supporters convened in Brussels on Saturday to protest the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses towards its own people and its terrorist activities abroad and to ask for the international community’s support as the Iranian people struggle for a free Iran.
The rally was attended by MEK
supporters and members of the Iranian diaspora and included speeches from prominent European dignitaries, representatives from the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and human rights activists. NCRI President Maryam Rajavi gave the keynote address, Iranian singer Gisoo Shakeri performed, and the rally concluded with a march in Central Brussels.
The following are some highlights from Saturday’s event:
Struan Stevenson, former Member of European Parliament from Scotland and Coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change:
welcomed those attending the rally and expressed his support for the Iranian Resistance, saying, “We stand shoulder to shoulder with the MEK
because our objectives are the same.”
Mark Demesmaeker, Member of European Parliament from Belgium:
Mark Demesmaeker spoke strongly in support of the Iranian Resistance, noting that there was support for the movement among Belgian lawmakers across the political spectrum. He said, “Despite our differences, we all support a free and democratic Iran.”
Demesmaeker also listed the steps that the European Union must take to deal with the Iranian regime: “We call for the expulsion of all Iranian terrorist diplomats from European soil. We also demand that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, as well as the Iranian Intelligence Ministry, be put on European terrorist blacklist. This is a minimum requirement for our safety and the security of Europe.”
Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former Vice-President of European Parliament:
Alejo Vidal-Quadras called on the EU to condemn the Iranian regime for its human rights violations.
He also spoke about his visit to MEK
members in Camp Ashraf in Iraq, saying, “Eleven years ago, I had the honor and privilege of visiting the MEK
residents in Ashraf 1 [Camp Ashraf
], who were then transferred to Ashraf 2 [Camp Liberty] and are now in Ashraf 3, Albania. I will never forget this visit. They are examples for all of us, and by sacrificing everything they had, they gave meaning to our lives.”
Vidal-Qadras stressed the importance of confronting the regime’s demonization campaign against the MEK
. He said, “The regime’s agents are running a campaign of demonization against the MEK. We have to confront this, and this is a part of our campaign for human rights.”
Maryam Rajavi, NCRI President-elect:
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi gave the keynote address. She emphasized that the Iranian people desire the overthrow of the Iranian regime.
“For the people of Iran, however, there is no difference between black turbans [Supreme Leader Khamenei] and white turbans [regime President Hassan Rouhani and his faction]. They want the overthrow of the entire regime and they cry out, ‘Our enemy is right here,” she said.
Mrs. Rajavi stated that the regime demonizes the MEK
to preserve its power, saying, “By demonizing the Mojahedin, the regime seeks to arrange the scene such that everyone concludes that the clerical regime is better and is what the Iranian people deserve. So, they would be better off to give up resistance and continue their life in misery.”
Finally, Mrs. Rajavi urged the EU to take action against the Iranian regime: “We call on the European Union to impose comprehensive sanctions on the theocratic regime ruling Iran and to designate the mullahs’ Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] and their Ministry of Intelligence [MOIS] as terrorist entities. The regime’s mercenaries must be tried, punished and expelled,” she said.
Françoise Schepmans, Member of Parliament from Belgium:
Françoise Schepmans discussed the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses against women and the importance of women in the Iranian Resistance movement. She said that Belgian Parliament recently passed a bill in support of the rights of Iranian women.
Schepmans concluded: “I am waiting for the day when we can see a free Iran, and I would like to thank you for your tenacity, for your actions, and for your presence here today.”
Giulio Terzi, Former Italian Foreign Minister:
Giulio Terzi described current political conditions in Iran and the growing protest movement.
“Political conditions in Iran, especially in the past year, since the great uprising of the end of 2017, have changed profoundly. The regime is approaching its final end. The people are suffering greatly from economic conditions and lack of freedom. But their protests and demonstrations continue every day with enormous courage and sacrifice. They are growing larger every day,” he said.
Terzi explained that the NCRI and the MEK offer a viable democratic alternative to the Iranian regime. He said: “The PMOI [MEK] and NCRI, the main force of opposition against this regime, are advancing every day. Yet still some in Europe pretend there’s no alternative to the regime. That is absolutely wrong. There is a viable alternative. It is the National Council of Resistance of Iran.”
“All the criteria needed for an alternative are in the NCRI and in Mrs. Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point plan,” he added.
Terzi discussed the ways that the regime uses propaganda to demonize the NCRI and MEK
. “To counter the alternative represented by Mrs. Rajavi, the regime tries to fill cyberspace with fake news which sells a totally false idea about the wishes of the Iranian population,” he said.
Terzi emphasized that the regime’s narrative was false and that the EU must not fall for their misinformation. “The European Union must blacklist Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) as a terrorist organization and expel all the Iranian regime’s diplomats,” he said.
Ingrid Betancourt, former Colombian Senator and Presidential candidate:
Ingrid Betancourt referred to the attempted bombing of last year’s Free Iran rally by a regime diplomat in her speech. “What is dangerous is not confronting the regime, it is dangerous for the EU to continue to be on its knees in front of the Iranian regime. What is dangerous is that the EU is terrified to bring to justice and condemn the Iranian regime’s diplomat-terrorist who was trying to kill thousands of people at the MEK’s Free Iran rally in Paris last June.”
Prof. Eric David, Professor Emeritus of International Law at the Université libre de Bruxelles:
Prof. David used his speech to talk about the 1988 Massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, most of whom were MEK members, and the tens of thousands of executions of MEK members that have been carried out by the regime without consequence before and since then.
“Some 120,000 activists of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) have been executed by Iran’s regime since 1981 for political and religious reasons. The perpetrators of this crime should be tried, and I hope that this will happen soon,” he said.
Sarvnaz Chitsaz, NCRI Women’s Committee Chair:
Sarvnaz Chitsaz enumerated the demands of the Iranian Resistance to the international community. She stated:
“The EU must denounce the regime’s human rights violations..and it must form an international delegation to visit Iran’s prisons,” she began.
“We demand the expulsion of the Iranian regime’s..embassies as centers of espionage against Iranian refugees and opponents,” she went on.
“We have repeatedly called for the international community to designate the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) on the blacklist..especially in light of recent attacks in Gulf waters,” Chitsaz added.
Haitham Maleh, Syrian human rights activist and former judge:
Haitham Maleh spoke strongly about the Iranian regime’s involvement in the bloody war in Syria and its role in regional instability.
“The Syrian regime is imprisoning and torturing prisoners with the blessing of the Iranian regime.
“They want to burn the whole region to the ground. They think no one can stop them. The revolutionary forces of the region must come together against the regime. We in Syria are in favor of the Resistance and against the regime which is using religion as a facade. We need to see the downfall of the Iranian regime if we want stability in the region.
Prior to this regime, there was stability in the region. Since the arrival of the Iranian regime, there has been chaos..Iran created terrorism.”
Pierre Galand, former President of the European Branch of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT):
Pierre Galand expressed support for the Iranian Resistance and their goal of establishing a free and democratic Iran.
“We’re here to tell the EU that it must respect its principles and support the resistance in Iran against the mullahs’ tyranny,” he said.
“We’ll stand hand in hand with the Iranian people in order to liberate Iran and free Iran from the dictatorship and move toward democracy. We are at your side. We also believe that the solution that needs to see the light of day is the complete downfall of the regime.”
Gisoo Shakeri, Iranian singer:
Gisoo Shakeri delivered a performance for attendees at the rally. Women are forbidden from singing in public in Iran and can face severe penalties for performances like Shakeri’s.