CHICAGO (Reuters) – Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited the headquarters of Iran’s main opposition movement in Tirana, Albania on Thursday, where he paid tribute to those murdered by the Iranian regime and continued resistance efforts.
He also condemned President Joe Biden and his politics for “unraveling” progress that had been made to undermine Tehran’s support for terrorism and its efforts to develop a nuclear weapon.
Pence was addressing an audience of over 2,000 to a packed house in Camp Ashraf-3. It is home to around 3,000 members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, also known as the MEK. Iranian dissidents gather there every year to support the struggle to “liberate” Iran from the “tyranny and brutality” of its ruling ayatollahs.
“I have traveled more than 5,000 miles, from my home in Indiana, to be here today because we share a common cause: the liberation of the Iranian people from decades of tyranny and the rebirth of a free Iran. , peaceful, prosperous and democratic,” Pence told the audience.
“This is the first time I have had the opportunity to visit Albania since the end of my term as Vice President of the United States. Although I no longer speak on behalf of the United States government, I speak with confidence opinions of millions of Americans. And I can say to everyone gathered here, including many of my fellow Americans, that the American people stand with you as you stand up and work for freedom in Iran.
Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an MEK partner organization, welcomed Pence to the camp.
“Three days ago marked the start of the 42nd year of our national resistance against the mullahs’ regime,” she said. “On June 20, 1981, (Ayatollah) Khomeini ordered his Revolutionary Guards to open fire on the peaceful demonstration of half a million PMOI in Tehran and turned it into a massacre .
“The same night, mass executions began, without even identifying the victims. A few moments ago at the Museum of Resistance, you saw a glimpse of the suffering of the Iranian people under the mullahs’ regime and also of their resistance against the regime. A thousand political prisoners tortured by the Shah’s regime or the religious dictatorship in power are present in this room today. Some have lost 10 or 12 family members.
Rajavi thanked Pence for his support, not only when he was vice president, but also when he was a congressman and governor of Indiana. She said he had “constantly supported” calls for an end to Tehran’s regime and “clearly fraudulent elections and decades of oppression”.
Pence said the cause the Iranian resistance is dedicated to “is freedom” and the world “must never be silent.” He criticized former President Barack Obama and Biden for only reluctantly backing the call for justice ‘against the tyrannical rulers of Iran’ following the massacre of Iranian civilians in a popular uprising in the country in 2009.
“As we witnessed this horror, I said at the time that we were witnessing a ‘Tiananmen in Tehran,'” Pence said, referring to the June 1989 civil protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. , against the Chinese communist leaders.
When President Donald Trump was in power, he added, US authorities stood with the Iranian people and “took action” to confront the regime’s violence.
He criticized Obama and Biden’s inaction and said, “Under the Trump-Pence administration, I am proud that Americans have not turned a deaf ear to the calls of the Iranian people. We have not remained silent in the face of the Iranian regime’s countless atrocities. We stood with freedom-loving Iranians.
Pence said he and Trump were determined “never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”
He added: “I came here today simply to say that we unequivocally stand with the people of Iran. One of the biggest lies the ruling regime has sold to the world is that there is no alternative to the status quo. But there is an alternative – a well organized, fully prepared, fully qualified and popularly supported alternative.
“And let me thank Maryam Rajavi and everyone gathered here at Ashraf-3 for bringing hope to your people in Iran. Your resistance units, your commitment to democracy, human rights and freedom for every citizen are a vision for a free Iran and an inspiration to the world.
“The regime in Tehran wants the world to believe that the Iranian protesters also want to return to the Shah’s dictatorship. (But) Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point plan for the future of Iran will guarantee freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom for every Iranian to choose their elected leaders. It is a foundation on which to build the future of a free Iran.
The MEK has worked to establish an underground network of resistance inside Iran that engages in efforts to challenge the regime and its oppression.
His sources in Iran have helped reveal Tehran’s continued efforts to develop a nuclear weapon, despite the regime’s claims that it wants to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Also known as the nuclear deal Iran, the deal was designed to prevent the regime from pursuing a nuclear weapon in exchange for sanctions relief. Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed the sanctions. Talks in Vienna on a US return to the JCPOA remain deadlocked.
The Iranian resistance moved to Albania in 2016 after leaving Iraq, where it had built Camp Ashraf-1 and Camp Ashraf-2. They are called “Ashraf” in honor of Ashraf Rajavi, a renowned MEK official who was a political prisoner under the Shah’s regime and killed by the Iranian regime in 1982.
Ashraf-3 features huge white buildings, as well as memorials to the thousands of dissidents killed over the years, including the Eternal Flame of Freedom for Iran’s Rights and the Resistance Museum. The streets are lined with reminders of Iran’s freedom struggle, including numerous green, red and white flags and other decorations.