American human rights activist and writer Kerry Kennedy spoke before the “Free Iran” conference.
Abu ʾl-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi was a Persian poet and the author of Shahnameh ("Book of Kings"), which is the national epic of Iran. Ferdowsi is celebrated as the most influential figure in Persian literature and one of the greatest in the history of literature.
Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, asked the enormous crowd gathered in Paris to take up Ferdowsi’s call. His famous words to the king who subsequently abused him were, “Heaven’s vengeance will not forget. Shrink, tyrant, from my words of fire, and tremble at a poet’s ire.”
Excerpts from her remarks follow:
We are here today because we believe in freedom. We stand in solidarity with the Iranian people. We stand against the mullahs who have caused untold terror to your beloved country with their oppression and reign of terror. The mullahs denied the people of Iran the pride of their extraordinary heritage, a heritage admired across the globe.
So today in recognition of the great gifts of the great land of Iran, it is time for the mullahs to live up to the legacy of respect for freedom and human rights, which are the legacy and the proper inheritance of the Iranian people. The mullahs target refugees in Camp Liberty and Iraq, freedom fighters in Syria, and dissidents, journalists, protesters, ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights defenders in Iran.
The largest group the mullahs target makes up fully half the population of the country and that is women. There has been a horrific increase in acid attacks against women perceived to be in violation of the dress code. Recently special forces known as the promoters of virtue (and preventers of vice), the morality police, attacked with batons those who dared protest against these policies. It is time to free Iran.
Ferdowsi was the greatest Iranian poet. When he turned in the manuscript that took 35 years to write and the king abused him, he spoke truth to power. He wrote, “Heaven’s vengeance will not forget. Shrink, tyrant, from my words of fire, and tremble at a poet’s ire.” Today let us all take up Ferdowsi’s call. Let the mullah tyrants tremble and shrink as we join with the people in Iran and speak truth to power. It is time to free Iran.