By: Alejo Vidal-Quadras
The leading voices for democracy in Iran recently spoke out in an online conference spanning three days and incorporating participation from more than 100 countries. The Free Iran Global Summit was organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and featured speeches on Friday, Sunday, and Monday from the NCRI’s President-elect Maryam Rajavi, as well as a wide range of lawmakers and policy experts who had endorsed the NCRI as the best and most viable alternative to the existing theocratic system.
The three-day video conference took the place of the Free Iran rally that typically occurs on a single day each summer, with panel discussions on adjacent dates. The in-person gathering was, of course, rendered impractical by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The summit’s composite gatherings reportedly spanned 30,000 individual locations from over 100 countries. The NCRI’s President-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi was the keynote speaker and multiple American congressmen, former officials from the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security, British and European members of parliament, human rights lawyers and scholars of international relations were also among the speakers.
The summit’s program also included recorded remarks from several activists living inside Iran and advancing the work of MEK’s “resistance units” that aim to spearhead the overthrow of the Iranian regime.
The fact that this year the summit took place in spite of the difficulties created by the pandemic was a testimony to the NCRI’s ability to organize and manage an unprecedented event which no one, even the governments, has attempted to do so. This unprecedented event once again demonstrated that the NCRI is the best and most viable alternative to the Iranian regime.
This was the feeling of many participants which was echoed in the remarks of most of the speakers.
“This is a historic event. I think we’ve made it into the Guinness Book of World Records, I don’t believe there has ever been this large a global meeting on Zoom in history. So, it is really impressive. And let me tell you that an event like this does not happen without not only hard work but an organization such as the NCRI that once again has proven its determination, its competence, and its persistence to do things that others would never try to do. And that happens because of the commitment to principle and purpose that’s part of the NCRI.” said Former U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman.
“It is a real tribute to the organizational skills of the NCRI that we could pull together in the middle of a worldwide pandemic this kind of gathering to bring together old friends and new friends in support of freedom for the people of Iran.” Linda Chavez, former White House Director of Public Liaison said in her remarks.
Former US Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge said: “I don’t believe to date that any enterprise or any organization, large or small, government or private sector, has undertaken such an extraordinary effort with such unique and powerful results. One would think that if you take that ingenuity and that creativity and that commitment to excellence and that positive reach and positive connection globally if you took that mindset that exists outside of Iran and you relocate it inside Iran, what a different, positive place the country would be at this point.”
“This organization proves the technical logistical and technological capacity of a structure that knows how discipline and method are necessary conditions for the mobilization and success of its old dream for a free and democratic Iran. Because that is the driving force behind this unprecedented event.” Said Rama Yade, former French Minister of Human Rights.
And Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York said: “ They know that this organization is a total threat to them, and when they see today this gathering of people taking advantage of Zoom and the new modern methods of communication, and our ability to broadcast throughout Iran despite their best efforts to block us, they realize they have a formidable foe. They realize and can foresee how this group could easily stand up an interim government that could be a bridge to a permanent Democratic free prosperous and wonderful Iran because the Iranian people deserve that. And the Iranian people can sustain that.”
The summit effectively took the place of an international rally that is typically hosted by NCRI. The annual proceedings were naturally impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, but the organizers and would-be attendees were clearly convinced that some version of the event was at least as important in 2020 as it had been in any recent year. Much of that importance stems from the fact that the Free Iran Global Summit represents an opportunity to show that there is an organized movement, and alternative to replace the country’s theocratic dictatorship with a truly democratic system of government, and this year’s virtual summit clearly demonstrated that.
Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a professor of atomic and nuclear physics, was vice-president of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014. He is President of the International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ)