MEK Iran: Why the Basij Force is so Hated in Iran
The IRGC’s Basij Force is probably the most hated element of the Iranian regime’s armed forces. It has been used in the past against perceived enemies, such as against Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War but more recently it has taken up the role of policing and suppressing any kind of resistance or protest within Iran.
The Basij is only one of five different arms of the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC). The other arms are the Navy, the Air Force, the Quds Force, and the Ground Forces. It is the Basij that is the most important armed force used in repressing the people of Iran and by doing so maintaining the mullahs in the position of power they still hold.
What are the consequences of lifting Iran's Arms Embargo?https://t.co/1zffuLIhrI Internal reports exposed by #NCRI reveal Khamenei decided to enter nuclear talks to take advantage of IRGC's regional aggression, as it became serious P5+1 turned blind eye to all crimes #DisbandIRGC pic.twitter.com/TIyfvMh9H7
— Iran Freedom (@4FreedominIran) September 1, 2020
How the Basij was first established
After the mullahs established power in 1979 when the Iranian Revolution removed the Shah, the new Supreme Leader, Ruhollah Khomeini, established the Basij as a force. Initially, their main purpose was to combat the growing influence of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran). Official recognition by the Iranian Parliament (the majlis) came in 1980.
FACT: Khomeini's fatwa allowed children to be sent to war WITHOUT parents' consent.
In the Iran-Iraq war, thousands were snatched from school, given plastic keys to heaven & used in human waves to clear minefields.
If you're a parent, imagine your kid not returning from school. pic.twitter.com/Qj1XD6SrsG
— M. Hanif Jazayeri (@HanifJazayeri) September 24, 2020
In the 1980s, the role of the Basij was to recruit schoolboys and send them to the frontline in the Iraq-Iran War. The war lasted eight years and killed many tens of thousands of these boys. Their main job was to walk over areas of the frontline that had been planted with landmines. The boys were promised that if they were killed they would go to heaven.
— MEK Iran (Mujahedin-e Khalq) (@MEK_Iran) December 5, 2019
After the war was finally over, the Basij turned its attention to imposing the moral code on the public as dictated by the theocracy. This initiative was called “Promoting Virtue and Forbidding Vice.”
The Basij was increasingly used to curb any kind of perceived dissent. Measures used included clubbing, teargas, shooting, and arrest. There have been many incidents in which the heavy-handed tactics of the Basij have been employed over the last two decades.
May 13, Tehran University #Iran
More video clips of clashes between plain clothes agents and security forces on one side with students continue.#IranProtest @USAdarFarsi #HumanRights @USUN pic.twitter.com/MiCWCINRRw
— Iran Freedom (@4FreedominIran) May 13, 2019
A few early examples included the attack on the uprising by students at Tehran University on July 9th, 1999. Three students were killed, 1,000 were injured and 1,000 more were arrested. The following year, protests in cities across Iran were suppressed by the Basij.
By 2008, the organization of the Basij had become more sophisticated. Every province had its own Basij command post. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the former IRGC chief outlined the Basij’s role as one of combating any kind of public protest or sign of dissent.
Jafari said at the time: “we assign the task of fighting the soft threat to the popular Basij, the semi-soft threats to the military Basij units and the hard threats to the IRGC Ground Forces and military Basij units.”
Regime elites send their own children to the US/Europe for education and use impoverished Iranian teenagers in #Iran to crack down on #IranProtests. Images show Basij forces (IRGC's paramilitary branch) training teenagers, teaching them how to stand against protesters. pic.twitter.com/83FZoQd9pW
— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) August 19, 2020
The Basij were instrumental in brutally suppressing the nationwide protests in 2009. “The Basij forces had to fight back with clubs and sticks,” said Ezattollah Zarghami, head of state radio and television, in explanation of the use of the Basij. After these attacks, Ali Khamenei appointed Mohamad Reza Naqdi as the chief of the Basij and upgraded its supposed purpose as an “Organization for the Mobilization of the Oppressed.”
Amnesty International issued a call after the bloody crackdown in 2009 for the Basij not to be used against civilians. This was ignored and the number of battalions and branches increased as the key role of suppressing protesters was viewed as essential by the mullahs.
Use of social media by the Basij
Suppression of dissent using the medium of social media began in 2008. Thousands of blogs were created by Basij bases in an attempt to regulate and control the use of social media by anyone opposed to the regime. “Around 18,000 individuals worked on the internet to hand obtain information and deliver them to intelligence, security, and judicial institutions,” according to the deputy judiciary chief in 2016, Abdolsamad Khorramabadi.
#Iran’s most hated paramilitary force
The Basij, a subdivision of the IRGC, is the main force used in suppressing protests & imposing crackdown measures on people who refuse to abide by mullahs’ fundamentalist laws that are much hated among Iranianshttps://t.co/r4k6tVXETy pic.twitter.com/YStrKa2yuK
— Kazem (@Kianoosh_sa1) October 15, 2020
Protests took place in 2017, 2018, and again in November 2019. The Basij was the main instrument of oppression in all these protests. The worst by far was the vicious attack on protesters in November 2019. According to (PMOI / MEK Iran) more than 1,500 protesters were killed by Basij and IRGC forces.
Ali Khamenei praised the actions of the Basij after these protests were halted. Reuters confirmed in a special report on December 23, 2019, about the deadly crackdown on November nationwide protests in Iran the death toll of 1500 that was announced by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran) on December 15, 2019.