LIVE REPORTS: Free Iran march in Brussels
Iranian supporters of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK) are rallying outside the Council of the European Union in Brussels today to protest the violent and barbaric dictatorship in Iran. The rally is sponsored by dozens of associations and rights groups who support the NCRI’s calls for a free, democratic, non-nuclear Iran, where there will be no capital punishment and the essential freedoms and gender equality are guaranteed. We will be updating this live report as the event unfolds.
17:00: The Iranian protesters who've gathered opposite the EU headquarters today, are now beginning their march in central Brussels. There are chants in support of freedom and democracy in Iran. Supporters of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) are holding portraits of Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi as the march gets underway. One of the banners reads "Solidarity with the Iranian Resistance and people's uprising."
Mohammad Mohaddessin, Chair of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee
16:50: Mohammad Mohaddessin, Chair of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee, said:
Today, the inhuman regime of mullahs ruling Iran is in its final phase and the Iranian people and their Resistance are determined to topple this regime and establish a popular and democratic government, in our shackled country.
The PMOI's Resistance Units are the leading force in this sacred battle and the organizers of the Iranian people’s uprising. You, PMOI (MEK) supporters, are accompanying them.
Dear compatriots, while surrounded by the escalating outrage of the people and in fear of the end of the appeasement era, the Iranian regime tries to regain its stability by increasing oppression, attacking ships and launching missiles and drones. But these actions will only expedite their downfall.
The recent attack on oil tankers and the meeting of Khamenei with the Japanese Prime Minister once again showed that negotiation and conciliation will achieve nothing and have opposite results.
The only way is the overthrow of this regime, this is an absolute need for peace and security in the Middle East and across the world.
Let me remind the EU that the time of this regime is up. Do not tie your destiny to this regime. Put an end to appeasement. Do not fuel this regime’s terror and war machine.
Dear friends, PMOI (MEK) supporters, as we get ready for the march, we chant together: 'Down with Khamenei, Viva Viva Rajavi.' Undoubtedly these slogans will terrify Khamenei and Rouhani."
The Iranian singer Gisoo Shakeri
16:40: The Iranian singer Gisoo Shakeri performs at the MEK's Free Iran rally in Brussels
Pierre Galand, former President of the European Branch of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
16:35: Pierre Galand, former President of the European Branch of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), expressed his support for toppling the mullahs’ regime and establishing democracy in Iran: “We’re here to tell the EU that it must respect its principles and support the struggle against the mullahs’ tyranny. We’ll stand hand in hand with the Iranian people to remove the dictatorship and establish democracy. The solution for Iran is the complete downfall of the regime.”
Kak Baba Sheikh Hosseini, Secretary-General of Iranian Kurdistan’s Khebat Organization
16:20: Kak Baba Sheikh Hosseini, Secretary-General of Iranian Kurdistan’s Khebat Organization highlighted the Iranian regime’s oppressive nature, how all Iraniains want this regime to be overthrown and the reality that the mullahs cannot be negotiated with:
“We are here to send our message to the regime and the international community that this uprising will continue until we overthrow this regime and establish a state founded on democracy, freedom and separation of church and state.
We support friendship with all parties in the Kurdistan region who support the overthrow of the regime and denounce any sort of negotiations with this regime. This is a regime that spread terrorism. The U.S. now knows that this regime is the main force of terrorism in the region and across the world.
The Iranian regime oppresses the people, especially Kurds, with different excuses. The regime has also imprisoned activists and has killed countless political prisoners. The international community must explain how they plan to appease a regime that is making the region unsafe with terrorism.
We ask the international community to stop appeasing this regime and to recognize our people's Resistance movement.”
NCRI Member Zinat Mirhashemi
16:10: NCRI Member Zinat Mirhashemi emphasized the fate of the entire region relies on the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Iran: "The regime is using different excuses to arrest anyone that is pursuing activities against it. The regime is plundering the people’s wealth to spread chaos and war in the region. The majority of the Iranian people want regime change and they know that there’s no hope for change in their living conditions while the regime still stands.
The Iranian dictatorship neither wants, nor can, respond to the needs of the people, which is why there are an increasing number of protests across the country.
Only the people of Iran and their organized resistance can bring democratic change to Iran. This is totally different from war and appeasement.
Without the overthrow of the Iranian regime, none of its internal factions can fulfill the needs and demands of the people. We call on the solidarity front against the regime and support the establishment of a secular and democratic state.”
Syrian human rights activist and former judge Haitham Maleh
16:00: Syrian human rights activist and former judge Haitham Maleh highlighted the terrorist nature of the mullahs’ regime and how Tehran has wreaked havoc across the region for the past 40 years: “The Syrian regime is imprisoning and torturing prisoners with the blessing of the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime wants to burn the whole region to the ground. They think no one can stop them. The revolutionary forces of the region must come together against the regime. We need to see the downfall of the Iranian regime if we want stability in the region. Prior to this regime, there was stability in the region. Since the arrival of the Iranian regime, there has been chaos. The Iranian regime created terrorism.”
Sarvnaz Chitsaz, the NCRI Women’s Committee Chair
15:50: Sarvnaz Chitsaz, the NCRI Women’s Committee Chair reiterated the demands of the rally participants from the international community in regards to the Iranian regime: “This is a protest against the regime’s warmongering and terrorism, and to support the MEK's Resistance Units inside Iran. We want to reiterate the following:
The EU must denounce the regime’s human rights violations and it must form an international delegation to visit Iran’s prisons;
We demand the expulsion of the Iranian regime’s embassies as centers of espionage against Iranian refugees;
Designating the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) on the blacklist, especially in light of recent attacks in Gulf waters.
The Iranian Resistance has been paying the price of saying no to this regime for the past 40 years. We will continue to do so.”
Prof Eric David, Emeritus Professor
15:45: Prof Eric David, Emeritus Professor of international law at the Université libre de Bruxelles tells the protesters: "Some 120,000 activists of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) have been executed by Iran's regime since 1981 for political and religious reasons. The perpetrators of this crime should be tried, and I hope that this will happen soon."
Ingrid Betancourt, former Colombian Senator and Presidential candidate
15:35: Ingrid Betancourt, former Colombian Senator and Presidential candidate, who was held hostage for more than 6 years, is now addressing the Free Iran rally: "It is a great day of celebration because we are able to express ourselves freely and support the Iranian Resistance without being executed.
What is dangerous is not confronting the regime, it is dangerous for the EU to continue to be on its knees in front of the Iranian regime. What is dangerous is that the EU is terrified to bring to justice and condemn the Iranian regime's diplomat-terrorist who was trying to kill thousands of people at the MEK's Free Iran rally in Paris last June.
It is dangerous that EU leaders have forgotten who they are, the supposed defenders of human rights.
For a long time the West thought they should be cautious to find moderates within the Iranian regime, but what we have seen is more missile production, warmongering and interference in Syria and Yemen.
We want to tell the EU institutions and our leaders that we don’t want the Iranian nuclear deal with the regime, we need to support the Iranian people and Resistance as they put an end to the regime of Iran."
Former Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi
15:20: Former Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi tells supporters of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK or PMOI): "The European Union must blacklist Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) as a terrorist organization and expel all the Iranian regime's diplomats."
Minister Terzi emphasized the need for Europe to set aside its appeasement policy vis-a-vis Tehran and adopt a firm policy of sanctioning and blacklisting the Iranian regime’s malign entities: “It is important in this critical juncture of what is happening in the Persian Gulf today that we stand here and support the rights of the people of Iran.
Political conditions in Iran, especially in the past year, since the great uprising of the end of 2017, have changed profoundly. The regime is approaching its end. The people are suffering from economic conditions and lack of freedom. But their protests continue every day with enormous sacrifice and courage. They’re growing larger every day.
The MEK and NCRI, the main force of opposition against this regime, are advancing every day. Yet still some in Europe pretend there’s no alternative to the regime. There is a viable alternative. It is the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
All the criteria needed for an alternative are in the NCRI and in Mrs. Maryam Rajavi's 10-point plan. To counter the alternative presented by Mrs. Rajavi, the regime tries to fill cyberspace with fake alternatives and misinformation against the MEK.
All the Iranian people know that the oil money goes into the pockets of the mullahs and is used for terrorism and repression.
Iranian people support the blacklisting of the IRGC as a terrorist group by the EU.
The Iranian regime tries to portray the Iranian people as hating the MEK. The regime spreads false information in this regard. Unfortunately, some European institutions contribute to the dissemination of this false information. Instead of assisting the mullahs' regime, European governments must designate the regime’s MOIS as a terrorist entity, and they must expel all Iranian diplomat-terrorists."
Françoise Schepmans, a Member of Parliament from Belgium
15:15: Françoise Schepmans, a Member of Parliament from Belgium, highlighted women’s rights violations in Iran and how the mullahs’ regime is utterly terrified of the role women play in Iran’s struggle for freedom: "Today is a significant moment in order to support your movement and brave leader Maryam Rajavi. I'm waiting for the day when we could see a free Iran."
Iranian opposition President-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi
15:05: Iranian opposition President-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi addressed the demonstrators in a video message, saying, “The faltering Iranian regime is besieged by a nation that has risen up and has lost all patience. As in the final days of the Shah’s regime, members of the regime’s parliament are ‘sounding the alarm’ in speech after speech and warning of an ominous fate, that awaits the entirety of the regime… Rouhani and his cabinet ministers are insisting that in the past 40 years the regime has never faced such critical circumstances.”
Mrs. Rajavi added that the Iranian people “want the downfall of the entirety of the regime, crying out for regime change. If anyone can change the behavior of the religious fascists and clerical dictators of Iran without trampling on Iranians human rights and their right to determine their destiny, then by all means, we welcome it and say go ahead and change this regime’s behavior as much as you can.”
She added in her message that “Apologists for this regime and those that benefit from its continued rule feign concern for war and push for providing benefits to this regime and appeasing the ruling murderers in Iran.”
Mrs. Rajavi underlined that, “The regime’s strategy for survival in the deadly crisis of its last days, is to demonize the MEK and Iranian Resistance as the main threat, and lay the ground for further terrorist acts against them. This rational leads to the refrain that the devil we know is better and the Iranian nation is better off with this regime and everyone should submit to its rule.”
Mrs. Rajavi concluded in her message that, “The terrorist plots uncovered in European countries during the past year, such as the attempted bombings in Albania and France, the arrest of Iranian regime agents and its diplomat-terrorist Assadollah Assadi, and the expulsion of four diplomat-terrorists from Europe, provided ample proof of the accuracy of repeated warnings by the Iranian Resistance that the regime’s embassies in Europe are centers of criminal plots. Therefore, we call on the European Union to place comprehensive sanctions on the religious dictatorship ruling Iran, and to proscribe the IRGC and the MOIS as terrorist entities. Its agents must be prosecuted, punished, and expelled. The heads of the regime must account for their crimes against the Iranian people, especially the massacre of political prisoners, in an international court of law.”
Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former Vice-President of the European Parliament
15:00: Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former Vice-President of the European Parliament, tells the MEK supporters: “Let me first salute all of you for gathering here to be the voice of the Iranian people suffering from the rule of the mullahs. We call on the EU to condemn the regime for human rights violations.
Behind us is the European External Action Service (EEAS), I hope their windows are open to hear us, because for 20 years they have been deaf.
Eleven years ago, I had the honor and privilege of visiting the MEK residents in Ashraf 1 (Camp Ashraf), who were then transferred to Ashraf 2 (Camp Liberty) and are now in Ashraf 3, Albania. They are examples for all us, and by sacrificing everything they had, they gave meaning to our lives.
Several Iranian terrorists including a diplomat have been arrested for trying to bomb the MEK’s Free Iran rally last June. They are waiting to face justice, and I hope they get justice!
The regime’s agents are running a campaign of demonization against the MEK. We have to confront this, and this is a part of our campaign for human rights.
All the tireless efforts of the opposition for freedom in Iran are being carried out under the leadership of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi.”
Mark Demesmaeker, a Member of the European Parliament from Belgium
14:50: Mark Demesmaeker, a Member of the European Parliament from Belgium, is now addressing the rally: "Despite our differences, we all support a free and democratic Iran. I defend the right to self-determination for all religions. I’m glad the NCRI has adopted the right for Iranian Kurdistan to autonomy. For years, we’ve seen western countries try to appease the Iranian regime to moderate its behavior. But the results have been the opposite. Iran holds the highest number of executions per capita, the highest number of executions of women.
We saw the Villepinte bombing plot last year, where an Iranian diplomat handed over a bomb to a couple in Antwerp to cause massive casualties. Fortunately, the perpetrators were arrested and are awaiting trial.
We call on the expulsion of all Iranian terrorists from European soil. We also call for the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) to be placed on the European Union's blacklist.
Let’s work together to bring back humanity and democracy in Iran. You are the people of Iran."
Struan Stevenson, a former member of the European Parliament
14:45: Struan Stevenson, a former member of the European Parliament, welcomes protesters and declares his support for a free and democratic Iran: "We stand shoulder to shoulder with the MEK because our objectives are the same."