The annual gathering of the Iranian opposition for a free Iran convened in Villepinte, Paris, in the afternoon of Saturday, July 1, 2017, lasting for 10 hours.
Tens of thousands of supporters and hundreds of distinguished personalities, elected representatives and activists for human and women’s rights activists from U.S., Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and Australia participated in the rally in solidarity for a free Iran.
Speakers stressed regime change as the only viable solution not only for a free Iran but to end the crisis in the Middle East and terrorism and extremism.
Keynote speaker the Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi underlined in her speech the three fundamental truths which are significant to obtaining freedom for Iran and establishing peace and tranquility in the Middle East.
Maryam Rajavi said, “The winds of change have started blowing in our homeland. The ruling regime is in disarray and paralyzed as never before. Iranian society is simmering with discontent and the international community is finally getting closer to the reality that appeasing the ruling theocracy is misguided. The same volatile situation speaks to three fundamental truths for obtaining freedom in Iran, and peace and tranquility in the region. First, the imperative of overthrowing the ruling religious dictatorship. Second, the regime’s overthrow is within reach. And third, a democratic alternative and an organized resistance exists, which is capable of toppling the theocracy in Iran.”
Mrs. Rajavi addressed women and youths in Iran as well as other sectors to rise up and erect 1000 bastions of rebellion to overthrow the religious dictatorship and bring freedom, justice and equality to the nation.
Dozens of speakers including a number of prominent women addressed the gathering and declared their support for Mrs. Rajavi’s leadership. They included Rita Süssmuth, former speaker of the German Bundestag and women’s rights advocate; Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, Germany’s former Minister of Justice; Baroness Sandip Verma from UK, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development and Ministerial Champion for tackling Violence Against Women & Girls Overseas; Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Center for Social Research in India; Maria Elena Elverdin, President of International Federation of Women in Legal Career, from Argentina; Maria Candida Almeida, Deputy Attorney General of Portugal; Linda Chavez, founder and chairwoman of the Center for Equal Opportunity, former White House Public Relations Liaison; Catherine Noone, a practicing solicitor and Deputy Leader of Seanad Éireann, the Upper House of Ireland; Elona Gjebrea, deputy Interior Minister of Albania and National Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings; Íngrid Betancourt, former presidential candidate for Columbia; Rama Yade, Secretary of Human Rights (2007-2009) and permanent delegate to UNESCO (2010-2011), France; The Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (2012-2016), UK; Michèle de Vau Covler, French MP; Nejat Al-Astal, MP from Palestine; Els van Hoof, MP from Belgium; Martine Valleton, mayor of Villepinte from France.
Also participating were Eva Duran Ramos, President of Popular Party in Puente de Vallecas from Spain, MP (2008-2016); Margarita Durán Vadell, historian, journalist from Spain, Senator (2011-2015); Virginia Romero Banon, lawyer from Spain, Senator (2011-2015); Carmen Navaro Bellot, linguist and language rights activist from Spain; Concetta Giallombardo, Attorney and President of the Association of Female Jurists from Palermo, Italy; Ana Paula Matos Barros, lawyer and former MP from Portugal; Cherifa Kheddar, human rights activist and chair of the Algerians Association; Malika Boussouf, Algerian writer, journalist and women's rights activist; Senator Evelyn Yonnet from France; among many others.
Dr. Ranjana Kumari, a prominent advocate for gender equality from India, saluted the people of Iran for their courageous struggle against the Iranian regime and added, “We are once again here to support you. The Resistance movement under the leadership of Maryam Rajavi can and must bring the change to Iran, because if a movement despite harsh conditions imposed on it by a medieval regime, has made real achievements on the question of equality between women and men, which is one of the most difficult tasks in the history of the world to get men and women achieve the kind of equality that this movement is pushing to achieve. This movement has been able to bring up a generation of powerful women to undertake the most serious responsibilities particularly in the struggle against fundamentalism. This movement has also been able to make equality and parity happen without abandoning men. In fact, instead, it has created a generation of active and responsible men with open minds to accept women’s hegemony. Then, I would say that this movement is certainly prepared to launch democratic change in Iran. You are almost there.”
Linda Chavez, Chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity said, “Your movement under the leadership and the direction of Madam Maryam Rajavi is the one that can replace the (Iranian) regime. You are the hope for the freedom of Iran.”
In her brief remarks, Ms. Maria Elena Elverdin said, “I bring the support of International Federation of Women in Legal Careers from around the world to Mrs. Rajavi and her struggle for freedom in Iran. I want to send a strong message to women and girls watching us inside Iran, now: We are with you and we will fight for your rights until your victory!”
Maria Candida Almeida from Portugal said, “I respect and believe in your ideas and share your dream of freedom, equality, liberation and your perseverance in fighting for human rights in particular for women’s rights... After relocation of MEK to Albania, the next step is victory of Mrs. Rajavi to a free Iran.”
Els Van Hoof, chair of women’s faction in the Belgian Parliament, expressed concern about women’s rights in Iran and lauded the Iranian Resistance and the MEK for women’s leadership in the movement.
The Rt. Hon. Theresa Villier from UK in parts of her remarks said, “I am here today to support freedom for Iran… We pay tribute to Maryam Rajavi who leads the struggle for a democratic future for Iran... It is completely unacceptable that 2000 women are arrested in Iran every day…”
Baroness Verma from UK also pointed out in part of her remarks, “We want to make sure that the desires of the people of Iran for freedom and democracy are realized. We are delivering hope not only to the people of Iran but to ourselves that we can make a change.”
In another part of the event, members of the MEK leadership in Ashraf and Liberty went on stage in Albania and thanked the supporters of Ashraf over long years of difficult struggle. They renewed the MEK’s pledge in response to this support and vowed to fight on more determined than ever to topple the religious dictatorship in Iran and establish freedom, equality and justice.