Senator Ingrid Betancourt, former presidential candidate in Columbia
Remarks at IWD conference on “Women Force for Change, Iran Uprising and Women’s Role”
Paris – February 17, 2018
I would first like to salute the women of Iran, the courageous women of Iran, the women who are supported by the men in this room and the women who represent them, especially Mrs. Rajavi who is the voice and the face of Iran’s free women in the world.
I would also like to greet the extraordinary and courageous women who participate with us in this congress, in this forum. I am very touched to see the participation of my colleagues from Argentina.
And I want to take five minutes to share with you a question that is in my head.
While in the world, in countries with democracy and freedom, we see that women have moved to speak up and dared to denounce the harassments they have been victims of, that there has been this great movement of #MeToo all over the world, I hear that some do not know about the participation of Iranian woman in the uprising of the past months.
So, what makes me very curious is that in general those people who say they do not know (of Iranian women’s role in the uprising), they are the same ones who after having made a quick trip to Iran –on the invitation of Iranian “reformist” government– they come back praising (the regime) and telling us enthusiastically that the women of Iran are free! And that she is so free that she dresses as she wants, that she can even let a lock of her hair out from under the veil! So much for the Iranian women’s emancipation!
And these people do not understand because the justice system in the West in general is that when a man harasses a woman, the culprit is put on trial. He will have to take responsibility for what he has done.
But (in Iran) for all the girls and all the Iranian women who dare to stand up to the dictatorship, it is prison that awaits them.
And it is not a prison with a lawyer, in safety, with the possibility of having a trial where it is necessary, but a dungeon of arbitrariness where these women are cut off from their families. It is a place where they do not have the right to defense and to have a lawyer.
They are treated like criminals because they dared to dress as they want. Because they dared to think differently. Because they have finally dared and that is why those who do not understand, do not want to understand.
They do not want to understand that Iranian women are in fact shaking the mullahs’ regime, the Iranian dictatorship. And they are shaking it because when they remove their veils, they are demanding bread, jobs for young people, but also basic civil rights, human rights, abolition of the death penalty, abolition of nuclear weapons and abolition of the (compulsory) veiling.
Everything is connected together in Iran. And that’s why there are people in the West who do not want to see this, who do not want to understand that the struggle of Iranian women is a fight against a misogynist and murderous regime, and that to support the women in Iran is going against a regime that has bought its allies in the Western world.
So I ask you, we who are here, women and men together, to stand up, accompany me, stand up, stand up and reproduce the gesture of the Iranian woman who had the courage to run through the cloud of tear gas, to face these executioners shouting, “death to the dictator.”
Long live the free republic of Iran. Long live Maryam Rajavi.