Ingrid Betancourt, Former Senator and Presidential Candidate in 2022 addressed the first day of the Free Iran World Summit on July 1, 2023.
Ingrid Betancourt: Facing Totalitarian Regime, NCRI Is the Only One Remaining Steadfast
The full text of Ingrid Betancourt’s remarks, is as follows:
Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests.
What a great day it is today. A day filled with hope, determination, and the indomitable spirit of resilience. Allow me to begin by extending my heartfelt congratulations to Maryam, a true symbol of courage and unwavering dedication.
Probably many of you don’t know, but 20 years ago, in the face of a shameful deal with the Mullahs, an attempt was made to silence Maryam, to shatter the movement she represents, and to fabricate malicious judicial dossiers filled with baseless allegations and fake charges. 20 years ago, they went as far as to arrest Maryam.
The world vividly remembers that day, 20 years ago. It was the 3rd of July, and Maryam emerged onto these very streets here in Auvers-sur-Oise, greeted by thousands of supporters but also marked by the weight of pain and wounds inflicted upon you, Maryam, and your people. It was a moment, I believe, that signaled the beginning of a new journey. One that would demand relentless efforts and unfathomable sacrifices.
But this year, to hold this event, the Iranian Resistance faced again huge obstacles. The regime has asked France, as Michèle Alliot-Marie was stating, the country of freedom, of democracy, of human rights, asked this government to prevent the holding of this event, and the government succumbed to the Iranian regime’s demands. What a shame.
For me, there’s no other explanation than blackmail. But it was not only the pressure on the French government. Others tried to recommend to dignitaries of their respective countries not to attend under the pretext of security concerns. We can all testify to the pressure on every single one of us to cancel our participation today.
But here we stand today, stronger than ever, united in our pursuit of justice and freedom, and supporting you, Maryam.
Over the past two decades, you have led the way in rebuilding the movement which the Mullahs and their allies thought they have destroyed, a movement that now shines as a beacon of faith and hope for the people of Iran.
In the face of a totalitarian regime, your movement has become the only democratic alternative, the only one, standing steadfast in its commitment to freedom and democracy. All the others have been erased, murdered, and wiped out. You are the only one remaining.
Yes, these 20 years have been filled with moments of triumph. We have celebrated some of them together, but also adversity. Every step forward has been accompanied by immense pain and suffering. Yet, through it all, you, Maryam, have remained resolute, refusing to bow under the pressure of tyranny. Your dedication to the cause has inspired countless others, all of us here, and ignited a fire within all of our hearts that will never be extinguished from now on.
But new generations have also joined you, especially brave Iranian young women, like those who are fighting after the tragic death of Mahsa Amini. And I have to stress that their fight is not only a feminine fight. It’s not about women only. Of course, it’s about women, but it’s not about women. It’s about human dignity for men and women alike.
And all these new generations are fighting for the Ten-Point of your political plan, for a secular, democratic, non-nuclear Iran. And they have embraced it as a rallying cry in the streets of Tehran and other cities all over Iran and outside Iran too like we saw today in Paris. But let us not forget the challenges we have faced in recent times have been hard.
The regime, aided by advocates of appeasement, has sought to create false alternatives, like reviving the ghost of the Shah dictatorship, attempts designed to undermine your independence and your resolve. They have employed, and we know, how many and how every trick possible in the book to dismantle the progress you have made, even terrorist attacks. But yet they have failed because they underestimated the strength and determination of those who stand for justice. And they underestimated you because you were a woman. They underestimated your capacity.
In the past few weeks, we have witnessed another assault on your efforts. The mullahs resorted to hostage diplomacy and blackmail, while the West regrettably gave in once again to the demands of the Iranian regime. We know it was a moment of disappointment and sadness for you, Maryam, as it was for us. But it did not break your resolve, nor ours.
We stand here today undeterred and stronger, ready to face whatever challenges lie ahead. Maryam, you have shown us what it means to be a true leader, a beacon of faith, of hope in the darkest of times. Today we all gathered here to celebrate you, the bright woman, opposing a corrupt and criminal gang of old, crazy, and bloodthirsty men.
We have come in your defense to honor you, recognizing your unwavering spirit, and your tireless effort, and to pledge our total support in the battles that lie ahead. And let me point out that for those of us who have been holding your hand since many years ago, this has been an incredible summit. And we all know, we feel it, it’s our feeling, it’s our emotional certitude that this movement, the National Resistance of Iran, has attained its momentum. Everything is going to go very fast from now on, and we have to be ready.
Because the power of our unity and the resilience of our spirit will bring about the dawn of a new era of Iran, a future without the Mullahs, a future without the dictatorship and the violence and the cranes-hanging people and the corruption and the alliances around the world with the most corrupt people put in for one. Maduro in Venezuela for a second, and my shame as a Colombian with Petro, the newly elected Colombian president, which is bringing my country, Colombia, to a very dire, it’s the darkest moment for all of us.
But we’re going to build a future together, a future of freedom, of democracy, of the triumph of the human spirit and generosity.
And thank you, Maryam. As with you, the flame of hope is to burn bright within all of our hearts. Thank you, Maryam.