Theresa Villiers, Former Secretary of State for Environment and Northern Ireland and Conservative Member of Parliament
Speech to the FreeIran2020 Global Summit: Iran Rising Up for Freedom – July 17, 2020
Thank you so much for the opportunity to join you today and say a few words in a personal capacity at this very important online conference in support of human rights, democracy, and freedom in Iran.
It is incredible that this event is coming from 30,000 locations, 100 countries and includes 1,000 parliamentarians and other dignitaries.
It is an honor for me to be on that long list of distinguished parliamentarians you read out from the United Kingdom.
I want to send my very best wishes to NCRI and to President-elect Maryam Rajavi for her inspirational work on the international scene on behalf of the people of Iran at this very, very difficult time.
Of course, we all know that the human rights situation in Iran continues to be appalling and on top of this, we now have seen the disastrous handling of the Covid emergency by the Iranian government.
It appears only too clear that the mullahs have placed their own political priorities ahead of efforts to keep people safe from Covid.
The outbreak is just being used as an excuse to intensify domestic repression.
In the Covid crisis, consistent with their approach over decades, the mullahs seem entirely lacking in care or compassion for the people of Iran. And they seem disastrously lacking in competence, as well.
The survival of the regime appears much more important than saving lives in the health outbreak.
Iran appears to be experiencing a serious second wave of the virus and I know the research by NCRI reveals a death toll of above 70,000 people, nearly 5 times the regime’s official statistic.
Amid all of this, the commander-in-chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, responsible for so many atrocities, the commander in chief of that organization is reported by the media as saying that the regime will use all means to manage and control the consequences of any potential uprising or opposition.
Now, we all know that that could only be more killings and more mass arrests of activists campaigning for democracy and human rights, including, of course, PMOI supporters.
So that is why our conference today is so important.
It’s a crucial opportunity for us to ask democracies to urge the international community including the UK government to keep up the pressure on this brutal, and oppressive regime. And it is also an opportunity to send a massage of support and solidarity to the people of Iran, so that they know that we here stand with them at this terrible time, and so that they know that we share their goal to free and democratic secular Iran, where the rule of law is observed and human rights are respected.