One speaker was Ingrid Betancourt, a Colombian-French former politician who was imprisoned for six years by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. She retold the story a young girl visiting her father in an Iranian prison.
Betancourt said: “This girl was eight and living in a valley in Iran when some uniformed men came to see her father one day. They took him away that day. It was 18 years ago and the only time she can see her father is on her weekly visits to the prison where he is still held. She waits, like many others, in a line outside the prison to see her father for 20 minutes every week.”
The keynote address was delivered by Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the NCRI, who has presented a ten-point plan for democracy in Iran including gender equality, a separation of church and state and the abolition of the death penalty.
In her speech, she noted that in the year since the Iran nuclear deal, repression and discrimination within the country had worsened and that the only real solution was an overthrow of the “religious dictatorship”.
Rajavi said: “We offer a solution that is the only effective option and the most indispensable and attainable solution: the right of the Iranian people to overthrow the religious dictatorship and attain freedom and democracy must be recognised. Many elected representatives of people throughout the world, as well as senior US, European, Australian, Canadian and Asian personalities and dignitaries – who support freedom and democracy in Iran – proudly attest to this reality.”
She reiterated that the mullah’s regime and ISIS had a similar nature.
Rajavi said: “Both espouse a similar reactionary ideology which is diametrically opposed to the pristine teachings of Islam. They have a similar modus operandi when it comes to barbarity and savagery. They need to rely on one another to survive. For this reason, so long as the regime’s occupation of Syria, Iraq and Yemen continues, we cannot confront [ISIS] effectively.”
In closing, she said: “We will not relent until the day when Iranians of all persuasions and divergences can join hands to hoist the flag of victory, the flag of a free and democratic Iran.”