid Afkari, despite a worldwide campaign to stop his execution.

Navid Afkari was a 27-year-old wrestling champion from the city of Shiraz. He was a hero in Shiraz and renowned throughout Iran for his wrestling skills. He was on the verge of representing Iran internationally. The mullahs have brutally ended his career and his life. He was arrested in Shiraz during nationwide protests that took place in 2018. Shiraz, the city of poets, is Iran’s fifth largest city and was the epicentre of protests, when tens of thousands took to the streets in December 2017 and January 2018. Predictably, the mullahs ordered their Gestapo, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), to crackdown on the protesters, shooting dead hundreds and wounding thousands.

There were worldwide calls for clemency from leading sports personalities, politicians, the International Olympic Committee, Amnesty International and even President Trump. But ignoring all pleas, the Iranian authorities tortured Navid for weeks. In a smuggled letter, he described how for 50 days he was beaten with sticks and batons on his arms, buttocks and back. He had a plastic bag placed over his head until he almost suffocated. The torturers also poured alcohol up his nose.  His execution last Saturday demonstrates once again how no-one inside Iran can intervene. International pressure is the only way we can stop these atrocities and appalling human rights abuse. We need to intensify our efforts.

This is the reality of the justice system and human rights in Iran today. For the past 41 years the mullahs’ revolutionary creed of radicalized Islam in reality boils down to a policy of hatred. Hatred of the West and in particular America, a hatred of Sunnis, a visceral hatred of Saudi Arabia and Israel and a hatred of religious minorities of any kind. To achieve their constitutional objective of spreading revolution to create a fundamentalist Shi’ite caliphate, the clerical regime has vigorously backed Bashar al-Assad’s bloody civil war in Syria; it has trained, financed and commanded the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq; it has sponsored the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon and the Houthi rebels in Yemen; it has bankrolled and inspired the export of proxy-wars and terror throughout the Middle East and the wider world. Every country the mullahs have targeted is now a smoking ruin. Founded on hatred, this theocratic fascist dictatorship has wrecked the Iranian economy, plundered the people’s wealth, ruined the environment and turned this once great nation into an international pariah.

Deploying the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, the mullahs have unleashed a homicidal blitz on their own population, crushing dissent during the nationwide uprisings in 2018 and 2019, wantonly murdering and maiming thousands of peaceful protesters. The mullahs closed down the internet to try to hide their crimes and suppress the uprising. But the people have lost their fear. Now Iran’s jails are bursting at the seams with political prisoners, many of them young students, male and female. During the uprising in 2019, the IRGC shot dead 1,500 young protesters and wounded a further 12,000. Many of the wounded were dragged from their hospital beds and taken to torture chambers and prisons across Iran where they now face execution. Conditions inside the medieval prisons are horrendous, with Covid-19 spreading like wildfire, while no attempts are made at providing any kind of protection or medical assistance. The mullahs’ scandalous mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic has seen the death toll across Iran soar to over 120,000.

Under the mullahs Iran has achieved pole position as the world’s number one executioner on a per capita basis. The main target for arrest, torture and execution are, of course, supporters of the resistance and opponents of the theocratic regime. Over the past four decades, 120,000 political prisoners have been executed. Dozens more have been assassinated outside of Iran. 80 million Iranians, the majority of whom now struggle to survive on daily incomes below the international poverty line, are demanding regime change and the restoration of freedom, justice and democracy to their impoverished nation. 

I know that your Welle charity played a key role in helping to rescue more than 3,000 members of the resistance movement, helping with their transfer to Albania and for that you will always be fondly remembered and thanked. I have worked with the Iranian resistance for the past 20 years. Like you, I played an active role in helping them escape from Iraq to Albania, where they have now created Ashraf 3, the headquarters of opposition to the fascist dictatorship in Tehran. I have been to Ashraf 3 on several occasions to meet the charismatic leader of the resistance Mrs. Maryam Rajavi and her formidable team. Guided by the courageous example of Mrs. Rajavi, resistance units are now active in every town and city in Iran, giving hope to 80 million oppressed Iranians. 

Without the revealing activities of the Welle and other human rights organizations, the mullahs would have been able to prolong their rule in a climate of silence and indifference from the international community. But the times are changing. Organizations like Welle have put pressure on governments around the world and have shone a spotlight on the theocratic regime in Iran. We must redouble our efforts and redouble the pressure. I thank you all for your support. It is much appreciated what you have done and what you are doing. 

The belligerent behavior of the Iranian regime proves that attempts at diplomatic negotiation or appeasement are pointless. Navid Afkari’s execution, despite international protests, is a disgrace and once again demonstrates why the leaders of this fascist theocracy must be indicted for crimes against humanity and held accountable in the international criminal courts. 

Once again, may I thank you for inviting me to take past in this important meeting today.