Iranian Nowrouz Celebrated At European Parliament
OfficialWire News Bureau – By Hamid R. Taherzadeh 02 April 2012
BRUSSELS (BELGIUM) – On Wednesday 28 March 2012, a parliamentary intergroup in the European Parliament, Friends of a Free Iran (FoFI) organized an event to celebrate the Persian New Year, Nowrouz, which coincides with the beginning of Spring.
This was the second year that FoFI had organized a Nowrouz feast in European Parliament’s premises in Brussels.
The event was in solidarity with the Iranian Opposition and refugees in camps Ashraf and Liberty in Iraq.
A number of Euro MPs representing different political groups and European States spoke at the event.
The hall where the ceremony was held had been beautifully decorated with traditional Iranian handicrafts, carpets and pictures. People dressed in local costumes representing different regions of Iran greeted the guests many of whom were parliamentary assistants and staff. Several renowned Iranian musicians in exile performed traditional Iranian music which was warmly welcomed by the audience.
Tunne Kelam, Member of European Parliament (MEP) from Estonia and a longstanding member of FoFI hosted the event. In his opening remarks Mr Kelam introduced FoFI as “an intergroup which has existed over eight years and includes over 100 Members of the European Parliament representing practically all political groups.”
He referred to his 2008 visit of Camp Ashraf, home to several thousand members of the main Iranian opposition group PMOI or MEK in Iraq.
“I still remember many faces, but unfortunately several of them have in-between been killed or wounded.”
“These brave people who have been dedicating their lives to democracy are the seeds to a new democratic and secular Iran.”
“What we need after the Arab Spring last year is a Persian Spring!” Mr Kelam stressed. “The Iranian fate is the fate of Europe.”
FoFI Chairman and President of European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq said: “The Iraqi government has insisted that Ashraf be closed, forcing the residents to move to a former, dilapidated US military base near Baghdad, where already 1200 have been crushed into a tiny, half-square kilometre prison-like facility, with crumbling infrastructure. Camp Liberty, despite its name, is infested with Iraqi police and soldiers who patrol and intimidate the residents, many of whom are women.”
“It is disgraceful that the US continues to maintain the PMOI-NCRI on the US State Department black list. This is used continually by the Iraqi government as an excuse to attack and persecute these innocent people.
“Now the State Department facing yet another demand by the American courts has come up with the lame excuse that Hilary Clinton has been too busy travelling around the world to have time to consider this issue.
Jan Zahradil, Vice President of European Parliament’s Conservative and Reformists group from Czech republic, said: “I remember three years ago, when my country was chairing the EU Council, we succeeded in removing the PMOI from the European black list. We now have to continue for a global delisting of PMOI from the blacklist in US.” “Rest assured that we will be with you all the way.”
Jim Higgins, a member of the European parliament’s Bureau from Ireland said: “Unfortunately, the story today is a sad one when the United States seem to have decided to turn a blind eye.”
“Two weeks ago, when UN ambassador Martin Kobler was here, I put a straightforward question to him. I asked: Mr Ambassador, can you guarantee that when these people go to camp liberty, the atrocities that took place in 2009 and 2011 will not repeat? And he answered: I cannot give you that guarantee!”
Ryszard Czarnecki, MEP and former Polish EU Minister said: “I have been supporting the Iranian resistance and the movement of Mrs Rajavi for many years. I think the progress you have made in these years is exemplary to all of us.”
“We in Poland have had a long experience with Dictatorships. And I am glad to say that our experience shows that no dictatorship lasts forever.”
Also from the Czech Republic, MEP Richard Falbr, from the Socialists and Democrats said: “We have always helped PMOI in all their efforts. It is a shame that they are being moved to a Concentration Camp named Liberty. We will never stop our help to the Iranians in Ashraf and those in Iran in their fight against the dictatorship of the Mullahs.”
Marian Harkin, MEP from the Liberals said: “The Iranian people, especially the women, have suffered so much in these years under this religious dictatorship. Eight female members of the PMOI in Ashraf lost their lives during the attacks by Iraqi forces last year.”
“I too want to add my voice to my colleagues, asking the US to take the PMOI off the black list and also ask the UN to live up to their commitments with regard to the people in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty.”
Also present at the event, FoFI founder Paulo Casaca from Portugal, criticised US State Department for claiming to be “too busy” to decide on changing their unjustified hostile policy towards the PMOI. “They must have been too busy filling the press with comments from anonymous officials to tarnish the image of Iranian opposition.”
Edit Bauer, MEP from Slovakia and a staunch supporter of women rights said: “I feel that the women in the Iranian opposition and its inspiring leader Mrs Maryam Rajavi who is very committed and has made many sacrifices for freedom and democracy in Iran give us a lot of hope for a free democratic Iran in future.”
The most applauded part of the program was the live performance of Iranian folk and traditional music. I played the Tar, joined by singer Gissoo Shakeri and one of the most distinguished Iranian composers Mohammad Shams who played the piano and other fine musicians who performed violin, flute and Persian percussions. Another group headed by a renowned composer and pianist Shapour Bastansiar accompanied by other Persian instruments played cheerful Iranian New Year and folk melodies from different regions of Iran.
A YouTube link of the speeches is avaliable here
Dr Hamidreza Taherzadeh, won the most prestigious award of Iran’s best musician of the year in 1978. Outside Iran he studied music in London Royal Academy of Music and has performed more than 300 concerts for peace and freedom with various symphonic orchestras in Europe and USA. He had the honour of working with great musicians such as Yehudi Menuhin and late” Marzieh”, the legendary Iranian diva.