Speech Iraanse mensenrechtenvereniging

Hieronder volgt een toespraak die ik kort geleden hield voor de Iraanse Vereniging voor Democratie, Kunst en Cultuur. Een stukje hiervan werd uitgezonden vlak voor het journaal van een Iraans televisiestation. Had ik geweten dat die toespraak voor 100 man, finaal uitgezonden (ondertiteld en gedupt) zou worden vlak voor het journaal op een Iraans televisiestation, voor enkele miljoenen kijkers, dan had ik misschien wat meer moeite gedaan om mijn haar goed te leggen, dat in de storm van vorige week scheef kwam te liggen. Het is wel een goed bewijs van de kracht van het woord, Iraniërs hebben nog nooit van Van Rompuy gehoord. Klik hier om het fragment te bekijken.

“An injustice done anywhere,

threatens justice everywhere”

Every young man has an idol. So do I. I even have several.

One of them is Tony Blair, because to me he is the greatest oratorical talent of his generation. There’s one of his speeches which I like in particular. It’s one he gave at the end of his 10-year’s term as Britain’s Prime Minister. I would like to quote the following phrases from that speech:

“In 1997 the challenges we faced were essentially British. Today they are essentially global.

The world today is a vast reservoir of potential opportunity … But with these opportunities comes huge insecurity.

10 years ago, energy wasn’t on the agenda.

Immigration hardly raised.

Terrorism meant the IRA.

Not any more.

We used to feel we could shut our front door on the problems and conflicts of the wider world. Not any more.

Not when suicide bombers born and bred in Britain bring carnage to the streets of London. In the name of religion …

The question today is different to the one we faced in 1997.

It is how … to be open and secure.”

In these three words he summarizes the biggest political challenge my generation faces: “How to be open and secure.” That is why I am here today.

I am here today not only out of sympathy for the people who give me the opportunity to speech here before you today.

Not only out of care for human rights in Iran.

However also because the problems you face in Iran, are essentially also our problems.

Because your struggle, is our struggle.

Because your pain and your victory, are our pain and our victory.

In the sixties, Martin Luther King already stated that “An injustice done anywhere, threatens justice everywhere”. He could not have assumed back then how much truth there would be in his words today.

News coverage on Iran reaches us almost daily. Most of it concerns the violation of human rights and the refusal of international surveillance of its nuclear program. Due to this coverage, Iran and parts of the Middle-East have become synonyms to many Western people for Islamic fundamentalism. We know this is not correct. Iran is different and deserves better.

The voice of the democratic, moderate and reasonable Iranians is already loud, however not loud enough. That’s why we are here today. To raise awareness about the struggle of all democratic Iranians who fight for their freedom, and indirectly also our freedom.

We are here together to remind all that Iran is different from the coverage we are mostly exposed to. To remind all that Iran once was different. When it was still called “Mesopotamia” it was ‘the craddle of our civilisation’. And during the dark periods of our Western Middle Ages, it was the Islamic world which was at the world’s pinnacle in science and culture.

Together we will try to give the Iranian people the opportunity to show its true face to the world, a democratic, peaceful and reasonable one.

To this challenge I wish to collaborate. I studied half a year in South-Africa. Since then, Mandela is one of my other idols. He stated that “the support of the international community is more powerful than a fleet of jets.” Well, you can count on my voice, on my word, on my jet, even though it is probably the smallest jet in your already impressive, international fleet.

A globalized world has many advantages too. Thanks to modern communication technologies, no one can close his eyes for the violation of human rights in Iran.

Globalization entails that a purely internal war does no longer exist. The support of the international community is essential for democracy and human rights to prevail. However, victory still stands or falls with the struggle of the Iranians in Iran itself.

Therefore, I wish not only to express my support to your struggle. Moreover, I wish to thank all Iranians fighting for their human rights and democracy. Know that we are aware that you also struggle for our rights and our freedom here. Remember that we are grateful for your courage and persistence.

I have a third political idol, Martin Luther King. King had a dream. So do I. I even have several, of which 4 for Iran.

I am a jurist. And as a jurist, I have a dream of an Iran where no one is above the law, and no one is below the law.

As a politician, I have a dream of an Iranian option for democracy.

As a young man, I have a dream that all young Iranian men, women and students may taste the sweetness of freedom in their lifetime.

As a traveler, a backpacker, I have a dream, that one day, we will enjoy together a nice cocktail – or a cup of tea, if you wish – overlooking the Caspian sea, on one of the beaches in a free, democratic, equal and hopeful Iran.

Finally and most importantly I want to support all young Iranian students in their struggle for freedom, standing up for their rights. Remember that freedom always wins!

I thank you.

Peter Van Rompuy (°1980, Brussels)

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