By Mahmoud Hakamian
For the Iranian regime, staying power means oppressing all voices that challenge their rule, particularly the human rights abuses and strict laws on everything from who you can socialize with to how you dress in public. Yet, one group has been the main focus of the regime’s efforts to suppress and undermine their voice in support of a free Iran. That group is the MEK.
When the MEK was removed from the U.S. list of terrorist groups, Iranian regime House Speaker Ali Larijni said during his speech on June 23, “Now it’s you (the United States) who are sponsor of terrorism and even mother of terrorism, yet you accuse the Iranian regime of sponsoring terrorism. Your accusations are shameful…Today, the Americans removed the MEK from their list of terrorist groups.”
News agencies, including the Fars agency under the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have revealed the concerns of the regime over what they see as a dangerous turn of events, now that Camp Liberty’s residents have been relocated to Europe. On June 20, Fars reported that the move was a reminder of (MEK’s) declaring war against the regime.
After adding a few more claims against the MEK, the article went on to reveal the regime’s fear of another uprising, such as those that occurred in July 1999 and 2009. “The group’s (MEK’s) increased activities and their efforts for creating chaos and making a creeping coup was so intense over a period of time that many thought it was over for the regime on July 9, 1999. Their coordination was even further revealed during the 2009 uprising,” said the Fars news agency.
The press in Iran is controlled by the regime and the IRGC, so it is a source of frustration that thanks to satellite television, the opposition is able to expose the regime’s activities. These include the exposing of insecure, bankrupt institutions belonging to state entities, such as the IRGC, a move aimed at informing the Iranian people.
“Some satellite channels linked to MEK have released a clip showing that Samen institution has gone bankrupt, scaring investors into rushing to Samen Bank branches,” said a regime official.
But this is nothing to the latest efforts of various families to receive justice for their loved ones killed in the 1988 massacreMEK: The Opposition the Iranian Regime Wants to Silence of political prisoners. Fearing the spread of this movement, regime leader Ali Khamenei has spoken out against this movement, which focuses on justice for those MEK members executed.
According to Khamenei, “We’ve recently been hearing some tribunes attacking regime’s records during the 80’s. I recommend those who are thoughtful not to mistake executioners for martyrs when judging the 80s events. Iranian people were oppressed at the time. Terrorists, MEK, their supporters and those who raised them and constantly blew them persecuted the Iranian people. They did bad things. The Iranian people were forced to take a defensive position.”
By Iranian people, Khamenei meant nothing more than his own ruling class of mullahs. The fact is that the 80s is the decade when 30,000 political prisoners were massacred, and the decade when pregnant women, 13-year-old girls, and 70-year-old mothers were part of those who were killed.
Following Khamenei’s speech, a rush of state-run media and other outlets launched a wave of attack and false accusations against the MEK, a move which was even further escalated a few days later following Khamenei’s fire-at-will order. These supporters of the Iranian regime called MEK the killers and that the order from Khomeini was meant to protect the country by killing anyone, including MEK members and supporters, who still stood their ground and supported the MEK.
What it boiled down to was anyone considered pro-MEK was a threat to the regime, and this was true even if they did nothing against the regime but support an alternative set of political ideals. Efforts to portray the MEK and political prisoners massacred during the 80s as executioners were significantly increased in Friday prayer events and the regime’s media following the ISIS attacks in Tehran.
While acknowledging the massacre of MEK members in 1988, Assadollah Imani said in Shiraz Friday prayer show, “if MEK had not been repressed in 1988, you were faced with such plights everyday over the past 20 years. Khomeini knew well how to deal with MEK.”
The attacks on the MEK in the media aren’t limited to just the leaders and supporters of the MEK, but are also showing the cracks within the factors of the regime itself. In Mashhad, the city’s Friday Prayer Imam Alamolhoda attacked Rouhani for the increased popularity of the MEK and the movement seeking justice for victims of the 1988 massacre.
“Today, we are faced with such a problem. To gain power and push away their rivals, they defend (MEK) so much that the supreme leader is forced to shout not to mistake executioner for martyr. Those claiming to run the regime are actually defending the MEK,” said Alamolhoda.
Others argue that the release of the Hassanali Montazeri audio tape detailing the roles of the death commissions in the 1988 massacre has benefited those groups who would like to see the end of the regime’s repressive fundamentalism.
“The audio file was released right when counter-revolutionary elements and media had prepared their same old programs against the Iranian regime to mark the anniversary of the execution of MEK members. Besides, MEK was holding a gathering in Paris at the time,” said the Judiciary’s Mizan news agency.
The publication of an audio recording of Mr. Montazeri’s meeting with four officials of the regime responsible for the 1988 massacre has sent shock waves throughout the regime.
That gathering is being held again in Paris on July 1. During this gathering, the opposition will lay out their case for a Free Iran, one that doesn’t include the fundamentalism and repression of the regime. As part of this event, speakers from various leadership bodies in the international community will show their support for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a coalition of opposition movements determined to create a peaceful regime change.
The above-mentioned facts are just a handful of the whole sack of the weight, popularity, and effect of the MEK in today’s Iran. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the NCRI, has called for the formation of the movement to obtain justice for the victims of the 1988 massacre.
“This is a very important document attesting to several basic realities. First, the audio clip contains explicit confessions by those responsible for the massacre regarding their participation in an ongoing genocide. It shows that Khomeini and his entourage contravened even their own procedures and routines and were directly involved in the massacre. It also indicates that the religious tyranny solidified the foundations of the next repugnant Velayat-e-Faqih (absolute clerical rule) as a result of this genocide,” said Rajavi.
The rise of Khamenei was concocted during the massacre of political prisoners, which was orchestrated by the highest officials at the time, namely Ali Khamenei, Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ahmad Khomeini.
Another point made by Mr. Montazeri is that Khomeini had been deliberating about the massacre starting three or four years before it actually occurred and as his son repeatedly stated, he had decided to execute all “the Mojahedin, including those who read their newspaper, to those who read the magazines, and those who read flyers.”
Khomeini feared the MEK’s deep roots in Iranian society and the movement’s strength and determination. In a letter, which he wrote a few months later to Montazeri, Khomeini explained the reason for the latter’s ouster as heir to the supreme leader, “It has now become clear that after me, you will give up this country and the dear Islamic revolution of Iran’s Muslim nation to liberals and through them to the (Mojahedin).”
The reality is that the increasing popularity of the MEK is seen by the regime as a dangerous development. All the efforts of the mullahs have been focused on pretending the events of the 1980s never happened, minimizing the crimes, or even attributing them to the MEK itself. This strategy was formulated by Khomeini himself and has continued in the decades since.
The NCRI and their supporters have called on the international community to support the people of Iran in their demand for the prosecution of the Iranian regime’s leaders. As human rights advocates and international bodies have continued to demonstrate Iran’s record of repression, this movement by the opposition to obtain justice and freedom for this country includes changing the direction of Iran’s influence in the Middle East as well. The United Nations and the UN Security Council must adopt political and legal arrangements for the international prosecution of leaders of this regime on the charge of committing crimes against humanity.
A formal international condemnation of the 1988 massacre is a necessary step towards ending all the mass executions within Iran, an episode that was recently repeated in the concurrent execution of 25 Sunni prisoners. Finally, the movement to obtain justice is a relentless campaign by our compatriots and all supporters of the Iranian Resistance for the international prosecution of Khamenei and other regime leaders for committing genocide and crimes against humanity.