Statement by Kenneth Timmerman

Executive Director - Foundation for Democracy inIran

Conference on Human Rights inIran

Sponsored by MEHR Iran (Mission for theEstablishment of Human Rights in Iran)

May 22, 2000 - Glenmont, California

For nearly three years, many Iranians and many here in the Westhave looked to President Khatami as the vehicle of change. Theyforgot one crucial thing: he remains a mullah.

Today, the situation inside Iran is even worse than it was whenKhatami came to power in August 1997. Instead of tracking downdissidents around the world, the regime now feels empowered to killthem on Iranian soil..

You are all aware of the events of recent months: the closure ofmost reformist newspapers and the jailing of investigative reporterssuch as Akbar Ganji; the show trial of Iranian Jews in Shiraz; theabsurd interference - once again! - by the Council of Guardians inthe Majlis elections. Haven't we been here before? Haven't we seenall of this before many, many times?

I believe the lesson is clear: there can be no meaningful changeuntil the people of Iran break the yoke of the clericaldictatorship!

As many of you know, I ran for the United States Senate in thestate of Maryland in the Republican primary earlier this year.Although I was unsuccessful, I made a point of raising the issue ofhuman rights in Iran - and in China, I might add - during thecampaign. I believe it is important to tell the truth, and to call aspade a spade.

America should NOT be providing succor and support to the clericaldictatorship in Iran. Period.

We should not allow U.S. oil companies to build oil and gaspipelines across Iran, as some people would like to see.

We must enforce the D'Amato bill, which seeks to deter foreigncompanies from investing in Iran's oil and gas industry but is aimedultimately at preventing the U.S. oil industry from becoming themullah's Washington lobbyist.

But even more important, I believe: We must provide moral,political, and financial support to democrats inside Iran who aretrying to change the regime. Yes: we should do what the mullahsaccuse us of doing. And we should do it well, because the people ofIran want freedom.

Just as President Reagan knew we could roll back communism in the1980s, I tell you today, I know we can roll back the darkness ofradical Islamic fundamentalism at the dawn of this new century.


Some people in this country, including many Iranian-Americans,want to turn the page and let bygones be bygones.

I believe that is a dangerous misreading of history. You cannotjust sweep under the rug 21 years of human rights abuses, torture,murder, war, and devastation. Young Iranians, like their parents,yearn to be free!

Iran Asset Recovery Act

During my United States Senate campaign, I pledged that ifelected I would introducelegislation that will require the government of Iran to assistIranians in recovering property that was illegally siezed during theRevolution, before there can be any resumption of diplomatic tiesbetween the United States and the Islamic Republic. Just asCuban-Americans have the Helms-Burton law to give them hope,Iranian-Americans will have the Timmerman law to give them hope -hope that one day they will be able to return freely to their homecountry, without fear and without compromise.

You can accomplish this. Together, we can accomplish this. And soI urge you to get involved in the American political process, and tosupport candidates who embrace freedom and make the respect for humanrights a sacred cause, candidates who make America's voice heard asthe beacon of hope it used to be, not the siren song of trade andinstant riches and wantonness. If we stand for nothing we will fall,collapsing like an empty skeleton into so much dust.

God bless you. And God bless this America which has given us allthe opportunity to be together in peace.