Uniting for Freedom, Democracy & Equality

Remarks by Ingrid Betancourt–Call for Justice Summit, July 19, 2020

Ingrid Betancourt, former Senator, Presidential Candidate of Colombia, and former hostage joined the Online Free Iran Global Summit—day 2. In her remarks, Ms Betancourt said, “The members of the MEK are women and men who have suffered torture both in the Shah’s and in the mullahs’ prisons. They have seen their families and friends executed.”

In July 1988, the Iranian religious fascism’s founder and the first supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering the execution of imprisoned opponents, including those who had already been tried and were serving their prison terms. This was the beginning of what turned out to be the biggest massacre of political prisoners since World War II.

Following the decree, some 30,000 political prisoners were extra-judicially executed within several months. Today, thanks to the initiative of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), known as “Call for Justice” many legal and international bodies have joined the families of victims in search of justice.

Here is the speech of Ms Betancourt:

In the anti-regime protests in January this year, people were chanting, “Down with dictators, be it the Shah or the Supreme Leader.” It could seem odd for outsiders to see Iranians bringing back today from the ashes of history the name of the Shah, simultaneously with the name of the leader of the today’s dictatorship. This is more than a historical parallel, they are referring to an ongoing alliance.

During the 1953 coup d’tat against Prime Minister Mossadeq, a liberal reformist who was opening a Democratic path to Iranians, the religious leader at the time, Ayatollah Kashani, acted in alliance with the Shah to bring down Mossadeq, accusing him of being a Communist and putting an end to this early Iranian Spring. Today, the mullahs are in power, but the monarchists, despite all their enmity with this regime, prefer this regime to the free and democratic option that Iranians in the streets are planning for.

Recently, Ardeshir Zahedi, a former Iranian minister and an ambassador to the United States from the Shah era attacked Washington for the military operation against Qassem Soleimani. He said in an interview that the United States were the real terrorists and added, “I have always been and will always be proud of Qassem Soleimani. He was the one who sacrificed his life for his country, unlike those who sell themselves for money.” What was Ardeshir Zahedi talking about as a follower of the Shah? Who was he trying to fool?

The objective alliance between theocrats and monarchists is also visible in the way they both attack the Iranian democratic forces, the NCRI and, especially, the MEK. They can see how people in Iran are recognizing NCRI and MEK leadership as a unifying organized force to defeat the regime and open the way to democracy. For years, the mullahs’ regime has campaigned to portray the MEK as a terrorist organization and it has failed. Every single time their accusations have been brought to a court of justice, an independent judge has made a point of honor, be it the States, in Britain, in Europe, to clear the name of the Iranian resistance and of its leaders from all the dirt the regime tried to pile up against them.

Ingrid Betancourt: The members of the MEK are women and men who have suffered torture both in the Shah’s and in the mullahs’ prisons. They have seen their families and friends executed."

Today, they want to divide protestors inside Iran and within the resistance with the false allegation that the MEK in Ashraf are prisoners of their leaders unable to make their own decisions. This is precisely what the tyrannical regime of the mullahs is guilty of. The regime holds Iranian population as its prisoners, trying to brainwash them with lies and threats and even using the name of God to do evil. It’s a well-known strategy to accuse your accusers of what you’re guilty of, turning tables, putting the blame on the other.

The members of the MEK are women and men who have suffered torture both in the Shah’s and in the mullahs’ prisons. They have seen their families and friends executed. They have stayed together in Iraq, in Paris, in Tirana, and other areas, fighting together because they know that they are the spearhead of the Iranian warriors for freedom. Their choice is to remain together, but knowing that they will be welcomed anywhere they wish to go because they are recognized and admired for their struggle, their skills, their high education, their proficiency, and their values in anything they undertake.

Being an Ashrafi is not a second-best choice in life. It’s not a solution against solitude or unemployment. It’s not an escaping strategy or transitional mode. It’s not being the puppet of anyone. Maryam Rajavi is leader of a movement who has suffered and sacrificed as much or more than any of its members. A woman who cannot be bought, intimidated, or even silenced because she’s the voice and hope of millions. She’s not the prison guard, but the key to freedom, a justice fighter. Being like her, an Ashrafi, is the closest we can imagine today to being an apocalyptic warrior. It’s the stuff for heroes. It’s the destiny chosen by women and men who don’t give up. It’s the transformer’s option of the dreamer becoming the winner. Iran knows. They know where the truth is standing and who is flying its banner. Iranians understand that the best way to have the criminals accountable for their 40 years of crimes is to overthrow this tyranny, to win this war for freedom.