Over four consecutive days, from June 30 to July 3, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) organized a series of five significant conferences and panels, culminating in a major rally in Paris attended by thousands of supporters.
The primary objective was to draw the attention of the international community to a critical issue: the removal of the terrorist theocracy in Iran would lead to a better world, and this change is feasible. However, this year’s Free Iran summit took place amidst various internationally influenced events in which Tehran held the greatest stake and responsibility.
On June 19, shortly after the NCRI announced plans for the Free Iran Summit 2023, the Paris police issued a statement confirming the decision to ban the rally due to concerns about potential disturbances to public order given the geopolitical context.
Some political analysts linked this decision to a 90-minute call between French President Emmanuel Macron and the clerical regime’s President Ebrahim Raisi on June 10. Speculation arose in French media about European hostages being involved.
Abdol-Reza Farajirad, the regime’s former ambassador to Norway and Hungary, confirmed that during negotiations to release French, Danish, and Iranian-Austrian prisoners in Iran, agreements were reached regarding the control of the MEK‘s activities in Europe.
In response, the NCRI issued a statement declaring its intention to challenge the French government’s decision in court. The statement emphasized, “The clerical regime’s pressure on France to impose this ban reveals the mullahs’ paranoia over the popular sentiment towards the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and the organization’s pivotal role in the nationwide uprising.”
The Iranian regime launched a wave of attacks against the Iranian Resistance, which were met with enthusiasm in Tehran and among the regime’s loyal followers. Iranian state officials, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Judiciary, Friday prayer leaders, and IRGC field commanders, claimed success in persuading the West to turn against the MEK and take action against its members.
However, events unfolded differently, and the extensive coverage by international and Persian-speaking media left observers wondering how and why. What they failed to understand was the fundamental element upon which this movement had always relied: its independence.
The regime’s greatest fear was preventing a restless society from witnessing the Free Iran Summit, which showcased how an Iranian organization had successfully merged domestic resistance cells with international support. As the battle between the clerical regime and its primary opposition movement unfolded, the people of Iran witnessed scenes that were prohibited but filled with even greater defiance, resilience, and unwavering determination.
The Iranian people learned that, contrary to the regime’s claims that the Iranian Resistance was backed by foreign powers, it had defied all odds and continued to convey the message that appeasement with Tehran is destined to fail, and the people of Iran are destined for victory.
There are few precedents of grassroots movements or resistance groups achieving global recognition, let alone successfully bringing about social or political change. Many opposition groups, whether supported by global powers or used for geopolitical purposes, have sacrificed their independence in their quest for power. But with support often coming with strings attached, they lost more than they gained.
Since going into exile, the Iranian Resistance has paid a heavy price to maintain its independence. Over four decades, the movement has remained true to its goals and ideals, despite changes in its geographical location and shifting priorities of world powers in engaging with the clerical regime in Iran.
“I must reiterate,” emphasized NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi during her speech on July 1, “We neither desire nor have ever asked foreign governments to help our people and our Resistance in toppling the regime. Instead, we urge them to cease supporting the mullahs.”
Addressing world leaders present at the summit, with countless viewers watching via satellite TV, Mrs. Rajavi added, “However, we will never compromise the autonomy of the Resistance or Iran’s sovereignty for all the wealth in the world. We refuse to abandon our core beliefs, values, battles, and ideals in pursuit of power. We will not tolerate any form of tyranny, exploitation, or authoritarianism, whether from the Shah’s dictatorship or the mullahs. Furthermore, we do not rely on any foreign power to liberate Iran.”