Chicago: Former US Vice President Mike Pence visited the headquarters of Iran’s main opposition movement in Tirana, Albania, on Thursday, where he paid tribute to those killed by the Iranian regime and the continued efforts of resistance.
He also denounced President Joe Biden and his policies for “revealing” Tehran’s support for terrorism and progress made in undermining its efforts to develop nuclear weapons.
Pence was addressing more than 2,000 people in the packed hall of the Ashraf-3 camp. It is home to about 3,000 members of the People’s Mojahideen Organization of Iran, also known as the MEK. Iranian dissidents gather there every year in support of the struggle to “liberate” Iran from the “tyranny and cruelty” of its ruling Ayatollah.
“I have traveled more than 5,000 miles to be here today, from my home in Indiana, because we share a common cause: the liberation of the Iranian people from decades of tyranny, and a free, peaceful, prosperous and democratic Iran. The reincarnation of. Pence told the audience.
“This is the first time I have visited Albania since completing my term as Vice President of the United States. While I no longer speak on behalf of the US government, I speak with confidence about the views of millions of Americans. And I can say to everyone gathered here, including many of my fellow Americans, that the American people are with you as you stand and labor for freedom in Iran.
Maryam Rajavi, elected chair of Iran’s National Resistance Council, an affiliate of the MEK, welcomed Pence to the camp.
“Three days ago began the 42nd year of our nationwide resistance to the mullahs’ rule,” she said. “On June 20, 1981, (Ayatollah) Khomeini ordered his Revolutionary Guards to open fire on the MEK’s half-million-strong, and peaceful, demonstration in Tehran, turning it into a mass murder.
“The same night, without the victims being identified, the mass executions began. Moments earlier, in the Museum of the Resistance, you saw a glimpse of the suffering of the Iranian people under the rule of the mullahs and their resistance against the regime. A thousand political prisoners tortured by the dictatorship are present in this hall today. Some have lost 10 or 12 family members.”
Rajavi thanked Pence for his support not only as vice president, but also as a member of Congress and governor of Indiana. She said she has “relentlessly supported” the end of the regime in Tehran and “decades of frankly fraudulent elections and persecution”.
Pence said the Iranian resistance devoted itself to “freedom” and that the world “should never remain silent.” He criticized former presidents Barack Obama and Biden for reluctantly supporting calls for justice “against Iran’s tyrannical leaders” following the 2009 massacre of Iranian civilians during a popular uprising in the country.
“As we saw that horror, I said at the time that we were seeing ‘Tiananmen in Tehran’,” Pence said, referring to the June 1989 civilian protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square against the Communist rulers of China.
When President Donald Trump was in office, he said, US officials stood with the people of Iran and took “action” to confront the regime’s violence.
He criticized the inaction of Obama and Biden, saying: “Under the Trump-Pence administration, I am proud that Americans did not heed the arguments of the Iranian people. We have not remained silent in the face of the countless atrocities of the Iranian regime. We stand with the freedom-loving people in Iran.”
Pence said both he and Trump were determined to “never allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”
He continued: “I am here today only to say that we clearly stand on the side of the Iranian people. One of the biggest lies the ruling regime has sold the world is that there is no alternative to the status quo. No. But there is an alternative – a well-organized, well-crafted, fully-qualified and popularly supported alternative.
“And I thank Maryam Rajavi and all those who gathered here at Ashraf-3 to give hope to your people in Iran. Your resistance units, commitment to democracy, human rights and freedom for every citizen is an independent A vision for Iran and an inspiration for the world.
“The regime in Tehran is trying to trick the world into believing that the Iranian protesters want to return to the Shah’s dictatorship as well. (But) Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point plan for the future of Iran will ensure freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom for every Iranian to choose the leaders he or she chooses. It is the foundation for building the future of an independent 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.
Its sources inside Iran have helped highlight Tehran’s continued efforts to develop a nuclear weapon, despite the regime’s claim it seeks to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Action Plan. Also known as the Iran nuclear deal, the agreement was designed to deter the regime from pursuing nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief. Trump withdrew the US from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions. Talks in Vienna on the withdrawal of the US to the JCPOA remain deadlocked.
The Iranian resistance moved to Albania in 2016 after leaving Iraq, where they built Ashraf-1 and Ashraf-2 camps. He is called “Ashraf” in honor of Ashraf Rajawi, a famous MEK officer who was a political prisoner under Shah’s regime and was killed by the Iranian regime in 1982.
Ashraf-3 features towering white buildings, as well as memorials to thousands of dissidents killed over the years, including the Eternal Flame of Freedom and the Museum of Resistance for Iran’s rights. The streets are filled with reminders of Iran’s fight for independence, including many green, red and white flags and other decorations.