Thank you for your long battle for a free and democratic Iran. For 10 years, the government I led chose a course in foreign policy guided by freedom, democracy and justice, human rights, human equality, and human dignity. The same values that someday soon will be embraced in Tehran.
But that is not Iran today. Iran is ruled by a regime of cruel and tyrannical mullahs that represent the opposite of the best of human values. That is why our government took a strong stand against the regime. We sponsored annual resolutions at the United Nations against Iran’s human rights abuses. We used sanctions to cut off the flow of funds to the Revolutionary Guard and other regime entities. We formally listed the regime as an international state sponsor of terrorism. We passed legislation to allow victims to sue the regime for its atrocities. And, friends, we closed the Canadian embassy in Tehran and told the mullahs to get out of Canada.
The mullahs’ prisons continue to overflow with people jailed not for their crimes but for their consciences. And the executioners work relentlessly. Women and girls are still treated as property, not people. Religious minorities are still repressed. And as much as the mullahs repress them, the protests for change rise in the streets, and they will keep rising until the regime is gone.
The 2015 nuclear deal has not moderated the regime. It has made it more belligerent than ever, and, friends, that is why I was proud to sign a letter that appeared in the New York Times with my good friend, John Baird, with former prime minister John Howard, with Nobel Peace Prize recipient David Trimble, and many others, supporting the American decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. We stick by our principles: freedom, democracy, justice, human rights, human equality, and human dignity for the people of Iran.
…You have many friends, as today’s gathering shows, from all around the world, who want a new Iran. An Iran governed not by the hatreds of the past, but by the people’s aspirations for their future. Keep up the fight.
• Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is Chairman of the International Democrat Union.