Last week the Friends of Free Iran (FOFI) inter-parliamentary group in the European Parliament held a conference in solidarity with the Iranian people’s uprising and the EU’s policy regarding the Iranian regime and its terrorist Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
The keynote speaker of this event was Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The event and its panelists called for a firm policy vis-à-vis the Iranian regime while also supporting the leading role of the Iranian Resistance, particularly the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and the organization’s Resistance Units network inside Iran, acting as the trailblazers of the ongoing uprising.
Mrs. Rajavi, who joined the conference online, highlighted that the desire of the Iranian people for regime change has manifested itself in a major and enduring uprising. For many years, the advocates of the Iranian regime, as well as its allies, denied that the Iranian people are demanding regime change.
Today, however, no one can deny the stark reality that the people of Iran want this regime overthrown. They want to live in a society based on freedom and democracy governed by a republic founded on democratic values.
Mrs. Rajavi also stressed that the EU’s refusal to implement the EP’s resolution, especially by not adding the IRGC to the EU terrorist list, is a huge disappointment for the Iranian protesters and human rights defenders. “For years, EU policy has been based on engagement with the mullahs’ regime. The other side of this has been ignoring the voice of the Iranian people and the Resistance. The EU policy has been destructive, not only for the Iranian people but also for Europe. Look at the number of European or dual citizens currently held hostage in Iran. Europe’s failure to hold the regime accountable has given it a license for impunity for its crimes against the Iranian people and impunity for terrorism in Europe and hostage-taking. The failure to designate the IRGC this week is part of the policy of appeasement and relying on baseless analysis invented by the regime: The false image of a powerful and stable regime with no democratic alternative is what justified the continuation of the policy of appeasement.” She also underlined that the “Iranian people understand fully well that monarchy has been a symbol of dictatorship in Iran in the past two centuries. In recent protests, they have chanted thousands of times that they want neither the previous nor the current dictatorships. They want freedom.”
In his opening remarks, MEP Petras Auštrevičius, who co-chaired the event, referred to FOFI’s declarations and the EP’s resolution calling for the IRGC’s terrorist designation. “We ask as well for the immediate and unconditional release of all protesters sentenced to death, and the list is included. There is a line expressing our strong solidarity with Iranian youth, women, and men for each and every normal society and country. And indeed, we have expressed our sincere condolences to families of those who have lost their beloved and members of the family because of death sentences and killed people during the protests.” “Well, in fact, there is a very clear line taken by the European Parliament asking to expand a new sanctions list to the individuals and entities responsible for human rights violations and their family members, including supreme leader Ali Khamenei, the president, Ebrahim Raisi and Prosecutor General Ahmad Jafar Mantazeri, and all the foundations somehow linked to both crimes and actions by the Iranian authorities,” he added. Referring to the EP’s resolution, MEP Auštrevičius said: “Indeed, a very special line is dedicated to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and its subsidiary forces. We asked to include them on the terrorist list.”
Opposing Josep Borrel’s position regarding the IRGC’s blacklisting. “Well, I don’t think we will disagree on your description of Mr. Borrell’s action. It’s really not just a disgrace. But that position is no position. If we follow that policy line, where will we end up?” he said.
“We heard the commands by the high representative Joseph Borrell who didn’t probably make a step forward towards especially Revolutionary Guards and proclaimed it as a moving forward with the decisions to be taken to include into the terrorist list. He based his decision on the Court of Justice, and the European Court must step in into this story. But we all know that general Soleimani was on the terrorist list, and he’s a very part of that guard, he added.
We are of the strong belief that further actions must be followed. So that’s why we took note of the position of Mr. Borrell, but I don’t think it’s a final position of the European Union. I’m looking forward to our discussion and probably the decisions to be made in order to move our decision further. That’s why it is so important to have a common position and to project our actions for the future. He also condemned the regime’s “direct participation in the Russian aggression against Ukraine.”
The second speaker and co-chair of Wednesday’s event, former EP’s Vice-President, Dr. Alejo Vidal Quadras, began his remarks by telling Mrs. Rajavi that all the speakers are “united in our common purpose to have regime change in Iran, to have freedom and democracy for the Iranian people. Indeed, over all these years, the steadfast work of the NCI and the PMOI has been very inspiring for us”. “You have demonstrated that the possibility, the reality of having regime change in Iran, is not a dream. It’s within reach. And the present uprising of the Iranian people is also proof of that. The protest’s oppression is terrible, murderous, and criminal. The Mullahs have done everything in their power to suppress these protests,” he added. While calling out the regime’s crimes during the recent uprising, Mr. Vidal said: “It is really a scandal that the international community has not yet reacted to in proportion to the crimes that the Iranian regime is committing against its own people. You have said something that it’s worth underlining.” Referring to the Iranian people’s demand for democracy and refusing any form of dictatorship by chanting “down with the oppressor, be it Shah or the [Supreme] leader,” Mr. Vidal underlined that the “people in Iran do not want any dictatorship. They reject the Shah dictatorship, and they reject the religious dictatorship. They want freedom and democracy, and they do not want to go back to experiences in the past that have failed so miserably.”
“The Ten Point Plan is a political agenda that any democrat in Western democracies could sign. I could sign it immediately because everything there is what a true democrat wants. Separation of religion and state, equality between men and women, free elections, respect for all political persuasions, respect for all religions, freedom of religion, autonomy, and recognition of ethnic minorities, and autonomy, for instance, for Kurdistan, of course, in a united Iran. So free enterprise, friendship with all other countries in the world, and reject of nuclear weapons,” Mr. Vidal said in support of Mrs. Rajavi’s ten-points plan for the future of Iran. Rejecting Josep Borrel’s comment that the European courts should order the IRGC’s blacklisting, Mr. Vidal said that “the decision of blacklisting a terrorist organization is a decision of the executive branch.”
While pointing out the process of the MEK’s unjust terrorist designation by Western powers and the organization’s subsequent victory, Mr. Vidal said: “A court can remove an organization from the list, which is completely different.” He reminded the audience that when the NCRI and PMOI were unjustly blacklisted, The courts in Europe, in Washington, in Luxembourg, in London, removed our friends from the list. But when Borrel says that it’s necessary to have a court decision. To say it mildly, he is not telling the truth. And we are very disappointed about this because the parliament has been very clear in the resolution.“The Revolutionary Guards are terrorists, and they must be blacklisted,” he said. “Decades of appeasement have given no result. Forty years of appeasement have given no result. It is time for the European Union to back the struggle of the Iranian people for democracy and freedom. It is time for the European Union to support the Iranian opposition, the NCRI, and you, Mrs. President,” Mr. Vidal underlined the need for the EU to end its appeasement policy and support the Iranian Resistance.
“The sacrifice of the Iranian people these days is a unique opportunity to isolate the regime internationally. And it’s an opportunity we cannot, and we should not miss,” he concluded.
“Parliament supports you. I was one of the negotiators of the resolution,” said MEP Frederique Ries from Renew group. While referring to the Iranian regime’s policy of taking foreign nationals as hostages to put pressure on Western countries, MEP Ries said that “We are proud to remain very firm on what has to happen [in Iran] and at the same time have a strong focus on the humanitarian case of our hostages.”
MEP Milan Zver from Slovenia, who has been supporting the Iranian people and their Resistance, said: “I’m extremely concerned about the human rights situation in Iran. The people of Iran are struggling and demanding regime change.” “I believe it is unacceptable that the EU’s response is not in line with the realities on the ground in Iran. I’m disappointed that the European Foreign Affairs Council did not follow the call of the European Parliament to add the Revolutionary Guards to the EU terrorist list,” he said, calling out the EU’s refusal to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organization. “The failure of the EU to designate the Iranian [Revolutionary] Guards as a terrorist organization is contrary to the Iranian people’s demand and is putting European security at risk,” he added.
He also underlined that the IRGC is naturally a “terrorist entity, and it functions as a terrorist organization and has been responsible also for many terrorist attacks outside of Iran. So, we need to continue to work within the EU for additional measures and sanctions.” “I hope that in 2023 the people will win for democracy and freedom in Iran. And, of course, altogether from different groups of politics,” MEP Pierre Larrouturou said. He also expressed his utter support by saying that “We want to help you. We 100%, 200% agree with you. Of course, we must push for a stronger position in Europe.” “Yes, it’s a terrorist regime, and yes, you are a woman with friends who want freedom and liberty, and we are with you to help you,” MEP Larrouturou concluded.
MEP Zver also appreciated the Iranian Resistance’s effort in European Parliament to adopt the resolution calling for the IRGC’s terrorist designation.
MEP Stephanie Yon-Courtin from the Renew group in France was the next speaker to express her support of the Iranian people and the organized Resistance movement.“I just wanted to assure you of my support, together with all my colleagues here. And I just wanted to tell you how much we think of you. We support you at the European Parliament and also in France, talking with other friends and other national Parliamentarians.” “I’m really sad about what’s going on. Of course, we need to act more on our side. I think the European Parliament has made a lot these past few days, but we definitely need to engage and ask our governments to do more,” she added.
“So that’s why we need to act at the European level. And I’d like Joseph Borrel to take concrete action. Help you, of course, and help us all to defend your idea. The people of Iran are suffering a lot. They are very courageous, and we cannot leave our friends like that. So we are at your disposal, really, and we do whatever I can to help, of course,” MEP Yon-Courtin added.