On March 20, 2023, a significant demonstration took place in Brussels, coinciding with the E.U. Foreign Affairs Council meeting. In the grand rally organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), thousands of Iranians gathered to demand the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.
The IRGC is believed to be the main tool used by the Iranian regime to suppress nationwide protests. This rally took place during the Iranian New Year, Nowruz, and participants carried the Iranian flag with the lion and sun emblem while chanting, “Blacklist IRGC now!” The protesters urged the E.U. to adopt a clear policy against the mullahs’ regime’s terrorist activities, blackmail, and hostage-taking.
The rally featured European and American dignitaries, as well as members of the Belgian parliament, who addressed the participants. Iranian activists provided theatrical performances and an extensive street exhibition to highlight the cause.
At the start of the rally, a multitude of Iranians paraded through the streets of Brussels, voicing slogans urging European policymakers to implement a resolute approach in combatting terrorism and the mullahs’ regime’s blackmail tactics. They called for practical measures to be taken against the regime’s heinous crimes committed against the Iranian people. After the procession, the protesters congregated to hear from notable speakers who had joined the demonstration.
Excerpts of the remarks of the speakers at the rally are as follows:
Latifa Aït Baala, Member of the Brussels Parliament
The people of Iran have been deprived of the freedom we enjoy today. It has been confiscated by the mullahs’ regime. And we’ve gathered here to reclaim this freedom.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Mrs. Rajavi. She is a tireless leader who has continued her fight for several decades. I know how hard it is for women to fight against tyranny. I salute her steadfastness and all women who fight alongside her in the PMOI.
The uprising against the regime continues today. This movement started with the struggle against the shah’s dictatorship. The people of Iran don’t want tyranny. The regime is a danger to its own people as well as a threat to peace and stability across the globe.
The regime’s policies must be condemned. It suppresses not only its own people, but also takes other nationals as hostages to use as bargaining chips. Some of these activities have been exposed. Fortunately, the UN is taking steps to adopt a firm policy against this regime and to include the name of the IRGC on the list of terrorist organizations. A recent resolution by the European Parliament and the Belgian Parliament called for the black-listing of the IRGC.
Senator Robert Torricelli
Allow me to properly introduce myself. I am a volunteer, like you in the army, for freedom in Iran. We are global. We are housewives, we are businesspeople, we are students, we are Americans. We are Germans, we are French, and we are Iranians. And we are committed to one thing, that the Iranian people enjoy the fruits of their prosperity. That they live a free life. That Iran rejoined the family of nations as a democratic republic, that unites us all.
We meet today as this 40-year struggle reaches its final months. You can feel the energy, you can see the future. It’s coming and it’s coming quickly. And as we approach the day of reckoning for the mullahs and their tyrannical regime, we only ask this of the international community. To our friends in the EU, close to our side, to those in America and Canada and throughout the world, we ask this: Be on the right side of history. Be on the side of the Iranian people, not of the mullahs. Be on the side of freedom, not short-term economic opportunity. Be on the side where you can be proud that at this decisive moment in the history of the Iranian people, you stood with the Iranian people in the fight for their freedom.
There are already heroes throughout the world in this struggle: The Government of Albania which stood strong in bringing refugees from Ashraf; the police in France and Belgium and Germany which protected us from their terrorists; the government of France, which has harbored the Iranian leadership, there are heroes throughout the world. We asked you only this. Stand firm, Stand Strong. Do not cower. Close their embassies. Declare them to be the terrorists that they are.
To the Iranian people, we only asked this: do not cower, do not hesitate, the future is in your hands. The students, the shopkeepers, and the workers. You’re regaining your freedom every day. There is nothing in history that dictates that being Iranian means you must be poor, or you must be enslaved, and you cannot live a free life. You are entitled to what every person in Europe or the Americas or Asia is entitled to. You are entitled to a good life. You are earning it. It is in your hands. Do not give up now.
And finally, to the Iranian Diaspora, wherever you may be around the world, let us be honest. In every revolution, as the train is leaving the station, there are always those who get on late and hold on to the caboose. That’s OK. Everyone is welcome. Whether you were with us for 40 years or four days, the new Iran has a place for everyone, with only one condition: We are not fighting, we have not fought all these years to exchange one dictator for another dictator. The new Iran will be free.
If you believe in Mrs. Rajavi’s ten-point plan, a republic of gender equality, a non-nuclear Iran, Iran at peace, an Iran that does not execute or persecuted people, a democratic free Iran, if these are your principles, whether you are always with us or you’ve never been with us, but you join us now, you are welcome. We are the same. We are a free Iran, welcome aboard.
We are not fighting simply to replace their government with a new government, even if it is a free government. We are fighting to build a new future. Those who will lead this future will bring what we have brought to this struggle. We have succeeded as an organization, the MEK, after all the death and destruction, all the fighting, because of their leadership, focus, determination, and resources.
There is no one who can reach around this globe to get the resources to rebuild a country that has been destroyed after 40 years of oppression. There is no one that can bring the skill, the organization, the unity, the Iranian people, that Mrs. Rajavi and the MEK can bring to Tehran. We won the revolution, we’re winning the revolution, but we will also win peace and build a new country.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
Greetings to you and all the dignitaries and supporters of the Iranian Resistance who are present in this rally, Mr. Patrick Kennedy and Senator Torricelli,
Dear compatriots and brave supporters of the Iranian Resistance, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to you all and all protesters on the occasion of Nowruz and the beginning of the Persian New Year 1402.
In step with the Iranian protesters who turned the streets into battlefields, you have brought your celebration, fight, and uprising to the streets of Brussels in the heart of Europe. You have created a beautiful tradition for the upcoming year for all Iranians and freedom lovers devoted to the freedom of the Iranian people and global peace and security.
I salute you, members, and sympathizers of the Resistance. Your fight and your celebration go hand in hand, and together they represent a loud outcry against the mullahs’ oppressive regime.
Similar to struggle and resistance, the spirit of these traditions is innovation and prosperity, transformation and rebellion against darkness, and nurturing all human values.
Through your sacrifices and your unwavering commitment to the cause of freedom, you have become the torchbearers of Iran’s national traditions and linked them with the popular resistance, creating powerful scenes that highlight your determination to defeat the ruling mullahs. And that is what you have done today.
Your message is clear: Iran’s social and political spring and Nowruz can only blossom through struggle and uprising.
You began the New Year with protests and rebellion against Khamenei’s criminal regime. And you have come together to establish the will of the Iranian people: to urge the European Union to designate Khamenei’s ruthless Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist entity.
Through your persistent and glorious rallies, marches, and demonstrations in support of the Iran uprising and a democratic republic, you have conveyed the voice of the Iranian people to the world in the past month. From Paris to Munich, from the International Women’s Day conference in Brussels to the march and summit in Washington, D.C., and your rally today, you have made it clear what the main goals and slogans of the Iranian people are.
In doing so, you have defeated the conspiracies and schemes by the regime and its apologists abroad.
In the year 1401 and especially in the second half of it, with an impressive capacity through a tireless and continuous campaign, and in step with protesters and defiant youths inside Iran, you made the slogan of “Death to the oppressor, be it the Shah or the Leader” global. This slogan blocks the path to tyranny and dependency.
Through your efforts, you have made it clear that the nationalistic and historical demarcation of “no shah, no mullah” is the inviolable red line of the Iranian Resistance, which all of you staunchly defend.
I salute you courageous supporters of the Iranian Resistance for your unwavering efforts.
Patrick Kennedy, Former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
Thank you, Madam Rajavi, for your leadership, allowing us to all get behind the ten-point plan for a new Iran. It’s not enough just to be against the mullahs. It’s not enough just to have fought against the Shah. A military dictatorship is just like a religious dictatorship, and with Madam Rajavi, we will have a democratic republic of Iran.
Today we must stand up to fascism, the torture chambers, and the death squads of another Nazi regime. Make no mistake. The IRGC is nothing more than a modern Gestapo.
Europe and the United States and countries around the world stood up against Adolf Hitler because he was a threat to democracy and freedom all around the world. And today, we are seeing that same fight from the people of Iran, but also people from around the world, to stand up against the mullahs’ brutal dictatorship. We must understand that this is not merely an Iranian issue. This is a world human rights issue. I may not be from Tehran. But I am standing with all of those in Iran who want the same freedom that I enjoy in the United States.
I cannot begin to imagine what it is like for every mother and father, every grandmother and grandfather in Iran who watches their children go out each day to the streets demanding a free country. They must be worried every single day whether their children will be taken, tortured, killed, and even hung like the Iranian regime is doing to its people every day.
Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism around the world, and it is the largest sponsor of terrorism to its own people in Iran as well.
The IRGC is a tool of the mullahs, just as the embassy here in Brussels, in Germany, and in Austria is nothing more than an arm of the mullahs’ dictatorship. We must make sure that the courts here in Belgium do not allow Assadi to go back to Iran, yet he should remain in jail here in Belgium.
Everybody in the Iranian regime is part of the history of brutality. Even President Raisi only became president because he murdered. He was on the Death Commission in 1988 which was responsible for the murder of 30,000 MEK members who were fighting for freedom in Iran. Raisi was there to pull the trigger and hang the nooses and kill 30,000 MEK members.
Do you want to know why it was so difficult for Iran to build a new resistance movement after the Shah was deposed? It was because the Shah killed so many MEK and resistance fighters. So, when we have a new Iran that is coming very soon, it only makes sense that the organization that has been protesting longer and stronger than any other freedom group can begin to build a new future because they have the legitimacy of having been in the fight and having died for the struggle for a free Iran.
You may ask, why is it that Americans, Canadians, and people from all over the world are supporting you, the Iranian people? The reason we are supporting you is that we are you. We want the same freedom for you as you want for yourselves.
I want to say a particular word about our friends, the Ashrafis, who have fought that struggle, on behalf of the whole world, because through their struggle they brought attention to the struggle of Maryam Rajavi and the resistance movement. Thank God to the Ashrafis for all that you have done.
Mark Demesmaeker, Member of the Belgian Senate
The people of Iran have shown the whole world that they want regime change, that they reject the current religious dictatorship of the mullahs and that they don’t want to go back to a dictatorship of the Shah. This regime in Iran is a threat to the security of Europe. The mullahs are actively engaged in the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The regime is the number one sponsor of terrorism in the world. It uses its embassies here in Europe and its so-called diplomats for terrorism against us, against its opponents, and especially the main opposition PMOI.
The European Union and its member states must take a firm position against the Iranian regime by designating the IRGC in the terrorist list of the European Union. What are they waiting for?
We must stand up against terrorism of the Iranian regime strongly, because if we show any weakness, any kind of weakness, the mullahs will become even more aggressive. Freedom and democracy and human rights and independence die when people give up fighting for them, when the free world appeases dictators and aggressors.
History also shows that dictators eventually fall when the free world stands up to its principles, when free people do not give up and when the free world is united in supporting them, and that’s what we must do. Freedom will prevail, dictators will fall.
Els Ampe, Member of the Belgian Senate
Let us celebrate the hope for freedom. Let us celebrate the courage of Iranian women who have shown the world that the human spirit can never be broken. Mahsa Amini, your name will live on.
Let us celebrate the opposition manifesting against the mullahs, who bring us nothing but fear and death. Dear Sisters of Ashraf 3 in Albania, your fight will bring democracy. Mrs. Rajavi, thank you. Thank you for standing up for gender equality, for freedom of speech, for the separation between religion and state, and for economic freedom for all Iranians.
Thanks to the opposition. Democracy is within reach. And when a democratic republic is an option, why should anyone choose a tyranny or a monarchy? Down with the dictator, long left democracy. The time for freedom is now.
Françoise Schepmans, Member of the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region
The people of Iran want freedom to choose their religion, their clothing, and freedom of expression. This demonstration is for the achievement of freedom and democracy and to overthrow the mullahs’ regime which suppresses the rights of its people.
Mrs. Rajavi is the voice of women fighting for democracy. We demand the blacklisting of the IRGC on behalf of the people we represent.
We wish a secular democratic republic for Iran in the new year.
Gissoo Shakeri, Iranian artist
The mullahs can’t suppress the uprising. They don’t know that those who are in the streets are chanting we will not surrender. They are determined to continue their struggle and uprising. The people are chanting death to the dictator, whether it be the Shah or the supreme leader.
We will continue our efforts until the IRGC is put on the terror list.
Manel Msalmi, international affairs advisor at the European Parliament, Président of MRBxlville Women, President of EADM
I would like to express my gratitude and all my support to my Belgian friends, activists here from Iranian descent for all the job, all the hard work they are doing to raise awareness regarding the situation of women in Iran. I would also like to support my Iranian sisters and support the Iranian Resistance.
The people of Iran have paid a heavy price for their freedom. We must support them and let them know that you, Europe and the international community do care about human rights, about their freedom, about a democratic, secular republic that respects human and women’s rights.
I strongly condemn the poisoning of girls at schools, which is clearly an attempt of the regime to silence young women and girls and to make them stop it. But these young women fearlessly stood up and protested the brutal dictatorship. They reject any form of dictatorship. They called for the establishment of a democratic and secular republic, and that’s why we had slogans in the streets, calling for neither shah nor mullahs. All Iranian people are calling for a democratic, secular, and independent republic.
It is no coincidence that women have such an active role in the protest in Iran for a secular and democratic republic. It is four decades of struggle, led by the Iranian democratic opposition and Mrs. Rajavi.
Mrs. Rajavi’s marks to the Belgian Parliament are really striking: No to forced government, nor to forced religion, and no to forced hijab. It is a clear message that women decide for themselves.
We must be firm with the regime against the repression of the Iranian people, against terrorism in the Middle East, and against the policy of hostage taking and blackmail.
Here I would like to show my solidarity with the families of the victims of people who are hostages now in Iran, from the Ahvazis to the Kurdish people, to all the people who have are now victims and are being held as hostages, and risk death.
Following the recent uprisings, we passed a resolution here in the Belgian Parliament calling for the Revolutionary Guards to be added on the EU terrorist list. And the European Parliament is trying to do the same sanctioning.
I really hope that this new year will bring freedom, democracy, and justice.
Mehdi Same, Spokesman for the Iranian People’s Fedayian Organization and NCRI Industry Committee Chair
Long live the memory of the martyrs of the revolution. In the last day of the Iranian year, we can smell the spring of freedom, which will come. We are striving for freedom along with the people of Iran.
I hope that we will celebrate the next Nowruz across Iran.
The Fedayee Guerillas Organization announced the new revolution with the state-sanctioned murder of Mahsa Amini. As Khamenei was grooming his son to succeed him, the people of Iran chanted Mahsa Amini’s name as the new face of the revolution.
This revolution will be the celebration of the oppressed. We will stand side by side and realize the dreams of our people.
Khamenei is using all his tricks and agents to suppress the revolution. The regime and its proponents claim the revolution and the movement has died. Any person who is willing to listen will hear the voice of the people during the Fire Festival protests, the slogans people chanted at the graves of the martyrs at the end of the year, and the chants of Baluchis every Friday.
The people of Iran have the right to live in democracy and freedom. This is the duty of the Iranian people and the Resistance Units to achieve it. We don’t demand any state to do this for us. We are against foreign intervention. Our only demand is for the international community to respect UN and human rights principles and stop aiding the regime and their suppressive apparatus. The IRGC must be listed as a terrorist organization.
Baba Sheikh Hosseini, Secretary General of the Iranian Kurdistan’s Khebat Organization
We are here to raise our voice against the regime and the remnants of the Shah’s regime. The people of Kurdistan and Baluchestan have been in the streets for six months. They are sacrificing their lives to achieve their rights, to put an end to tyranny, as they did in 1979, and put an end to the shah’s dictatorship forever. They said at the time that there was no way for the monarchial dictatorship to return.
After the death of Mahsa, the people of Kurdistan, men and women, sacrificed their lives for freedom. The Khebat Organization and its supporters in Iran align with the people of Iran and align with their struggle. Recently, the regime killed one of our members in Iran. We honor his memory.
Our organization has been fighting this struggle and has been on the side of the people. In this struggle, we have cooperated with the MEK and NCRI. Our struggle is legitimate because we are fighting the most criminal regime, a regime whose atrocities are evident across the world. We ask the international community to stop appeasing this regime and to put the IRGC on the terrorist list.
This regime has obviously committed crimes against the people. But the international community must know that this regime is interfering in the affairs of other countries. And as long as it stands, it will continue to pose threats to other countries. In particular, the people of Iraq’s Kurdistan have seen much damage at the hands of this regime.
If the IRGC is not put on the terror list, it will be a disaster for the international community. We ask once again from the European Council to put the IRGC on the terror list, to shut down the regime’s embassies, and to expel its agents.
Aboulghassem Rezaee, Deputy Secretary of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)
You are sending a message to the European Union that dealing with the regime is dealing with the IRGC, the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world.
You are here to say that we will not stop until we have brought down this regime and brought freedom to Iran.
We tell the EU, if you want to side with the people of Iran, you must put the IRGC on the terrorist list. We are telling our people that our new year is the year of freedom and revolution.
As the regime kills children, blinds our youth, sends people to the gallows, and poisons young girls, is it possible to celebrate the new year without thinking about these people? Your resistance movement and the Resistance Units speak of the determination to overthrow the regime. You have raised your voice across the world and made it clear that the mullahs’ regime will be overthrown in a revolution led by women, the main victims of this regime.
This uprising not only shook the core of the regime, but it also revealed the true nature of fake alternatives who were trying to take advantage of the situation to promote a return to the shah dictatorship. They tried to encourage people to stop protesting and to return to their homes. They are
effectively aligning themselves with the mullahs. But the Resistance Units have shown that the only path to freedom is to pay the price and to make sacrifices. The principal policy of “no to shah, no to mullahs” is clearer than ever. This is the main policy of the NCRI and is echoed across Iran by people who want a democratic republic.
At the same time, the so-called defectors of the regime who are choosing the Shah’s son as their representative have left no room for doubt of who they are. The Shah’s son said that people don’t need to go to demonstrations. Western countries should give me their money so that I give it to workers in Iran and this is how we will overthrow the regime.
This is exactly what the commander of the IRGC said. He told people to stop taking to the streets.
And this is why the people of Iran are chanting, “Death to the oppressor, be it the shah or the supreme leader!” We want a democratic republic for our people.
Paulo Casaca, Former member of the European Parliament from Portugal
Let me first take a moment to remember those who fell, the over 750 victims of the present uprising. And so many others that have been cruelly murdered by this regime. Let me also say that we should think about our Iraqi citizen brothers that were murdered by the Iranian regime and its agents in Iraq.
The godfather of all vices is cowardice. This is the cowardice that we have been seeing in these countries that are stepping back, that are making deals for hostages, or for asking Iran not to continue to aggress them. And for over 40 years they should have known this does not work. The mullahs do not respect anything but force and strength. And those who insist on these shameful deals are bound to pay dearly
for them. This applies to everyone, starting here in Belgium, where authorities made the most shameful deal for the diplomat terrorist [Assadollah] Assadi. We would like very much to know the whole of it. What did they trade? What did they promise to the Iranian regime? What are they doing on behalf of this deal? This is something that we shall keep asking them because they are betraying the Belgian people and Europe. Assadi is someone that is on the terrorist list.
But my dear friends, if cowardice is the godfather of all vices, then the courage of the Iranian people, the courage of the girls and women of Iran is the mother of all happiness in the future. The most important respect to the Iranian people, to their courage, to its persistence, and to their unbreakable will to achieve liberation. This is going to be key for the liberation of Iran, and for a better world, for a better region, and for all of us. This is why we have to say put the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in the terrorist list. Do as the European Parliament called for doing.
Serge de Patoul, Former MP from Brussels Parliament and Former Mayor of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre
We must have a firm stance in this struggle. We express our support for all the brave women in this struggle. They are in these protests for their freedom. Their courage is exemplary. We admire them. They are risking everything. For six months, these protests have continued. International authorities must support them in their cause.
The next Iranian state should be a democratic and secular government. We will be able to create an Iran that will be able to establish peace and freedom in the region. My party supports your cause.
Thanks to the sacrifices of the Resistance Units across Iran and the various campaigns of the Iranian Resistance, the fake alternative of Reza Pahlavi has been defeated. It is now clear who is on the people’s side and who is on the side of the dictator. Today, no one has any doubt that this group who are with Reza Pahlavi have no other intention than to divert the revolution. But no one will be deceived anymore.
After months of propaganda, they published their charter, and they have no other intention than to keep the current regime in power, so that the regime will be able to continue its crimes against the people. Reza Pahlavi’s charter is putting its hope in Western countries to support them. It is no surprise to hear that from the son of the criminal Shah, who tortured and killed the people of Iran.
They are disseminating fake slogans to discourage the people from their revolution. But we follow the path of those who sacrificed their lives for Iran.
We continue our struggle on the eve of Nowruz. We express our gratitude to the Resistance Units who have made countless sacrifices to keep the flame of resistance alive. We are proud of you and your ideals and your relentlessness.
In the new year, we join the MEK and the Resistance Units to celebrate the achievements of the Iranian Resistance. We held rallies and demonstrations in many cities, and we chanted the slogan of the people, “Death to the oppressor, be it the shah or the mullahs!” We have unraveled the conspiracies of the mullahs and their allies.
The Iranian Resistance will not accept any obstacle in the path for freedom.