ASHRAF-3, Albania — Iran's largest opposition group opened the doors of its new home base on Saturday with a wave of praise from political leaders from both the left and the right, hailing from nearly 50 countries and all enthusiastic about the group and its goals.
Iran: The Power of the Alternative
"Iran: The Power of the Alternative" is a Special Report prepared by The Washington Times Special Sections Department.
Thanks to you and particularly to the people who live here in Ashraf 3 you'll be honored forever in Iranian history and in the history of those who love and are willing to die for freedom. God bless you.
It is not only an honor but exciting to be here in Ashraf 3.
In recent history, the world has recognized and recorded the extraordinary leadership of women in trying and difficult and challenging times confronting their country, their region and their value system.
I am very, very honored to be here today with you. And your inspiration, your prayers, your support, your commitment in spirit for freedom have carried you so far in such a short period of time. Madame Rajavi, we salute you, we love you, we respect you for not just the leadership and the courage that you've shown but the ability to move this peace commitment as far as it's moved in such a short period of time.
Today what began with a single woman is now a chorus of voices all around the world. To those of you in Iran who at the risk of your lives listened to us on radios or on flickering television screens or on devices in your hands, it is your time.
We are all overwhelmed by what you have built here in Ashraf 3; what a tremendous achievement. Congratulations.
It is a great honor for me to visit Ashraf 3, to meet you personally, to hear firsthand of your struggles, and most importantly to see and to learn and to feel your persistence and your commitment to freedom.
This exhibition that you see here is a small part of the larger picture of the sacrifice made throughout decades of struggle for freedom and democracy This story of the supporters of Ashraf who helped rescue the PMOI/MEK members is the story of honorable people... Time has shown that you stand on the right side of history. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "Throughout history, there are always tyrants... and for a period they seem invincible. However, they all fall in the end. Always."
This [Ashraf 3] is a fantastic masterpiece of art and friendship. This room, built in some few weeks, [is] glorious ... It is very well done. Coming to ... Ashraf 3 was really a reward for the people supporting you and for you supporting your people. Now we are facing this new step ... the era of freedom in Iran.
I thank you for representing a vision, a direction that unites all Iranians and many people in the world Iran is behind all the crises in the Middle East. Iran destabilizes the whole region. Iran finances terrorists and supports them with weapons.
I want to tell you a few things I've learned in my first seven months in office. The first thing I learned [regarding] Iran is one of the most respected people across the United States in your movement is Madame Rajavi...
When I was chairman of the terrorism subcommittee, I wanted to have Madame Rajavi testify [by satellite]. All the bureaucrats were jumping out the windows. They said it couldn't be done, but she made the case for freedom, the case for the MEK, the case for delisting the MEK. And let me say this about Madame Rajavi. When she testified and made the case for freedom for Iran, I was impressed and others were impressed.
... And Madame (Rajavi), thank you, God bless you, God bless this movement. This movement will make it a better world.... Americans are attracted to people like yourselves who are seeking freedom and seeking a better life for your families... The children of the United States and throughout the world will be safer if you succeed in eliminating the worst terrorist government on this planet. And their days are numbered.
Residents of Ashraf 3, Mujahedeen e-Khalq, it is my honor to stand before you and greet you for the second time and to be in this wonderful country of Albania for the second time, but for the first time in Ashraf 3. Clearly this is an engineering and construction feat that shows how smart, how talented, how driven, how capable the residents are, so congratulations. That's just one point.
Madame Rajavi, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to be here today and to be even a small part of what I believe is a great day for the cause of freedom in Iran and throughout the world.
You know Madame Rajavi, all of us were young once. We had dreams. On the portraits of each of our aspirations, there's a field of dreams of hopes and aspirations.
You who are in the resistance movement led by Madame Rajavi are at the forefront of the struggle for a free and democratic Iran. And you are a beacon of hope for millions of oppressed people in Iran.
The prominent role of women in the Iranian resistance reflects what is happening in Iran with women organizing and being at the forefront of the protests that have been going on in the country.
We are now approaching the time when freedom will be restored to Iran. We've seen since last year the people of Iran defying the regime's crackdown to rise up against the theocracy across Iran as a first step towards freedom. Your Iranian opposition, you, the MEK, are clearly behind these ongoing protests that continue to grow...
My fellow compatriots, honorable guests and distinguished dignitaries, Ashraf 3 welcomes you all.
Nestled between the turquoise water of the Adriatic Sea and the Albanian Alps are pristine green spaces and valleys. But even this stunning natural scenery pales in comparison to the man-made oasis crafted by thousands of Iranian political activists hoping to free their country from tyranny.
Ashraf 3, Albania, hosts a historic tribute to the hundreds of thousands of heroes fallen for the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran. The exhibition is intended to tell an extremely moving history of suffering, but at the same time show the Iranian people's resolve to achieve democracy at any cost.
I was in the regime's prisons for six years. The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) arrested me while I was pregnant. I was taken to Evin prison and the torture chambers. I was transferred to Ward 209. In the cell, I saw four torturers torture my husband in front of me. They also tortured me in front of him.
Over the past year, the MEK expanded its "Resistance Units," and they have been very active in all cities across Iran, informing and assisting the public on ways to resist the regime.
The January 2018 uprising in Iran spread into 31 provinces and 142 cities in the span of two weeks with the slogans, "Death to Khamenei," "Death to the principle of the velayat-e faqih," "Reformers, hardliners, the game is now over," and "Our enemy is right here; they lie to say it is America!"
As members of the American team, we call on our friends and colleagues from all over the world to recognize 2019 as the "Year of the Ashraf Resident."
The young generation may not know that late Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq was a leader in the whole region, and I also want to hail the great leader Massoud Rajavi whom I had met four decades ago.
I have three messages:
We are all citizens of Ashraf. When we see this extraordinary energy and the miracles you've achieved, you've done all of this in 16 months. This is magnificent.
Iranian opposition President Mrs. Maryam Rajavi has led this movement, and today we are witnessing the regime in Iran on the brink of overthrow. I would like to thank all the distinguished guests with us here today, and those who couldn't join us, for all their support in all these years.
I wanted to quickly take you on a little discussion about colors which represent darkness.
Your martyrs sacrificed their lives in order to achieve freedom for Iran. We cannot have appeasement with such a bloodthirsty regime. We must investigate the Iranian regime's human rights violations
Welcome to Albania and welcome to the beginning of free Iran here in Ashraf 3. I want to thank MEK and NCRI for bringing here in Albania friends from around the world. Yesterday and today, we have heard Mayor Giuliani, Senator Lieberman, a lot of dignitaries talking about what to do more, what's the next step. But I think we all agree on one thing: The time for change in Iran is long overdue.
My dear sister Maryam, I am sure that you will be victorious. You have proven that you are able to bring freedom to Iran.
I would like to thank the residents of Ashraf I would like to express my gratitude to the Albanian people and its leader for their humanity and solidarity.
The one point that struck me upon arrival here in Ashraf 3 ... all the flags that are out there of so many countries that are represented here. What a change. What a change compared with a bit more than 10 years ago when I arrived as the U.N. Special Representative for Iraq. It was hardly part of my brief that there was such a thing as Ashraf.
The international community must recognize the rights of Iranian people and resistance to establish freedom and democracy in their homeland, Iran. Ashraf 3 is a symbol for freedom and future.
Madame Rajavi and friends from Ashraf, a dream has come true. We are very honored to be here and to see this miracle, this overwhelming experience coming into a historic city that looks like Rome or Athens, which took thousands of years to build.
Ashraf 3, as well as Ashraf 2 and Ashraf 1, are one in the same city, the same uninterrupted and unfailing beacon of freedom... Massoud Rajavi has rightly called Ashraf the capital of the MEK, and I want to use this opportunity to express my warmest greetings to him, the historical leader of the MEK, and to wish him well because a free Iran will need him very much.
You're really organized. And that's important for people to see, because as we move the regime out in Iran, it's going to take a lot of work to put up a government and stand it up. And this is how I feel your strength is coming through — you're thinking about the future, you're organizing and you're disciplined. I'm very impressed by this.
Madame President Rajavi, dear friends of Mujahedeen movements, friends of this freedom movement for all the world, it is a great honor and pleasure for me to salute you, people fighting since many decades for freedom and human rights of your country.
My friends and I in Romania know what it is like to live under a brutal regime. Thirty years ago, the people stood for their belief in freedom and democracy. In those days the brutal regime was gone.
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 Rajavi.
This is an important conference on Iran and the future of stability in the region and across the world. It is the first time that I've visited Albania. What is clear today ... is the genuine enthusiasm and hunger of everyone here to ensure a democratic and pluralistic Iran once more.
I want to thank Albania for offering a safe haven to those who had been housed in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty inside Iraq. In only 12 months, these hard-working and resilient freedom fighters constructed a small city with shops, clinics, sports facilities, kitchens, bakeries, dormitory blocks, meeting halls, offices and studios. Albania has graciously hosted.
We are proud to be here with you. While tensions between Iran and the U.S. are on the rise, we are here to protect the interests of the Iranian people and protect democracy.
I feel very honored to be here, and I would like to express my respect for you who are working for democracy and freedom in Iran. Your movement, under the leadership of Madame Rajavi, is a democratic alternative to the mullah regime.
You are in the faith of Albanians, and this is our tradition. From official Tehran, we have different rumors in front of the Iranian society. We answer it in this way. Nuclear bomb cost freedom, no. [Paying Syria] regime costs freedom, no.
I would like to share with you a revelation that I experienced yesterday along with another number of visitors to Ashraf 3.
This year's Free Iran Convention in Tirana, Albania... provides an unparalleled opportunity for people to come together in support and recognition of human rights and also advocate for positive, democratic change in Iran.
I am pleased to see that you are safely settled in Albania and that you are able to host this gathering. Thank you for continuing to highlight the plight of Iranians who remain silent under an oppressive, brutal regime.
Madame Maryam Rajavi, I'm proud to be here with you and fight against the regime of Khomeini, even though the days of this regime are over
We in the Nordic countries — Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland — feel very strongly for human rights. And that is why there's a strong support in our countries to throw away the governments that do not respect human rights, including Iran.
Thank you for supporting a democratically free Iran.
Albania is Mother Teresa's homeland. It is a small country by size, its people have a big heart... It is this land that has been so hospitable to you with our friends on the road to exile. I wanted to begin by thanking Albania, which has allowed you to have a very precious refuge here.
The work you've done here is magnificent. We are here to once again to oppose the mullahs for what they're doing to the world. They are killing Iranians in the most diabolic way. They are violating the human rights of their population in every way.
Six months ago, this was a construction site. Today, it's a well-designed city with an amazing victory arch and magical lighted trees. And I have come here several times to share with you Ashrafis, to stay here with you, and I have been sleeping here, I have been sharing my meals with you.
As we gather to celebrate the freedom of speech, the freedom of thinking and idea sharing, I come here for the second time and Ashraf 3 is even more beautiful and operative. The improvement to reach your dream is clear and visible. A dream guided by a brave woman, the President Maryam Rajavi, and open for Iranian people
It's a pleasure and a privilege to be here with you tonight celebrating with you the obvious pride you see in what you've accomplished here in the last 20 months. Congratulations on what you've done.