Here, we will look at the remarks of former Columbian Presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.
Betancourt began her speech by saying that they were commemorating a “lifetime” of the Resistance for Freedom movement, saying that she had been just 18 at the time when the mullahs’ dictatorship began and remembered the “sheer sense of frustration” that came right at the beginning when the Mullah’s regime “betrayed the dreams of the Iranian people after overthrowing the Shah’s dictatorship”.
She said that all of the freedoms gained by the Iranian people during the revolution had been taken away by June 1981, while thousands of MEK supporters have been killed, injured and imprisoned.
Betancourt noted that, because of this, the MEK called for peaceful demonstrations against this new dictatorship on June 20, 1981, and that in less than an hour, 500,000 people flooded the streets of Tehran alone.
She said: “Let’s picture the moment: as the demonstrators were marching towards the Parliament, more and more people began joining in, gaining momentum. Khomeini, the regime’s first Supreme Leader, publicly ordered the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) to open fire on the crowd. They killed, arrested, and started mass executions of thousands of prisoners without any trial. It was bloodshed. The beginning of the Iranian nightmare. June 20, 1981 marks this turning point in Iran’s history, and the beginning of an all-out resistance against the clerical regime.”
Betancourt advised that in the intervening decades, the regime has executed 120,000 people, mainly MEK supporters, while arresting and torturing an unknown amount more. In the summer of 1988, 30,000 MEK members were slaughtered en-masse. She said that even the war with Iraq was designed to establish a dictatorship under the pretext of conflict and to destroy the Iranian Resistance.
At the same time, the regime, who was terrified of the MEK launched a disinformation campaign against the group in order to reduce their support, as well as to convince foreign governments to support the mullahs and “ban, deport, expel, and extradite” MEK members living abroad. As part of this campaign, the mullahs claim that the Iranian people reject the MEK and support the regime, but this is not true.
Betancourt said: “The Iranian people have never accepted the clerical rule. They have, indeed, waged the most heroic resistance for forty years. And we are proud to have to be part of it, at our small scale, but with all the power of our hearts.”
She then cited the Iranian people’s uprisings of 2017, 2018 and 2019, in which they voiced loud support for the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime by shouting slogans like:
- “Reformer, Hardliner, The Game Is Over”
- “Death To [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei”
- “Our Enemy Is Right Here, Not In America
Of course, the regime responded with violence and shut off internet access to prevent the scale of the protests and the regime’s violence from reaching Western ears, but the uprising still proved that regime overthrow is possible and the role of the MEK is instrumental to its success.