Human Rights,Iran Diplomat Terrorist,Iran Protests,Iran Terrorism,Maryam Rajavi,MEK,Mujahedin-e Khalq,National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI),NCRI,PMOI

Lord Maginnis a longtime supporter of MEK

Lord Maginnis Urges Western Lawmakers to Seize the Opportunity to Confront the Iranian Threat and Stand with the Iranian People

Lord Maginnis a longtime supporter of MEK

Archive Photo- Lord Maginnis (right) speaking at a news conference organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) exposing the Iranian regime’s rise in terrorist activities in Europe- September 2018

On Sunday, December 16th, the Daily Caller published an op-ed by Kenneth Maginnis, a member of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords. Maginnis’ article, entitled “2019 Brings New Opportunity to Topple the Iranian Regime”, urges policymakers and legislators around the world to re-examine their stance towards the Iranian regime in light of the developments of 2018.

A Year of Change

Maginnis points out that one year ago, “the 2015 nuclear deal was in full effect”, “Iran’s domestic situation appeared relatively stable”, and “the Iranian threat to Western nations was largely theoretical and vaguely defined”.

Now, twelve months later, the Us has re-imposed sanctions, Iran’s domestic situation is increasingly unstable, and “the United States and Europe have faced down at least four terrorist plots targeting Iranian activists on Western soil”.

The Trump administration’s shift away from appeasement and adoption of a tougher stance towards the Iranian regime has been welcomed by the Iranian opposition and the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK). However, Europe has been reluctant to follow T

Sanctions Could be on the Horizonrump’s lead.

That could be changing. Following further ballistic missile testing from the Iranian regime, the UN Security Council conducted a meeting which Maginnis says was at the request of the French and UK governments.

Following a foiled Iranian terror attack in Paris this summer, the French government conducted an investigation into Iranian state-sponsored terrorism in Europe. The investigation concluded without any doubt that the Iranian regime’s leadership was involved in the planning and execution of the June 30th plot.

Assadi’s Extradition Follows Months of Lies and Drama from Iranian Regime

After the conclusion of this investigation, there have been signs that the European Union may be rethinking its position and considering sanctions. 150 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) recently signed a statement calling for the expulsion of all regime agents involved in state-sponsored terrorism from European soil.

The Iranian Regime’s Position in Power Look Increasingly Precarious

In addition to international isolation, the regime’s position in power looks increasingly uncertain. The Iranian opposition and the MEK has had a major role in the spread of mass anti-government demonstrations in 2018. Demonstrations that Maginnis asserts, “the Iranian regime has been struggling to contain”.

What began as a huge nationwide protest that affected all of Iran’s major towns and cities in all 31 provinces, has splintered into numerous demonstrations affecting all of Iran’s key industries, including the steel industry, sugarcane, universities, teachers, logistics, and retail sectors.

Prior to 2018, the MEK’s leader, president-elect Maryam Rajavi, called for 2018 to be a “year full of uprisings”. It has not disappointed.

Even with the rampant protests taking place daily across Iran, Western policymakers have been slow to react. However, the situation is reaching a tipping point. Maginnis writes, “the evolution of Iran’s domestic situation has provided the world with an unprecedented opportunity to effectively confront this threat while also helping the Iranian people to bring about change in their country”.

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Ashraf 3 Conference interconnected to 41 other locations around the world-December 15, 2018

MEP Calls on Western Politicians to Recognise the Influence of the Iranian Opposition

Ashraf 3 Conference interconnected to 41 other locations around the world-December 15, 2018

The international conference of the Iranian communities, in Ashraf 3 (MEK’s residence in Albania)-December 15, 2018

Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and the former European Minister of Poland, Ryszard Czarnecki, had a piece published on Modern Diplomacy on December 15th. Titled, ‘The Success of Iranian Activism Shows the Way to Correct European Politics’, the piece calls on Western politicians to recognize the influence of the Iranian opposition within the Iranian political landscape and adjust their Iran policies accordingly.

Calls to Action

Czarnecki began his article by praising the increasing number of Western governments making a serious push for firm collective action against the Iranian regime. He cites the foiled terror attacks in Albania and Paris that took place this summer, as well as the arrest of two Iranian agents in the US on espionage charges, and the attempted assassination of a political dissident in Denmark as flashpoints that have led to a gradually hardening attitude towards the mullahs.

Pulling Back the Curtain on the Regime’s Foiled Terror Attacks

Following the failed bomb attack in Paris, the French authorities mounted an investigation and “concluded there was no doubt about Tehran’s responsibility for the Paris plot”. Czarnecki writes, “the stage was seemingly set for the entire EU to adopt economic sanctions that France had already imposed on the [Iranian] Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) and its agents”.

But the collective response and application of economic sanctions from the EU never came. “The desire for continued access to Iranian markets is surely part of the reason for this”, Czarnecki explains.

Another reason is that, unlike the US, Czarnecki asserts that European policymakers may not be as familiar with the pro-democratic forces already operating within the Iranian landscape. The People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), and the leader of Iran’s opposition, president-elect Maryam Rajavi, have a host of allies inside the Trump administration. As a result, American policymakers are aware of the organizational capabilities and popularity of the Iranian opposition within Iran.

Czarnecki wrote:

“It might also be said that the US administration is much more aware of the existence of powerful allies inside Iranian society and the expatriate population. After all, some White House officials and close confidants of the US president have been regular attendees at NCRI rallies, including the one that was nearly bombed in June.”

Czarnecki believes that Europe’s reluctance to adopt the US’s approach and administer economic sanctions “might evaporate altogether if more European policymakers were made aware of the organizational capabilities of the MEK”.

Even among the Iranian clerical regime’s leadership, there is an increasing willingness to acknowledge the MEK’s role in mobilizing the Iranian public. The Supreme Leader Khamenei blamed the MEK for the rapid spread of anti-government protests in December and January last year.

Iranian communities around the world have also been working tirelessly to demonstrate their support of the MEK and its leader. On December 15th, Iranian communities in 42 locations across the globe, including countries in Europe, North America, and Australia, hosted simultaneous conferences calling for a collective response from Western governments to the increased Iranian terror threat.

The global teleconference drew attention to the many strikes and protests raging across Iran’s key sectors. “The persistence of those demonstrations is a clear sign of the activist community’s strength and the very real prospects for the popular overthrow of the world’s most foremost state sponsor of terrorism”, Czarnecki writes.

Czarnecki concludes, “proper recognition of the Iranian democratic opposition will prove once and for all that a firm alternative is not only justified but imperative for a triumph of democracy in the Middle East”.

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Hassan Rouhani speaking at the Army day

Former Italian Foreign Minister Calls for European Sanctions

Hassan Rouhani speaking at the Army day

Hassan Rouhani speaking on “Army’s Day” to regime repressive forces- March 2018

Giulio Terzi, the former Foreign Minister for Italy, penned an opinion piece for Townhall on Friday, December 14th. The piece called for unified collective action from the European and US governments in the face of the escalating threat of Iranian state-sponsored terror.

In his piece, Terzi maps the heightened threat the regime poses to governments around the world. He describes how Albanian authorities detained Iranian agents planning an attack on the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) in March. He also cites the failed Iranian car bomb attack on the MEK’s Grand Gathering event in Paris that was foiled in June.

MEPs Demand Extradition of Iranian Regime Diplomat/Terrorist to Belgium in Letter to Merkel

“Had the plot been successful, there is no telling how many of the 100,000 attendees might have been killed, or whether the death toll would have included any of the hundreds of high-profile political dignitaries who visited from around the word”, Terzi wrote.

Shortly after the incident, a pair of Iranian agents were detained in the US on espionage charges. Once again, their target was the MEK. It is believed the pair were carrying out reconnaissance ahead of another planned terror attack against the Iranian opposition group.

Finally, Terzi describes how in October, Danish officials thwarted an assassination attempt by an Iranian intelligence agent to murder opposition activists on Danish soil.

Europe is Blinded by Greed

The United States re-imposed sanctions against the Iranian regime and under the Trump administration, has abandoned its policy of appeasement towards the barbaric and violent clerical regime in Iran.

Europe Should Expel Regime Diplomats, Agents

Terzi wrote, “it is perhaps difficult to understand why the EU has been so hesitant to follow suit”. He asserts that Europe is motivated by “short-sighted greed”. European nations and business want to remain active in Iranian markets.

Another factor at play, Terzi argues, is that European governments do not have an accurate understanding of the political landscape within Iran. They assume that the authoritarian dictatorship of Supreme Leader Khamenei is stable.

However, this could not be further from the truth. The regime is in an existential crisis as the calls for regime change have intensified among the Iranian public. Pro-democracy activists, like the MEK, are enjoying a surge in popularity, and the MEK-organised protest movement “represents perhaps the greatest threat to the theocratic dictatorship in its 40 years”.

Regime Experts Admit MEK’s Major Role in Recent Protests

2018 has seen protestors adopt explicitly anti-regime slogans, including, “death to the dictator”, and “death to Rouhani” or “death to Khamenei”.

Sanctions are Necessary to Curb Iranian Aggression

Terzi makes the case for the introduction of European sanctions against the Iranian leadership. “Sanctions to undermine the regime’s repressive institutions, will not only punish the mullahs for their belligerence but will also amplify the effects of the protest movement and provide Iran’s domestic activists with an all-important boost in morale”, he writes.

British Lord and Professor Urges the UK and Europe to Consider Any US Proposal for Further Iranian Sanctions

“There is an ever greater confrontation coming between the deeply unpopular theocratic regime and the increasingly influential democratic Resistance”, Terzi wrote. European policymakers can no longer ignore the reality of the situation in Iran. The mullahs’ days in power are coming to an end. To ignore this fact is to turn their back on democratic progress in the Middle-East.

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Former US Lawmaker, Patrick Kennedy speaking at a MEK rally-August 2018

Former US Lawmaker Makes the Case for Sanctions and Diplomatic Pressure Against the Iranian Regime

Former US Lawmaker, Patrick Kennedy speaking at a MEK rally-August 2018

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy delivers a speech during the MEK conference on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran. August 2018

On December 12th, 2018, Patrick Kennedy, a former Democratic Member of the House of Representatives wrote a piece for the National Interest calling for sustained sanctions against the Iranian regime. Kennedy addressed critics arguments that sanctions hurt the Iranian people and masterfully illustrated how this is not the case.

His piece, entitled “Sanctions Will Harm Only the Iranian Regime, Not the Iranian People”, begins with an assessment of the former Iran nuclear deal which, he argues, failed “to generate moderation in the behavior of the Iranian regime”.

Under the deal, Tehran was able to continue stockpiling and testing ballistic missiles and expand its nuclear program unhindered. The financial windfall that the deal brought to the Iranian leadership was spent on oppressive mechanisms within Iran, and expanding the regime’s violent intentions abroad.

“The cash windfall from the JCPOA [Iran deal] has been channeled solely into the pockets of the mullahs”, Kennedy said, “that money has done nothing to alleviate the poverty of ordinary Iranians”.

A Situation with a Precedent

Kennedy turns to history to remind the American people that the same fears have been raised before. In South Africa, during the apartheid era, opponents to sanctions raised fears that they would hurt the South African population and only add to their plight.

But both Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela assured the West that sanctions would speed up the end of apartheid. It worked, and South Africa today has emerged from the shadow of apartheid stronger than ever.

“The story is much the same with Iran”, Kennedy writes. “Many critics have suggested that new American pressure is harmful to both the people and the regime”, however, Kennedy suggests, “in reality, the protests and strikes in Iran’s cities have made it clear that the people recognize their economic hardships are rooted in the self-serving priorities of the mullahs, not international pressures”.

This has been evident in the slogans on display during recent protests in Iran. The Iranian public have been chanting, “the enemy is right here”, and “they lie when they say it is America”.

Despite the regime’s best efforts and continued dissemination of misinformation and lies, the public knows that the mullahs are the root of their financial troubles. “The ongoing crisis of unemployment, financial exploitation and currency devaluation began long before the new US sanctions or the US withdrawal from JCPOA”, Kennedy writes.

Meaningful Change is the Only Option

Donald Trump has set meaningful change as his goal, a vision the Iranian public shares. The people of Iran have seen the effects of the West’s decades-long policies of appeasement to the mullahs. They have emerged from it no better off, and no more convinced that meaningful change can occur without a tough stance from the West.

The Iranian opposition, the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) and its leader, president-elect Maryam Rajavi, declared 2018 a “year full of uprisings”. It believes that the determination and perseverance of the Iranian people can bring about meaningful change.

However, the MEK has remained adamant that the US government and its allies have a role to play. They are looking to the West to offer support in the form of sanctions and diplomatic pressure, similar to those adopted against the South African government to bring about meaningful change there.

“Sanctions will impede an unwanted regime’s ability to stave off an uprising by a long-suffering people desiring freedom and democracy”, Kennedy concluded.

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Khamenei's speech among regime's followers

Khamenei Warns Supporters that Protests Will Grow in 2019

Khamenei's speech among regime's followers

Iranian regime’s supreme leader sending warning to regime’s forces, to stay alert against enemy’s plots. A speech that clearly shows his fear of regime’s downfall.

The state-run Tasnim news agency recently broadcast remarks by regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in which he expressed his fear of the protest movement that has gained popularity in Iran over the past year.

In his remarks, Khamenei warned supporters of the regime about “the enemy’s schemes” for the upcoming year, which suggests that he doubts that the regime will be able to suppress the popular uprising that began in December of 2017 and continues almost one year later in the form of continuous strikes and protests across the country.

Khamenei attempted to blame the United States for the popular protests in Iran, saying that the U.S. planned to “create dispute and civil war with the help of sanctions and counter security measures” and to “drag people on the streets” to protest in Iran.

While meeting with the families of “Shrine Defenders” who were killed fighting in Syria and Iraq, the mullahs’ Supreme Leader said that “contrary to the irrelevant analysis of some people who were senseless and attached to the West,” the Iranian regime was still powerful.

Khamenei disputed an American official’s claim that the Islamic Republic would be gone before its 40th anniversary, saying that the regime would “celebrate the occasion grander than previous years,” Tasnim reported.

Mr. John Bolton speaking at the annual rally of the supporters of the MEK in North Paris, July 2017 said: “There is a viable opposition to the rule of the ayatollahs and that opposition is centered in this room today. I have said for over ten years since coming to these events that the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran. The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change, and therefore the only solution is to change the regime itself. And that’s why before 2019 we here will celebrate in Tehran.”

Khamenei’s fear showed through his bravado when he made his predictions for 2019.

“Though the enemy’s plans have been exposed, everyone must maintain their vigilance because the United States is a sinister and malicious enemy and may have intentions to deceive so that it could create tumult in 2018 but then, for example, have schemes for 2019,” he said.

Khamenei emphasized that those in the regime must be constantly vigilant against dissent among the Iranian people and that “everyone should be awake and alert.”

Khamenei alluded to an ominous “enemy” who threatened the regime, saying, “ If we are neglectful, the same enemy that is weak will show its hostility towards us.”

He further referenced enemies of the regime in a dire warning to regime officials. Khamenei said that “officials had to be careful so that the sinister enemy that has left out of the door, does not enter through the window.”

The Supreme Leader issued a specific warning to the youth of Iran, saying that his “advice to the Iranian people, especially the youth and various political groups was to be careful not to prepare the field for the enemy.” Iran’s young people have played a key role in the protest movement over the past year. Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, has repeatedly hailed the youth of Iran for their efforts in participating in protests and has called upon them to join with the MEK in standing with the Iranian people in opposing the regime. The regime sees the youth as a threat to their power.

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Iran's dictatorship gaining more popularity in Iran.

The Regime’s Fear is a Sign of Changing Times

 

Iran's dictatorship gaining more popularity in Iran.

A scene of one of the protests by the MEK supporters calling for regime change in Iran as the only solution to end the current dictatorship in Iran

An article in International Policy Digest by Professor Ivan Sascha Sheehan charts the Iranian regime’s increasing fears of the main opposition group the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK / Mujahedin-e Khalgh) and demonstrates that this increasing fear is a sign of changing times in the Iranian political landscape.

The Status Quo has Become ‘Untenable’

Professor Sheehan, the incoming Executive Director at the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Baltimore, wrote:

“There are growing signs that the status quo has become untenable”, in response to renewed US sanctions, continuous protests at home, a failing economy, and increasing international isolation, “the regime is finding it much more difficult to contain the situation”.

“The most defining aspect of Iran in 2018 has been the continuation of anti-government protests”, Sheehan suggests. Ahead of 2018, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)’s president-elect, Maryam Rajavi called for a year of protest and it has not disappointed.

The nationwide uprisings of January engulfed Iran’s cities and towns, expanding to more than 140 cities in all 31 provinces. According to Sheehan, it “shook the ruling theocracy to the core”. Confronted with such intense public outcry, the regime arrested political dissidents in the thousands, sentencing many to extreme punishments and lengthy jail terms.

The Iranian Regime Sentences Six to Between 8 and 18 Years in Prison for Protesting

“That movement has continued in different shapes and forms over the past 11 months”, Sheehan writes, “despite a heavy crackdown, waves of arrests, and long prison terms for protesters.”

Key Iranian industries have suffered been racked with strikes, including the logistics sector, education, the retail industry, and manufacturing. Many sectors were protesting appalling working conditions, unpaid wages, and the pandemic corruption that ravages the Iranian business and political landscape.

Anti-government Protests

Beyond poor working conditions and unpaid wages, the protests that have rippled across Iran in 2018 have taken a decidedly anti-government tone.

“In July, a five-day wave of anti-government protests proved to be the largest since January and encompassed more than a dozen cities throughout the country”, wrote Sheehan.

Similar anti-government took place across Iran’s major cities in June and August. “What makes recent and ongoing protests different from earlier movements”, Sheehan explained, “is that they are not limited to one part of the country or to any specific demographics.

What began as a grassroots movement among the “hungry and unemployed”, has spread to the urban middle classes, the working-class factory workers, college-educated students, inner-city shopkeepers, and younger segments of the population.

Iran: Steel Workers, Factory Workers, Drivers Strike Despite Regime Suppression

Sheehan writes, “at first, the protests were over dire economic hardship, exorbitant prices of basic staples, high unemployment, runaway inflation and the lack of some of the most basic social services including running water and electricity. But protests quickly became political with people calling for an end to dictatorship”.

Among the protestors demands now are an end to the financing of foreign terrorism, missile proliferation, and the frequent and blatant human rights abuses. The protestors are calling for more civil freedom, an end to institutionalized discrimination and sexism, and the eradication of regime corruption.

What began as an economic protest movement evolved into a defiantly anti-regime movement.

The Iranian Economy is in Free-fall

“The Iranian economy is in free-fall and is getting more precarious”, Sheehan writes. “The national currency, the rial, has lost about 75 percent of its value in the past seven to eight months”.

What makes the current economic crisis worse is that it has come at a time when the Iranian regime was still exporting 2.7 million barrels of oil a day and received $100 billion of unfrozen assets.

For the country to be in economic collapse despite this significant windfall and oil revenue demonstrates extensive economic mismanagement and pandemic corruption.

“The main cause of the economic collapse is the regime’s policies”, Sheehan explains, “the lion’s share of the government budget is allocated to the apparatus of domestic oppression and to financing terror and warmongering abroad”. Sheehan cites payments of around $12 to $15 billion annually to the Assad regime in Syria.

Corruption and economic mismanagement were even explicitly mentioned by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in his speech on August 13th. He referred to the plunder of $18 billion as an example of some of the embezzlement and corruption that plagues his regime.

But Khamenei is nothing more than a hypocrite. In public, he may lament the state of the Iranian economy, but the Supreme Leader has a personal slush fund worth $95 billion according to Reuters.

Sanctions Will be Effective

Given that the Iranian economy is under the control of 14 financial holdings, all of which are managed by the Supreme Leader and the regime itself, US and international economic sanctions will be able to end the stream of revenue flowing directly into the mullahs’ pockets and impact their ability to funnel finances to international terrorists and militia groups.

“This is one of the greatest sources of anxiety for Tehran”, Sheehan writes. Under President Trump, the US has ended its decades-long strategy of appeasement. Trump and Pompeo have indicated that they will use sanctions to stop Iran’s state-sponsored terrorism and human rights abuses.

The State Department has reintroduced strict economic sanctions on the Iranian auto-industry, financial institutions, and energy sector. The US has vowed to bring further sanctions to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero.

“The regime has been at a total impasse”, Sheehan writes, “since retreating from its strategic policies would mean major reform”— which Khamenei is adamant he will not do.

As Khamenei and Rouhani continue to dig their heels, the public has only grown louder in its demands for political reform and regime change. “The protests have been a game changer in the Iranian political landscape”, Sheehan exclaimed.

The Regime has Intensified Efforts Against the Opposition

In response to the impasse Tehran finds itself in, the regime has targeted the MEK and other Iranian political opposition groups. “The MEK’s modern, tolerant and democratic view on Islam has been the antithesis to the Islamic fundamentalism” presented by the mullahs.

Iran State Media Acknowledges MEK Can Topple Regime

“The ayatollahs were bent on annihilating it as a social and political force before they even took power”, Sheehan writes. Following their rise to power, the mullahs unleashed an “unbridled terror” campaign against the MEK and their supporters.

“Tens of thousands of MEK activists, men, and women, have fallen victim to brutal crackdowns. In the summer of 1988 alone… some 30,000 political prisoners— primarily MEK activists— were massacred”, Sheehan describes.

Today, the support and influence of the MEK are evident across Iran. The group has exposed some of the mullahs’ most secretive and nefarious activities, including their secret nuclear program.

Amnesty International Holds Press Conference Following its Landmark Report on 1988 Massacre

The MEK’s network of experts and underground sources has led to the exposure of over 100 “clandestine nuclear projects in Iran”, Sheehan claims. The MEK’s network has also played a crucial role in exposing the mullahs’ routine and frequent human rights abuses.

A Coordinated Campaign of Oppression

In response to the MEK’s surging power and influence, Tehran demanded international governments suppress the MEK as a precursor for good relations with Tehran. “Tehran demanded that Western powers blacklist the MEK”, Sheehan explains.

 

The MEK went on to challenge these blacklistings in international courts and were eventually delisted after courts ruled there was not even a shred of evidence connecting the group with terrorism.

“Interestingly, an impressive group of mostly senior former officials who held key national security posts in four US administrations filed an amicus brief in support of the MEK’s petition”, Sheehan writes.

“In the international arena, the MEK gained enormous respect among American and European politicians”, Sheehan continues, “a number of MEK allies hold prominent positions in the Trump administration, while the MEK itself enjoys solid bipartisan support in the US Congress”.

In 2016, following a particularly violent and aggressive persecution of the MEK in Iraq from the Iranian regime, several thousand MEK members were safely transferred to Albania. Following the outbreak of MEK-organised and endorsed protests in Iran in December 2017 and January 2018, the regime has targeted these members living in Albania.

Giuliani Issues Statement in Wake of Failed Terrorist Attack on NCRI Gathering

Tehran intensified its terrorist activities in Europe and the US. On June 30th, Belgian law enforcement authorities foiled a state-sponsored Iranian terrorist plot against the MEK’s annual Grand Gathering event.

A Belgian-Iranian couple was arrested traveling to the event with 500g of explosive matter. Their intention was to detonate the device at the event, which was attended by delegations of high-profile politicians and journalists from around the world.

President-elect, Maryam Rajavi, was the keynote speaker at the event and had traveled to Paris from Albania to be there.

The MEK’s investigation found that the Iranian embassy in Austria orchestrated the attack. The diplomat Assadollah Assadi, who was later arrested in Germany near the Austrian border, provided the couple with the explosive material and was the mastermind behind the operation.

German prosecutors later confirmed that Assadi was a member of the Iranian intelligence agency (MOIS) and was acting under the supervision of senior members of the Iranian regime.

Following the clear violation of international law and deliberate plotting of a terrorist attack on European soil, the French government froze MOIS assets and expelled Iranian diplomats from Paris.

There were other plots coordinated against the MEK. “In March… an attack was foiled that would have targeted a gathering of MEK members in Tirana, the capital of Albania, for the Iranian New Year celebration”, Sheehan writes.

A car bomb was to be used. Two Iranians who had arrived in the country under the guise of journalists were arrested over their involvement in the attack’s planning and coordination.

Similarly, in August, the US Justice Department announced it had detained two Iranian agents suspected of collecting information on the MEK ahead of a possible terror attack.

Once more, in October, Danish authorities arrested an assassin working for the MOIS. The Iranian government had planned to kill a dissident on Danish soil, but the plan was thwarted before it could be executed.

Each plan followed the same objectives; to attack and cause significant loss of life to the MEK and the Iranian opposition.

The Battle for Public Minds

Alongside the aggressive terror campaign against the MEK, Tehran organized a demonization campaign designed to vilify the MEK in the eyes of the public. Sheehan explains, “the objective has been to show that no democratic alternative is available and that dealing with this regime or looking for change within it is the only option for the West”.

The regime uses social media, state-run news outlets, and payments to international journalists to discredit the MEK. In one case, a regime-affiliated individual offered the head of the Mackenzie Institute $80,000 to publish a hit piece against the MEK.

NCRI Report Shows the Iranian Regime Used Channel 4 to Further its Objectives and Sway Public Opinion

One-sided stories against the MEK have gradually seeped into international media outlets’ reporting. The Guardian, MSNBC, Channel 4 News, Al Jazeera, and the Independent have all echoed regime talking points in their coverage and published regime-fed lies about the MEK and the Iranian opposition.

The Committee of Anglo-Iranian Lawyers Issue a Statement on the Guardian’s MEK Hit Piece

“The same individuals are quoted in each of the articles and questionable evidence that demonstrates a clearly pro-regime bias is used to source the so-called facts”, Sheehan writes. Many of the articles glaze over or completely ignore the Iranian regime’s state-sponsored terror activities or deplorable human rights record.

“For anyone who has followed Iranian affairs, it is evident that the content of the pieces are almost identical to the allegations and smears that Tehran has been making against the MEK for years”, Sheehan explained.

The regime also relies on its social media capabilities to spread misinformation about the MEK. Twitter recently detected 770 regime-affiliated accounts, many of which were posing as foreign citizens or international journalists to deliberately influence public opinion. The accounts had published more than 1.1 million Tweets promoting regime talking points, slandering the MEK, and even attempting to influence the US elections.

MSNBC’s MEK Coverage Lacks Accuracy and Objectivity

Sheehan predicts that the regime will only intensify its efforts to persecute and attack the MEK in the near future. “Tehran is likely to respond to the challenge by growing even more focused on the MEK. This means more repression at home and terror plots abroad”, he writes.

Sheehan argues that it is the responsibility of the international community to give voice to the Iranian people and lend their moral support to the anti-regime protestors and the MEK. With this support, Sheehan supposes that 2018 could come full circle. “2018 may well end as it began: With Tehran’s theocratic rulers consumed with an existential revolt and brave anti-government demonstrators insisting on democracy in the streets”.

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1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran

The UN Must Investigate the 1988 Massacre

1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran

More than 30,000 political prisoners, mainly MEK activists were slain during the summer of 1988, a crime against humanity that has yet to be accounted for.

Patrick Goodenough published an opinion piece on CNS news on Friday, December 7th. The piece, entitled, “New Report: UN Should Investigate Secret Execution of Thousands of Iranian Dissidents 30 Years Ago”, referred to Amnesty International’s latest report on the 1988 massacre.

Amnesty International collected witness testimonies, audio and video evidence, as well as extensive documentation on the extra-judicial killings that took place in the summer of 1988. The report found that the Iranian regime systematically rounded up and killed members of the Iranian opposition, including members of the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK).

Around 30,000 dissidents were executed during the summer of 1988. The regime dumped their bodies in mass graves. The mullahs then worked tirelessly destroy evidence of their atrocities. To this day, they have refused to come clean about the events that took place that summer and refused to reveal the locations of the mass graves.

Ongoing Crimes Against Humanity

Patrick Goodenough quoted Amnesty International’s Middle East and Africa research and advocacy director, Philip Luther, who said, “until Iran’s authorities come clean and publicly reveal the fate and whereabouts of the victims, these crimes against humanity are ongoing”.

Amnesty International is calling for a UN investigation into the forced disappearances and killings.

The report, Goodenough says, suggests that there may have been 32 execution locations used in the killings, spread out across Iran. Prisons during the period were placed on “lockdown” and family visits were suspended, leaving many victim’s families unsure whether their loved one was dead or alive.

Many of Those Responsible Hold Positions of Authority Today

Goodenough laments that many of the regime’s “death commissions” responsible for the abduction and execution of political dissidents in 1988 still hold positions in the regime’s political leadership.

The Justice Minister, Alireza Avaei, has strong links to the 1988 atrocities. As does, the former Justice Minister, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, Hossein-Ali Nayyeri, the head of a supreme disciplinary court for judges, and Ebrahim Raeesi, Iran’s former prosecutor general.

All three men where present at a “death commission” meeting in 1988, of which secret recordings were leaked to the public in 2016. During the meeting, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montarezi is clearly heard warning those in attendance that the extra-judicial killings would bring international criticism. He called the crime, “the biggest crime in the history of the Islamic Republic”.

Montazeri’s defiance of the regime and criticism of its crimes led to his house arrest before he died in 2009.

Goodenough’s report acknowledged that it will take significant public pressure to bring about the opening of a UN investigation into the matter. He quoted Safavi of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), who said that it would take “a major public pressure campaign, perhaps a strong push at the UN by the United States to call on the UN secretary general to initiate an independent inquiry into the massacre”.

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Channel 4 propaganda,Disinformation by MOIS,Disinformation Campaign,MEK,Mujahedin-e Khalq,PMOI,Professor Ivan Sascha Sheehan

Professor Sascha Sheehan

How Tehran Manipulates Journalistic Independence in the West

Professor Sascha Sheehan

Professor Sascha Sheehan, Executive Director at the School of Public & International Affairs, the University of Baltimore speaking at Capitol Hill during a conference about the correct policy towards Iran.

Ivan Sheehan penned a piece for US news outlet, Townhall on Thursday, December 6th. The piece, titled “Tehran’s Influence Operations a Threat to Journalistic Independence”, explored the great length the clerical regime has gone to influence and infiltrate Western media.

Sheehan wrote, “these efforts have been so successful that many such organizations are now threatened from within by assets- often disguised as journalists- portraying Iran as the victim”.

Sheehan’s piece is particularly timely. It comes just weeks after the British newspaper, The Guardian, published a three-page article attacking the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), the most popular and well-organized resistance movement.

The Guardian Spreads the Iranian Regime’s Propaganda

 

Its author, Arron Merat, has close ties to the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) and is widely seen as a regime stooge, who promotes Iranian interests and regime talking points to discredit the MEK and legitimize attacks on the Iranian opposition.

Many “journalists” cut their teeth in the state-run media

Sheehan goes on to explain how many of these “journalists” working for news outlets around the world previously worked for Iran’s state-run media. “Some parrot the regime’s talking points as if they are still on the payroll”, Sheehan wrote.

Al-Jazeera recently aired a program attacking the Iranian opposition living in exile, including the MEK and its president-elect, Maryam Rajavi. Will Yong, the producer, and host of the program, once hosted Press TV, an Iranian state-run media outlet with close ties to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

These regime stooges are working in some of the West’s most prominent media outlets including MSNBC, Al-Jazeera English, Channel 4 News, The Guardian, and The Independent.

The regime ensures it keeps a tight control on the reporting coming out of Iran by requiring local assistants and translators that help foreign journalists to secure a permit from the Ministry of Media and Culture. This allows the regime to hand pick the personnel that works with foreign journalists in the country. These assistants control journalists’ access to information and shape the reports they produce.

NCRI Report Shows the Iranian Regime Used Channel 4 to Further its Objectives and Sway Public Opinion

Many of these assistants and translators have previously worked within the Iranian MOIS. As they strengthen their relationships with foreign media outlets, many are later taken on as reporters themselves, allowing them to disseminate regime talking points directly to Western readers and listeners.

Sheehan writes, “though some of these journalists do, from time to time, reference human rights abuses in Iran, seldom- if ever- do they contradict the regime’s fundamental positions in critical areas”.

These critical areas include the calls for regime change, the effect of international sanctions, and the role of grassroots movements in organizing an effective resistance movement.

Instead, they promote the idea that sanctions harm ordinary Iranians, the Iranian population would rally behind the mullahs if the US supported the Iranian opposition, and that the MEK is a violent cult that tortures its members and holds people against their will. Sheehan correctly asserts, “there is not an ounce of evidence to support these claims”.

Rebuttals have been limited

There has been limited engagement among the Western media and governments to discredit these regime mouthpieces that have infiltrated the Western free press.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did tweet a response to a Newsweek article that claimed US sanctions would prevent Iranians accessing basic humanitarian needs. His tweet called Newsweek out as #FakeNewsweek and accused the media outlet of spreading Iranian Foreign Minister, Javid Zarif’s lies. He said, “the truth is, the US does not, and never did, sanction food and medicine”.

Sheehan concludes his piece with a word of warning. “These pro-Iran writers and their syndicates are not ordinary journalists,” he wrote, “they are PR agents for a regime that jails reporters, censors free media expression, and enslaves a restless nation”.

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Iran HRM's Annual report on human rights in Iran

Iran Human Rights Monitor Releases Damning Assessment of Iranian Human Rights in its 2018 Report

Iran HRM's Annual report on human rights in Iran

Iran Human Rights Monitor published its annual report on the violations of human rights in Iran

ran Human Rights Monitor has released its annual report on the domestic situation within Iran. This year’s 24-page report is of particular importance as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The report outlines how the people of Iran are systematically having their basic human rights violated by the brutal and bloody clerical regime. Public hangings, floggings, and forced amputations have become commonplace. Those that are arrested suffer intolerable and inhumane conditions in the Iranian prison system.

The regime’s judiciary institutions have been used to promote the regime’s aims, including arresting and imprisoning political dissidents, including members of the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), civil rights activists, students, journalists, with no regard for international law and basic human rights.

The Report’s Findings

Iran Human Rights Monitor found the regime’s 2018 record to be particularly concerning. The group reported that last year there were 285 executions, 8,000 arbitrary arrests, and cases of 12 jailed protesters killed while enduring torture in Iran’s prisons.

Among those arrested were four women, and six individuals who had committed the crimes they were convicted of when they were under the age of 18.

Limited Freedom of Expression

The report found that Iranian freedom of expression has deteriorated in 2018. The national uprising at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 was met with violence. More than 58 protestors died while exercising their right to express their opinions publicly, and 8,000 others were arrested and thrown in jail.

Protesters in Europe Condemn Regime’s Terrorism and Surge in Executions

Those that were arrested were denied access to legal representation, the Iran Human Rights Monitor found. There were also verifiable reports of the regime administering methadone to protestors in regime custody to depict them as drug addicts.

Torture

Once arrested, many of Iran’s prisoners are subjected to torture during interrogations. At least 20 people were tortured to death across Iran in 2018, with a variety of torture methods being employed against prisoners including, mock executions, beatings, burnings, electric shocks, sleep deprivation, and solitary confinement.

Taymour Khaledian, a civic activist who was held at a State Security Force base last winter, reported being severely beaten and “sexually tortured” while in regime custody. His injuries were so extensive he was unable to sit afterward. The majority of Iran’s prisoners do not receive medical care for their injuries.

Kangaroo Courts

The report found that the Iranian judiciary system consistently failed to hold fair trials to those accused of crimes. Confessions used to convict those on trial were often obtained during torture, even in cases which resulted in death sentences.

For those accused of national security crime, including political crimes and civil disobedience, the regime will only allow legal representation for the defense if they use one of 20 regime-affiliated lawyers. Therefore, these trials are never fair or independent.

Freedom of Religion

In addition, the regime frequently violates the rights of religious minorities in Iran. They face reduced education and employment opportunities, harassment, lengthy prison sentences, and restrictions on their ability to practice their religions.

In a particularly high-profile case this year, two Christians, Saheb Fadaei and Fatimeh Bakherti, who had converted from Islam, were sentenced to over a year in prison for “spreading propaganda against the regime”. Many other Christians are often imprisoned on similar charges.

Gender Discrimination

Women and young females receive some of the worst treatment in the country. The Global Gender Gap in 2017 ranked Iran among the bottom four countries on earth for its treatment of women.

Women’s wages are lower than their male counterparts. They are also not permitted the same access to divorce, employment opportunities, political representation, and representation in both criminal and family lawsuits as men are.

The unemployment rate among women stands at double the rate among men. As a result, many women holding college degrees are forced to accept employment that pays less than one-third of the minimum wage in Iran.

Child Soldiers

The Iranian regime also engages in one of the most deplorable crimes in existence in the modern world. It uses children as soldiers in combat situations.

Nikki Haley, the former US ambassador to the UN publicly revealed that the US had evidence of the regime using children in combat roles since early 2015. The children were sent to fight in Syria in support of the violent Assad regime. Some of the children were just 14 years old.

Holding the Barbaric Regime to Account

In its report, Human Rights Monitor also urged the international community and supporters of democracy around the world to hold the mullahs to account for their crimes against the Iranian people.

The downtrodden and oppressed citizens of Iran are routinely silenced and ignored. They need their international supporters to be their voice and assist them in fighting the regime and bringing justice against those committing crimes against humanity.

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Amnesty International's report on the 1988 massacre

Amnesty International Holds Press Conference Following its Landmark Report on 1988 Massacre

Amnesty International's report on the 1988 massacre

Amnesty International published its report on the crime against humanity, the massacre of the political prisoners in Iran during the summer of 1988.

Amnesty International held a news conference today following the release of its new landmark report on the 1988 massacre in Iran.

The report, entitled “Blood-Soaked Secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 Prison Massacres are Ongoing Crimes Against Humanity”, compiled testimonies, documentary evidence, and audio-visual evidence to illustrate the Iranian regime’s barbaric and systematic slaughter of tens of th members of the Iranian opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK).

A Carefully Planned and Systematically Executed Mass Murder Operation

The report found that the regime targeted members of the Iranian opposition, including the MEK and groups, keeping their families in the dark about their whereabouts and ultimate execution.

 

The regime then falsified death certificates and carried out secret burials to hide its atrocities and absolve itself of any blame or scrutiny. Amnesty International found the regime guilty of several crimes under international law, including enforced disappearance, torture, and crimes against humanity.

A Lingering Injustice

For the families of the victims of the 1988 massacre, the report marks a landmark moment in the fight for justice.

They have suffered 30-years of distorted truth and lies about the fate of their loved ones. “To this day, their families are denied [the] truth,” said Amnesty International’s David Griffiths. “[The] new Amnesty International report demands truth and justice now”.

For a long time, the authorities treated the killings as state secrets, the Amnesty report found. Any time the wall of secrecy was penetrated, the regime responded with harsh reprisals and levied charges against those accused of “disclosing state secrets”.

In a press conference following the report’s release, Amnesty International’s Iran researcher, Raha Bahreini said, “authorities have never acknowledged even one of [the] mass grave sites where they dumped bodies”.

The regime has actually hailed those responsible for the 1988 killings as heroes. Alireza Avaei, the regime’s current Minister for Justice was part of the “death commission” for Dezful and oversaw executions in that city.

The current Head of the Supreme Court for Judges, Hossein Ali Nayyeri, was also part of a “death commission” in 1988, as was Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, who was a representative for the Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS).

In a statement, Amnesty International said, “families and survivors have been grossly failed by the UN and the international community. The lack of condemnation from the UN Commission of Human Rights at the time and the failure of the UN General Assembly to refer the situation to the Security Council emboldened Iran’s authorities to continue to deny the truth and inflict torture and ill-treatment on the families.”

The ongoing lack of accountability and justice means that families still do not know where their loved ones’ bodies are located. The regime will not acknowledge the existence of mass grave sites, let alone disclose their locations.

Holding Those to Account

In the report, Amnesty International recommended that the UN establish an independent and impartial international mechanism to hold those responsible within the regime to account for their crimes.

This sentiment was echoed by its Middle East Research Director, Lynn Maalouf who said on Twitter, “Amnesty International considers the extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances to be crimes against humanity”.

The MEK and other campaigners for democracy and justice across the globe will welcome Amnesty International’s investigation of one of the bloodiest and most evil chapters in Iran’s history.

However, it is only effective if international legal mechanisms and the UN can work to pressure Iran into investigating the matter and putting those responsible for these heinous crimes on trial. Those responsible must be made to answer for their crimes before civilian courts. Only then will justice have been served for the families of the 1988 victims.

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