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The Free Iran World Summit 2019

Speech by Ingrid Betancourt, Former Colombian Senator at the Conference in The Netherlands

During a presentation at a conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian Senator, illuminated the intricate network of threats and deceit orchestrated by the Iranian regime.
Ingrid Betancourt, Former Colombian Senator

During a presentation at a conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian Senator, illuminated the intricate network of threats and deceit orchestrated by the Iranian regime. She called for a reassessment of European policies toward Iran, underscoring the regime’s terrorist agenda. Betancourt commenced her address by elucidating the interconnectedness of global conflicts, pointing to Iran’s influence in crises spanning Ukraine to the Middle East.

The ex-Colombian presidential candidate also scrutinized Iran’s extensive communication strategy, designed to shape public opinion, disseminate misinformation, and manipulate European institutions. She issued a cautionary message regarding the Iranian regime’s infiltration into decision-making processes, posing a threat to the autonomy of democratic nations.

Drawing from her personal ordeal as a victim of terrorism and hostage-taking, Betancourt recounted her successful navigation through the regime’s propaganda and disinformation onslaught. Her journey led to a profound understanding and endorsement of the Iranian Resistance.

The full text of Senator Betancourt’s speech follows:

Ingrid Betancourt, Former Colombian Senator: Freedom in Iran Has a Face, Maryam Rajavi

Dear friends, dear Maryam, I think it is time to make a recap and to try to understand what’s happening when we are focusing on the conflicts in the world, we are looking at Russia and Ukraine, we’re looking at Israel and Hamas. And we have to see the shadow of Iran behind it. And when we see the shadow of Iran fueling these two conflicts in order to expand its power and influence, we have to just open our eyes and see what’s happening in Iran.

Of course, we have known for four decades that Iran’s regime is a violator of human rights. It’s not new, but it’s becoming worse. The terrorist reach of Iran is expanding, and it’s expanding here in Europe. They have a hold here, and we don’t see it. And we need to be able to understand what’s happening.

In 2018, some of us were in France, in Villepinte, and we were, without not knowing, being subject to a bomb attempt. The police of Belgium, France, and Germany succeeded in making this attempt fail. They arrested the criminals and sentenced them to 30 years in jail in Belgium.

Some months ago, they were released because the government of Belgium was subject to a strategy of blackmail. Iran has been detaining innocent citizens, European citizens, in order to have money in exchange and to be able to obtain the freedom of Iranian terrorists in Europe.

Three weeks ago, a very dear friend of mine, a personal friend of mine, a very dear friend and freedom fighter for Iran, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, was shot at point blank, some meters from his residency. He was in Madrid. He was lucky enough because he survived. He’s alive.

I went to Madrid. I spoke with his wife. But when we are experiencing death so close to us, when it’s not about the people that are being killed some part of the world far from where we are, but it’s happening here, and it’s them coming after us, we have to ask ourselves how, against all logic and against all self-preserving instinct, the Western governments had adopted an attitude of being submissive, of surrender in front of the regime of Iran, and they have been consistent in having an appeasement policy towards this regime?

We know that some days ago, some threads of emails were leaked to the public opinion. And then we discovered that there is a massive strategy, communication strategy, in order not only to influence, disinform, and manipulate our public opinions in relation to Iran, but worse and more alarming, to infiltrate the European institutions and our governments in order to curve official decisions in our governments, in order to suit the interests of the Iranian regime.

This is an attempt to obtain two results. The first, of course, is to neutralize European and American diplomacy. We’re very weak. Very, very weak. And they are giving us a narrative that is very subtle, that comes from we don’t know where… journalists, academics, people that are presenting themselves as experts on Iran. And we now know that those independent experts of Iran have a black master in the shadow, and that’s the regime, paying them salaries in order to fuel information that will topple and deviate the decisions that are taken in our democracies.

So, they are really very keen, and they know how to get into the fibers of our democracy. We like to be informed. We like to have independent sources. But they have been able to make us think that they are independent in order to make us think about the nuclear program in Iran, or about the terrorist activities of Iran, or about the involvement of Iran in the conflicts in the Middle East, that there are reasons.

And so it’s acceptable. So they will tell us, for example, that, well, if Iran violates human rights, and especially women’s rights, oh, it’s because it’s their culture. And if we say, well, but the nuclear program, that’s a problem because we don’t want any nuclear country, oh, yes, but, you know, they have the right to protect themselves.

And if we talk about terrorism, because we know they’re terrorists, we are taking those criminals paid by Iran, most of them Iranian diplomats, in jail for what they have been doing, and they tell us, oh, no, no, those are – it’s not Iran. Those are individuals, and they act individually. And they do it because they are very good Muslims, and they want to just follow the lead of the prophet.

And we are in a democracy, and we are trained to be tolerant. And this tolerance is taking us to places where democracy is going to disappear if we don’t watch out. It’s not only the fact that they are brainwashing us, noticing, but it’s also that they are killing the hope of something different in Iran.

Because the aim of this pseudo-expert is not only to brainwash us as a public opinion in order that influence a government in order they do what Iranians want them to do. It’s also that they are attacking the only democratic organization, the opposition against the Iranian government, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the MEK, which is the party which Maryam is the leader, the one who is the only alternative to this nightmare of the Ayatollahs. And what will they say? They will tell us that it’s a cult.

Of course, we women, know that when we are leading something, it’s always about us. It’s a cult. When we do politics and we’re women, it’s hard because we’re always attacked on who we are and not on what we think. But they will tell us also that the MEK or the resistance is not a force. They don’t have any political power. And they will tell us all that they don’t have any presence in Iran. It’s just something here outside Iran, people that are living outside the country, and that they have no influence whatsoever in Iran. Guess what? All the protests from the last six years have been inside of Iran, presented to the Iranian people as the result of the MEK organization.

So look, they have – they are the masters of deception. They will tell us here to our governments, that those guys don’t even exist. But inside Iran, they will kill people like the people we saw that they killed, the protesters, the young people that we just saw, because the human rights violation is increasing.

And it’s increasing when – and with the allegation that these young protesters are members of the MEK. So, I don’t want to go through the details of how they build this scheme. What we know is that the minister of foreign affairs of Iran hired some academics and some journalists, and they built a kind of face that is called the Iran Expert Initiative, which sounds very good. And guess what? Because they are this independent expert group, they’ve been hired by our countries and by the European Commission and the European Parliament, with our taxes, to give them advice on what should be the European policy towards Iran.

Really? I mean, that’s what’s happening? And we’re just letting it go? They are kidnapping our people, the citizens that go to Iran, tourists, nice people, young people, they go into jail with a false accusation of being spies, and we just don’t do anything?

And then they come and they fuel us with false narratives and we just think that we’re very democratic and we will just let it go because we’re tolerant? And they are killing our democracy, and they are killing the ways and the means we have in order to confront them in all the terrorist actions they are forcing into us in Europe and in the Middle East, and we’re not doing anything?

When I discovered the MEK, I was a victim of this disinformation, you know? I remember I told Maryam so many times, that I came to a meeting with the National Council of Resistance of Iran, and the next day, in my computer, I had all these things popping up like information about Iran and podcasts about Iran.

So, I went there and I discovered that the MEK was a terrorist group, that they were communists, that they were misogynistic, wow. I was like, oh my God, perhaps I was not in the place I should have been.

And then I said to myself, this is kind of strange, don’t you think? I mean, how did I get all this information? I would like to understand more and more. And then, probably because I had been abducted seven years, and probably because I was abducted by a communist organization, and probably because that communist organization was a cult and was misogynistic and was communist, and I could understand and see how they operate. I was kind of wanting to know more because it didn’t seem right, what I was seeing on one hand and reading on the other hand.

So, I know that what happened to me has happened to many people. But what I know for sure is that if that information is fake and is disinformation, there are things that are not fake. Not fake are the bomb attempts. Not fake is the attempted murder of Alejo Vidal-Quadras. That’s not fake. Not fake is, and I’m just, I mean, I’m really appalled to think that Ebrahim Raisi, which is known all over the world, it’s not new, the UN knows, they have the dossier, they have the archives, they have the proofs, the witnesses, the testimonies of hundreds of people telling them that this guy, Ebrahim Raisi, was the henchman of Iran for the mass murders that Iran has committed over the years.

In 1988, 30,000 political opponents, mostly all members of the MEK, all killed. He was the dark hand. And not so long ago, in 2019, 1,500 people, were protesters in the streets. Of course, the MEK is not important, but they killed 1,500 young people for being from the MEK. He was the dark hand.

And then, in 2022, I mean, last year, 750 young people were murdered, and 30,000 arrested. And that’s not fake. And that is true. And those people are dying. And I think when we are confronted with such a disgrace, that we feel as Europeans, we feel, I mean, ashamed, ashamed. Because we are closing the door to our countries to very good people, Muslim people from other countries. We’re closing the door on them. Why?

Because we haven’t been able to close the door on Iran and its terrorist activities. And we’re paying the price, all of us. And I think it is time that we woke up. Because I really do believe that it’s not too late. But we have to do it quickly. And we have to wake up.

Our European governments, all of our European governments, have to revise their policy. Because we’re not trying to protect our peace. That’s false. That’s a false narrative. We are feeding the monster. That’s what we’re doing. And while we have dozens of our citizens from all over Europe, French, Swedish, German, all over, detained in Iran for whatever crime they have not committed, and in order to force our governments to free Iranian criminals, terrorists that we have in jail, through our justice, through our very courageous judges who have been able to sentence them into jail, I think that now we have to gather our force, back up our judges, back up our police, confront our politicians because they are not understanding what’s happening, and realize that if we want to have a chance to have peace, peace, we all want peace, but if we want to have a chance to have some peace, if we want to have a chance to live in our countries in peace, integrating the people that are coming, good people, good workers that we need, that we have to welcome.

But if we don’t want to be in fear that in Europe we’re going to be having our teachers stabbed by a crazy lunatic, or our priests being killed, or veiled women being attacked, and this is happening now, in France we have had too many of those.

In recent months, we had a teacher that was murdered in one of our schools, because he talked about freedom of speech in his class. I was talking not so long ago, two days ago, with a French teacher. She teaches in the suburbs of Paris. Paris! Suburbs. She was telling me that all the children are migrants. Not one of them is French. They have to come to learn French. But the situation is so tense that they don’t even know if they can put up a Christmas tree. That’s where we are.

So if we want to live in freedom, tolerance, and respect for each other’s differences, we need to confront the monster, and the monster is Iran. And to have a chance to do it, there’s only one way. There’s no other way. There’s only one left. All the others have been erased and killed. One way, which is the MEK. One way.

And there’s only one face. And there’s only one face to freedom in Iran, and that face is that one. A woman’s face.

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Speech by Ingrid Betancourt, Former Colombian Senator at the Conference in The Netherlands