PARIS, France– Over 100,000 people attended the “Iran Freedom” rally in Villepinte, Paris on Saturday showing a strong opposition standing to the Islamic fundamentalist Iranian Regime. The event was sponsored by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
The National Council of Resistance of Iran was founded in 1981 in Tehran, Iran by Massoud Rajavi. NCRI represents a broad coalition of democratic Iranian organizations that aim to establish a secular democratic Iran with women comprising 50% of the organization. The current President-elect is Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, who established a “Ten Point Plan for Future Iran” which includes: elections at the ballot box; individual freedoms, including freedom of expression and media; abolition of the death penalty; separation of religion and state; gender equality; rule of law and justice; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; recognition of private property, private investment and the market economy; foreign policy on peaceful coexistence, international and regional peace and cooperation and non-nuclear Iran, free of weapons and mass destruction.
Over 600 dignitaries from 5 continents and 69 countries were represented at the gathering, with a large delegation from the United States, including: Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, General George Casey, former Commander of the Multi-National Force Iraq (2004-2007) James Woolsey, former CIA director John Bolton, former US ambassador to the UN Governor Bill Richardson, Judge Michael Mukasey, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Tom Ridge and many others.
A large delegation from Arab countries were present as well, including lawmakers and political dignitaries from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Yemen. There was also a delegation representing Syria’s opposition.
The crowd was enthusiastic, carrying banners and flags representing a free and democratic Iran. “United against Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, change of regime by Iranian people and Resistance,” read their slogan. Buses and buses filled the parking lots with tens of thousands of people from around the world coming to show support for a free and democratic Iran.
Guest speaker Mayor Giuliani made an impassioned call for Iran to free itself of the grip of Islamist leaders. “The ayatollah must go,” he said, “He and Rouhani and Ahmadinijad and all of the rest of them should be put on trial for crimes against humanity for the thousands and hundreds of thousands of people they have killed, and it is about time we stop ignoring it.”
He continued, “We have allowed this for years, hundreds of thousands of Iranians slaughtered, more being slaughtered today than before. American soldiers killed by the Quds Force. For how much longer are we going to allow this? What happened to the America that supports democracy and freedom?”
There was strong opposition to the Iranian negotiations being led from the United States Administration expressed by the majority of guest speakers. President-elect of NCRI, Mrs. Rajavi stated during her remarks regarding the Iranian negotiations:
I should therefore remind western governments that the Iranian people and Resistance will not accept any agreement that does not dismantle the regime’s bomb-making infrastructure.
UN Security Council resolutions must be implemented fully. Uranium enrichment must be halted completely. And the regime must provide answers to the military dimensions of its nuclear project and make its nuclear experts available for IAEA questioning.
P5+1 Leaders, if you do not want a nuclear-armed fundamentalist regime, stop appeasing it. Do not bargain over the human rights of the Iranian people and recognize their organized Resistance which is striving for freedom. You are gravely mistaken in thinking that there is no solution. There is a solution for ending the mullah’s nuclear weapons program: regime change by the Iranian people and Resistance.
She continued, “The people of Iran neither want nuclear weapons nor meddling in Iraq, Syria or Yemen, nor despotism, torture and shackles.”
An underlining message throughout the conference was the failed promise to protect the people at Camp Liberty in Iraq. David Campbell, the current Chairman of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq stated, “Let me ask the United Nations a few questions about Camp Liberty: Why do they call Camp Liberty a Temporary Transit Location when the refugees have been forced to live there for 41 months? Why have there been no inquiries into the massacres of these innocent, unarmed civilians that took place in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty? Why have they allowed a medical siege of this refugee camp to continue unchallenged for years?”
He called on the UN and US to protect the people at Camp Liberty and not betray them. This call for protection for the refugees at Camp Liberty was repeated throughout the conference.
Speaking to attendee Nasser Sharif, President of California Society for Democracy in Iran and an Iranian dissident, he said, “The U.S. government promised the Camp Liberty residents that they would protect them. They signed an agreement with every individual. They gave every individual a protected person ID card by U.S. Forces that states ‘we will protect you.’ But when they left Iraq, the United States handed their protection to Iraqi forces during that time and President Maliki. Since Maliki was a puppet for the Iranian regime, they attacked Camp Liberty residences many times and many times people were killed.”
He said, “We believe that the United States and the UN has an obligation to protect these dissidents in Iraq. We are asking the UN to declare Camp Liberty as a refugee camp. The United States gave them a promise to protect them in writing, the Iraqi government gave a promise to protect them, but both have failed them.”
He stated that there are demonstrations everyday in Iran. “Most of the people demonstrating end up in jail, tortured and executed,” he said. “This is the price the Iranian people are willing to pay for freedom. [The] Iran regime is a danger to world peace. This is the time we could bring democratic change in Iran. There is a strong opposition that you are witnessing here for change.”
Regarding the U.S. and Iran negotiations, he said, “These negotiations will be fruitless because the Iranian government for the last 35 years has never respected any international community’s demands. It is not a government we can trust. The fact is that they have been lying about their nuclear capabilities for years and years.”
“Their goal is to build a bomb. The fact that they were hiding facilities and working secretly to obtain a nuclear bomb shows that we cannot trust them. The Iranian people inside don’t want a nuclear bomb. They want jobs, they want security… they want freedom, they want freedom of expression, freedom of religion, this is more important to them,” he said.
“That is why we oppose these nuclear talks and we believe instead of appeasing the Iranian Mullahs, we need to focus on the Iranian people and opposition, there should be a change of policy towards Iran from the U.S. Administration,” he stated.
Tera Dahl is Executive Director of the Council on Global Security.