NCRI Calls for International Prosecution of Ghafour Derjezi for his Role in Assassination of Opposition Members

 

Photo credit Mojahedin.org- Ghafour Derjezi (top right and Bottom right) responsible for the assassinations of Mohammad Hossein Naghdi, former representative of NCRI in Italy (top left).

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), including the MEK, is calling for the prosecution of former Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) member Ghafour Derjezi (also known with the name Amir Mansur Assl Bozorgian) and former Iranian regime ambassador to Italy Hamid Abutalebi after startling revelations of their involvement came to light about their involvement in the assassinations of opposition members.

According to Ali Daei, former head of the Saipa football club in Tehran, Derjezi has been using the name Mostafa Modaber in order to conceal his past. Derjezi was responsible for the assassinations of a number of opposition figures, most notably Mohammad Hossein Naghdi, former representative of NCRI in Italy.

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Derjezi, who is also known as Amir Mansour Bozorgian, carried out the assassination of Naghdi in Rome, Italy, on March 16, 1994, on the order of Hamid Abutalebi, Tehran’s then-ambassador to Italy. Abutalebi currently serves as an advisor to regime President Hassan Rouhani.

Background

After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Derjezi worked as an operative of the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) in Fort Ramadan of Kermanshah. He played a role in the 1989 assassination of Iranian Kurdish dissident leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou in Austria.

Mohammad Hossein Naghdi initially served as a member of the Iranian regime’s diplomatic team in Italy. He resigned from his post in 1981 in protest of the regime’s corruption and joined the NCRI. After the 1988 death of regime founder and first Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini, current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued an order calling for Naghdi to be assassinated.

Then-deputy MOIS chief Ali Fallahian was assigned the mission to assassinate Naghdi. Fallahian ordered Hamid Abutalebi to carry out the attack.

Abutalebi formed one team to provide logistics and a second to carry out the actual assassination. Derjezi, also known as Ami Mansour Bozorgian at the time, was given the position of commander of the logistics team. He was also given the responsibility of coordinating the assassination team on the ground. On the day of the assassination, Derjezi gave the order to fire.

After Naghdi’s assassination, Derjezi returned to Iran and worked in a number of administrative roles in the Secretariat office of the Supreme National Security Council, as the head of the regime’s state radio/TV organization’s security branch, as the head of the state radio/TV Commerce Union, and as director general of security matters overlooking the regime’s Majlis (parliament).

Derjezi is now the Director General of the Saipa football club, using the name Mostafa Modaber. Daei’s revelation about Derjezi’s dark past has intensified pressure on the Iranian regime, which now has to deal with the potential consequences of having a former IRGC member in charge of a football club. Because of the recent U.S. designation of the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization, any person or organization who provides support or funding to an organization or entity tied to the IRGC may face criminal or civil prosecution. Regime officials are scrambling to hide past ties to the IRGC.

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Regime Insiders Express Fear Over the MEK’s Rising Online Popularity

Ibrahim Golfam, head of regimes propaganda in the Army during a press conference.

Elements within the Iranian regime have publicly expressed fear at the Iranian opposition’s swelling popularity across social media. The People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (MEK), the largest and best-supported Iranian opposition group, have been attracting swathes of the Iranian youth to its social media campaigns.

Feeling the Pressure

So much so, that the Cultural Deputy of Iranian regime’s Armed Forces Department Ibrahim Golfam aired his concerns over the group’s rising online influence. “The [PMOI/MEK], stationed in the capital of a European country, are day and night busy creating an atmosphere against the Islamic Republic in Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram,” he complained.

Speaking to journalists in Yasuj, Southern Iran, Golfam described the ongoing war for the hearts and minds of the Iranian public. He said a “battle formation” was “needed in the fields of economics, culture and soft war.”

Golfam’s comments were echoed by the regime’s Friday prayer Imam in Shiraz. Lotfollah Dezhkam, during a sermon, complained about the MEK’s social media presence. “There are some behaviors seen on the internet that need our attention. It is not right for anyone to say anything they wish,” he said. He expressed his opinion that the regime should more closely monitor the Iranian opposition’s online presence and censor Iranians’ access to their posts.

“This is a direction that needs to be taken by FATA (Iran’s internet police) and finally the judiciary. Both of these entities need to be involved and there need to be some control mechanisms from our part,” he said.

Dezhkam also vented about the closure of the social media accounts belonging to senior members of the Iranian regime’s leadership. “They make a fuss and brouhaha about providing an open atmosphere! Free! Anyone is able to say anything they wish! You do know that they erase even one sentence that is expressed by us,” he complained, adding, “why do they not allow people to hear what they have to say? Those who close these accounts are cowards!”

MEK Has “Inflicted Severe Blows” with Social Media, Say Regime Experts

The Regime’s Demonization Campaign

Twitter and other social media accounts have taken a stronger stance against the Iranian regime in recent months. The MEK revealed last year that the Iranian regime uses an extensive social media campaign to vilify and demonize the Iranian opposition.

In 2018, Twitter removed more than 750 accounts affiliated to the Iranian regime. Many accounts posed as foreign journalists and shared anti-MEK propaganda in an attempt to turn public opinion against the opposition group. Following this incident, Twitter and other social media platforms have scrutinized regime-affiliated accounts.

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Only Free and Unfettered Access to Iranian Nuclear Sites Can Prevent the Mullahs Developing Nuclear Weapons

Chairman Mohaddessin, in charge of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI-FAC), during an online conference call-June 2015

Iranian regime President Hassan Rouhani announced that the regime will partially withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal, a year after the United States exited the arrangement. He told the P5+1 nations that they had 60 days to renegotiate financial and oil deals. Failure to do so would result in the regime’s partial withdrawal.

International Condemnation

Several governments condemned the announcement, including France’s Defence Minister Florence Parly.

Mohammad Mohaddessin, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) stated in a tweet that “Stockpiling enriched uranium and heavy water are violations of JCPOA and the UNSC Resolution 2231. It shows the need to total shut down of enrichment, heavy water, and all nuclear sites, exposing military aspects of the nuclear project, and snap inspections of all sites more imperative.”

Referring to President-elect Maryam Rajavi, leader of the Iranian opposition’s message Subsequent to the temporary nuclear agreement with P5+1 on Nov. 2013 Mohaddessin reminded that “the full implementation of the Resolutions, in particular, complete stop of enrichment, and free access to the IAEA inspectors are necessary steps to prevent mullahs from obtaining the bomb.”

Free Access to Inspectors

Mohaddessin’s comments highlight concerns often cited by the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK). The Iranian opposition has frequently expressed concerns over the nuclear deal and claimed that the Iranian regime continued to secretly enrich Uranium in pursuit of developing nuclear weapons.

During last December uprisings and on various other occasions, the Iranian public has expressed their quest for the regime to abandon its pursuit of atomic weapons. The relentless investment in missile capabilities and nuclear programs is a drain on Iranian resources and finances. At a time when the country is on the brink of economic collapse and more than 70% of Iranians live in poverty, it is an unnecessary and wasteful expense.

“It is a tool to survive religious fascism which is faced with popular outrage and is on the verge of the overthrow,” Mohaddessin said in a Tweet.

In the face of mounting domestic protests, the regime has resorted to increasing military spending and missile development to expand the tools of repression in its arsenal. It relies on violent organs like the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) and Quds forces to maintain its grip on power. Abandoning its pursuit of nuclear weapons would be a major blow to the regime’s hegemonic ambitions in the region.

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Censorship in Iran

The Mullahs Want to Censor the Internet—Except When They Are the Ones Being Censored

Censorship in Iran

Internet access is filtered in Iran under the ruling religious dictatorship.

The unrestricted use of the Internet and social media has become a serious issue for the mullahs’ regime. The availability of encrypted messaging applications has given the Iranian people the ability to bypass regime filtering to share news and information.

As the Iranian people continue to lose faith in state-run media, they increasingly turn to the Internet and social media sources for information. Over the past year, the MEK has successfully used social media to organize protests and spread information about the regime’s corruption. This has helped foster the growth of the protest movement within Iran and has caused panic among the mullahs, who fear widespread rebellion and the ultimate overthrow of the ruling regime.

Regime Friday prayer imams, who are considered the mouthpieces of the mullahs, repeat the Supreme Leader’s rhetoric to people across the country in their sermons each week. Through these sermons, it is possible to see the regime’s current fears and insecurities.

Last week, Lotfollah Dejkam, the Friday prayer imam in Shiraz, Fars Province, complained about Internet access in a confusing and contradictory sermon.

The Internet Must Be Censored

 

Dejkam first argued that the Internet must be censored in order to prevent people from freely exchanging information, saying, “On the Internet, there is conduct that must be observed carefully. It is not right to allow people to say and do whatever they want on the Internet.

The imam went on to echo the regime’s position that the FATA (the regime’s Internet police) and other repressive authorities should step up their efforts to prevent the free flow of information.

“It is an area in which both FATA units and the judiciary can get involved in. There should undoubtedly be some kind of control by the authorities,” Dejkam said.

The Internet Must Be Free

In the same sermon, Dejkam complained that Google and Instagram had removed or blocked accounts belonging to regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) leaders, arguing that regime leaders should be free to speak online without fear of censorship.

“They were talking so much about the internet being free! It is free! People can say whatever they want. But they block even one sentence from us, against the leader [Khamenei, whose Instagram account was briefly suspended] and others [IRGC commanders whose Instagram accounts were blocked]. Let them be heard. Those who close down these accounts are cowards,” Dejkam said indignantly.

He went on to threaten the international social media giants, saying, “they cannot achieve anything through silencing us.”

Dejkam and the regime’s leadership would do well to take heed of these words. The Iranian people will not be silenced. The regime’s attempts to censor online communication have failed and will continue to fail. The MEK has provided an alternative to state-run propaganda and has given Iranians a place to share their outrage about the regime’s corruption and to organize for regime change.

Regime Reacts to Implications of IRGC Terrorist Listing with Growing Alarm and Confusion

Meanwhile, social media platforms such as Facebook are removing the accounts of IRGC leaders in the wake of the designation of the Revolutionary Guards as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Facebook, which owns Instagram, has one billion members and is one of the largest corporations in the world. The regime’s threats to both its own people and to social media platforms are hollow and desperate.

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Iranian regime's executions during the month of April 2019

Iran Human Rights Monitor Outlines Human Rights Abuses in its Monthly Report for April

Iranian regime's executions during the month of April 2019

The chart shows the Iranian regime’s executions during the month of April 2019

Iran Human Rights Monitor released its monthly report on the regime’s human rights abuses for the month of April 2019. The document makes for grim reading as the regime continues to run roughshod over the rights of Iran’s citizens on a near-daily basis.

The report revealed that in the month of April, the regime carried out arbitrary arrests and killings, tortured prisoners in its custody, violated the rights of ethnic minorities, and carried out several executions.

The Execution of Two Juvenile Offenders

Perhaps the most abhorrent act undertaken by the regime in April was the unlawful execution of two juveniles. Mehdi Sohrabifar and Amin Sedaghat, two 17-year-old cousins, were executed in Shiraz on April 25.

In a statement issued two days after their execution, international human rights group Amnesty International condemned the regime for carrying out an unfair trial and breaking international law prohibiting the execution of prisoners under the age of 18.

In a statement, Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director, said: “It seems they cruelly kept these two boys in the dark about their death sentences for two years, flogged them in the final moments of their lives, and then carried out their executions in secret.”

Their families were able to visit them shortly before their death but were not informed of their impending execution, robbing them of their goodbyes.

The act also prompted outrage from the UN human rights chief who reminded the regime that the execution of children is banned under international law.

The Global Leader in Juvenile Executions

The Iranian regime executed more juvenile offenders than any other nation on earth. Between 1990 and 2018, the regime executed 97 inmates convicted of crimes as minors. Just last year it executed seven prisoners who committed the alleged crimes as minors.

More than 90 remain on death row in prisons across Iran according to Amnesty International.

Torture and Arbitrary Arrest

April also saw the prominent human rights defender Nader Afshari sentenced to 74 lashes and a year in prison on charges of “disrupting public order” and carrying out “propaganda against the state.”

A further 63 volunteers were arrested after carrying out community rescue operations and providing assistance to victims affected by recent flooding in Khuzestan. Also, 25 internet activists were detained for reporting on the flooding online.

The regime has attempted to stifle any information regarding the full death toll of the flooding out of fear it will inflame public anger. At least 250 people died after heavy rains brought widespread flooding to Khuzestan and the surrounding areas. The regime’s inaction compounded the destruction and loss of life as the mullahs refused to make boats, helicopters, and shelters available for public use in the rescue efforts. MEK sources in Iran reported widely on the damage the floods created, also the Iranian regime’s inaction during and in the aftermath of the floods.

On April 16, the Prosecutor’s Office in Tehran also issued an indictment for the arrest of Amir Salar Davoudi on charges of “cooperating with hostile governments” and “establishing a group to overthrow the system” after he participated in an interview with VOA and partook in a Telegram messaging group sharing information about news and events pertaining to the Iranian judicial system.

Inhumane Conditions in Iranian Prisons

Iran Human Rights Monitor also describes the despicable and abhorrent treatment of prisoners in Iranian prisons. It reported the withholding of medical treatment for Alireza Shirmohammad-Ali in Great Tehran Penitentiary. Shirmohammad-Ali was beaten by guards and has been suffering from acute abdominal pain. He has received no treatment for his condition.

Mojtaba Dadashi, an imprisoned university student also went on hunger strike after being denied treatment for his respiratory tract infection he contracted last week.

In another incident, an inmate was encouraged to assault another inmate by the prison agents. An inmate convicted of drug offenses was promised a case review if she assaulted her fellow inmate, Sima Entesari.

The Fate of Ethnic Minorites

Ethnic minorities continue to suffer under the clerical regime. State security forces arrested 88 Ahwazi Arabs, 12 Kurds, and three Baluchi people. They also killed nine Kurdish porters

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MEK-Iran: Expert Criticizes Regime’s Use of Foreign Prisoners as Political Pawns

Zarif and Jafari, two faces of a criminal dictatorship

Javad Zarif, Iranian regime’s Foreign Minister embraces Ali Jafari, the then commander-in-chief of the “Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), now blacklisted as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, a leading expert on Iran policy and president of the International American Council, penned an op-ed for Arab News on Thursday, May 2. Entitled, ‘Iranian regime uses foreign prisoners as political pawns’, the piece examined the way the Iranian regime uses prisoners in international diplomacy and the treatment of foreign citizens as political currency, to be traded and leveraged to further regime interests.

During Javad Zarif’s recent visit to the US, the Iranian foreign minister made a shocking offer to Western nations whose citizens are currently languishing in Iranian prisons. He offered to exchange them for Iranian prisoners inside the US and European nations.

“I put this offer on the table, publicly, now. Exchange them. All these people that are in prison inside the United States, on an extradition request from the United States… Let us exchange them,” he said.

False Hope

The centralized structure of power in Iran means that only the Supreme Leader Khamenei is able to make such offers and follow through with them. The matter of prisoner exchanges would fall under the remit of the judiciary. The head of the judiciary is appointed by Khamenei. Therefore, the judicial system would need Khamenei’s direct approval to make any prisoner exchange offers.

Zarif appeared to acknowledge this. In an interview, when Zarif was probed further on the details and quizzed about the possible release of eight US environmentalist from an Iranian prison, he responded with: “This is not my job. Our judiciary is independent. I have not agreed with the accusations against them, but I am busy enough preventing wars and economic pressures.”

Both the American government and the European Parliament have raised the issue of the eight detained environmentalists with the Iranian government before. In a letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, several members of the European Parliament complained, “we understand that the Iranian judiciary has accused the activists of using environmental projects as a cover to collect classified strategic information, but a committee established under your authority has found no evidence of these allegations.”

The Iranian government has not yet responded. It has been previously unwilling to release the eight environmentalists or any of the other seven American and European prisoners currently detained in prisons across Iran.

Rafizadeh describes how under President Hassan Rouhani, several countries have increased their travel warnings, urging their citizens to take extra precautions, and in some cases, advising against traveling to Iran while the regime is in power.

The British Foreign Office recently warned all UK-Iranian dual nations to avoid traveling to Iran.

Political Pawns

The Iranian regime has a long history of using detained foreigners as diplomatic leverage to advance its international interests. Rafizadeh concluded: “In a nutshell, the Iranian regime is once again using foreign citizens as hostages in order to blackmail other governments.

He urged: “It is incumbent on these countries not to submit to Tehran’s hostage-taking game. Accepting Iran’s terms will only embolden and empower the regime.”

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Regime Leaders Powerless as Iranian People Turn to MEK and Social Media for News

Regime officials have recently expressed increasing concern about the MEK’s use of the Internet and social media to report accurate news of events within Iran and to expose the regime’s corruption and incompetence.

Reporting during the Floods

These fears have intensified in the wake of the destructive floods that caused severe damage across the country. Recently, the head of the FATA (the regime’s police division that handles Internet censorship) in Isfahan complained about the MEK’s reporting during the floods. He was most upset that the MEK had exposed the regime’s role in worsening the severity of the floods and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp’s (IRGC) incompetent response to the disaster.

He said, “Most of the news on the recent floods were published by the PMOI/MEK on the internet. The cyber war is the front line of today’s wars… Most of the news about the recent floods were published on social media by this group…”

Public confidence in state-run media has plummeted since the rise of social media has made it possible for Iranians to access information other than regime propaganda. During the floods last month, official regime reports downplayed the severity of the disaster even as people in 25 out of 31 provinces saw significant damage from the floods. Officials gave false numbers of casualties and damages and made claims of recovery efforts that had not taken place. People turned to social media for truthful reporting of the floods. The regime’s judiciary responded to the public’s loss of confidence by threatening those who published information about the floods. A number of Internet activists were subsequently arrested.

An “Overt and Covert Role”

The regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security is taking measures to address the MEK’s growing influence in shaping the flow of information going in and out of Iran. The MOIS announced that it held an event in Mashhad to evaluate the “overt and covert role” of the MEK in social media platforms.

“Gathering Information”

 

Regime leaders, who for years claimed that the MEK had little influence within Iran, are now openly expressing their fears about the MEK’s ability to expose the regime’s corrupt and illegal acts through their powerful connections within the country and their growing online presence.

Regime Expresses Fear that MEK Will Overthrow Regime through Online Activism

Former IRGC member and current regime faction head Kan’ani Moghadam expressed his concerns about the MEK’s ability to uncover regime plots.

“They have infiltrated our apparatus inside the country, becoming very capable in gathering information,” he said. “The PMOI/MEK is monitoring all of our activities.”

“Spreading Disappointing News”

On Sunday, a member of Majlis (the regime’s parliament) voiced his concern that the MEK is effectively countering state propaganda and changing public opinion about the regime. The regime relies on propaganda to prevent widespread rebellion, so this is troubling news for those in power.

“Around 15 percent of the [Iranian regime dissidents] and the PMOI/MEK inside the country are active on social media,” he said. “They are spreading disappointing news about the Revolution and the state to influence public opinion.”

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Regime Officials Take Desperate Measures to Avoid Overthrow

MEK rally in New York

Photo Archive-Supporters of the MEK rally in New York over Rouhani, the Iranian regime’s president’s Speech at UN-September 20, 2017

Regime officials are sounding the alarm as the possibility of being overthrown becomes a reality. Regime Friday prayers leaders, military commanders, and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei have all expressed increasing concern about the MEK, the Iranian opposition’s growing influence within the country through their successful use of social media, the inability of the regime’s forces to suppress protests, and the end of the era of appeasement toward the mullahs by the United States.

Imminent Threats

On Wednesday, Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi, Commander of the mullahs’ Army, warned of “imminent” threats to the regime. He ordered his forces to practice war games constantly in order to be ready for attacks that could take place at any time of the day or night.

 

“The threats today are imminent,” he said. “Of course, these threats are not ground base in the beginning, but our ground forces, as the main axis of all operations, must hold their readiness.”

“All forces must engage their troops in constant war games with the mindset of being ready in the face of a night attack,” he continued.

A Battle from all Angles

Iranian regime Supreme leader Ali Khamenei also made his fears about the coming rebellion known in a Wednesday address to a group of regime loyalists.

 

Khamenei huging Hassan Nassrollah, head of Hezbollah

Khamenei warned that the “enemy” is “positioning” itself to declare economic, political, and cyberspace war.

 

He told his supporters: “Today, our enemy is getting prepared for a battle from all angles. I mean they are attacking now, not just being in preparation of an attack, an attack in progress. We could see that against our economy, in the area of intelligence to infiltrate, even in cyberspace.”.

Dialogue is Surrender

 

The regime’s Friday prayers leaders have joined other regime officials in sharing their public fears about the regime’s vulnerability to collapse. Friday prayers leaders are considered to be the mouthpieces of the mullahs, and their sermons are used to spread Khamenei’s talking points to the people of Iran.

 

Tehran’s Friday prayers leader Ahmad Khatami responded to regime Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s failed attempt to open a line of dialogue with the United States with scathing criticism in his sermon on Friday.

“Dialogue is surrender, and surrender is a disgrace. We are facing a mad man [U.S. President Donald Trump]. If we take one step back, they take ten steps forward,” he said.

Khatami doubled down on his words, saying, “It is time Iran’s Internet officials learn that this channel, as it is now, would only hurt the system and has no benefits for us.”

The Rebellious Youth Are the Enemy

Ahmad Alam –al Hoda, the Friday prayer leader in Mashhad, used his Friday sermon to attempt to clarify Khamenei’s comments on Wednesday, in which he said that the “enemy” was taking a “battle formation.” According to Alam -al Hoda, the Supreme Leader was referring to the youth of Iran when he spoke of “the enemy.” The young people of the country are stepping on the regime, he said.

“Khamenei emphasized that we are facing the enemy’s battle formation in the fields of politics, economics, and the Internet,” he said. “This was not a mere gesture or an instruction, it was an order to all regime apparatus, the government, the judiciary, Majlis [regime parliament] directors and etc… to also establish battle formation against them.”

“This battle formation is referring to the inside of the country and is against the rebellious youth,” he added.

“Be aware, Americans and the British who are taking battle formation against us are not like they bring their soldiers into Iran or even their bombers to bomb us from the skies. What we mean by taking battle formation is with forces inside the country that used to raise against our revolution. They are investing in a generation that is rallying in the streets,” Alam –al Hoda emphasized.

Alam -al Hoda called on Iran’s workers, laborers, teachers, farmers, and all of the many others who protest in the streets on a daily basis to “get back their rights, to put away their demands of rights and keep into consideration that the country is at war, an economic war. Forget about job benefits in the factories. Today, everybody has to play a role to counter the enemy…”

Again, it is not clear what enemy Alam -al Hoda is referring to. Should the Iranian people stop demanding payment of their wages in order to confront the youth of their country who are protesting alongside them?

In any case, this most recent plea is a sign of desperation from a regime teetering on the verge of collapse. The Iranian people are protesting for basic rights and payment of months of unpaid wages and against widespread government corruption and arbitrary arrests and imprisonment. The people are asking for the return of their looted savings and for an end to the theft of the country’s wealth in service of warmongering and terrorism.

Regime forces have met these protests with brutal acts of suppression at every turn, and now they are asking the people to simply stop protesting altogether. It is more clear than ever why the regime is failing.

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Javad Zarif during a quarrel in regime Majlis

Zarif Returns from the US Empty-Handed

Javad Zarif during a quarrel in regime Majlis

A true face of the always “laughing” Javad Zarif and his Deputy Araghchi (first rights) during a fight in Regime’s Majlis (parliament).

The Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif returned to Iran from his time in the US empty-handed. The regime’s mouthpiece abroad traveled to the United States last month to open a communication channel. He left with little to show for his efforts, instead of spending his time spouting regime propaganda on US news outlet, Fox News.

Part of the issue, critics point out, is that when power is concentrated in the hands of the Supreme Leader, it becomes impossible for foreign governments to negotiate with anybody else in the leadership. Zarif does not have the authority to make assurances. Everything must go through Khamenei himself.

This leaves foreign governments with little inclination to spend the time opening communication channels with figures like Zarif. Mehdi Motaharnia, a regime political pundit, acknowledging the deadly crisis and ongoing infighting among different rifts for power, said “The government and Zarif want to decrease the pressure. However, this endeavor will only be accepted by the other party when governmental elements [meaning Khamenei] officially approve it.”

Motaharnia also described the change in the US’s thinking. The Trump administration represents a break from the decades-long policy of appeasement. It will no longer accept half-concessions in exchange for turning a blind eye to its destabilizing activities in the Middle East and beyond.

“The U.S. is serious this time around and will not heed what the government [meaning Hassan Rouhani and his faction] says,” Motaharnia added.

The Struggle Reaching its Pinnacle?

In recent weeks, the struggle between the US and the Iranian regime appears to have escalated. Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the designation of the Iranian regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization.

In his speech, Pompeo said, “we are going to zero,” adding, “how long we remain there at zero depends solely on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s senior leaders.”

Iranian security pundit, Mehdi Mohammadi, questioned whether the struggle is “reaching its pinnacle now.”

The US’s adoption of a policy of maximum pressure against Iran is taking its toll on the Iranian leadership. Nationwide protests are becoming a regular occurrence and the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (MEK) and its resistance units become stronger by the day, garnering more public support and intensifying their opposition activities.

Zarif’s visit to the US should be interpreted as a sign of desperation. As the mullahs lose their grip on power at home, Zarif sought to open a channel of communication to reduce the regime’s international isolation.

His failure means the mullahs will have no respite from the storm of their own making. There will be no letting up. The Iranian people are saying enough is enough.

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Teachers protests across Iran

Teachers Assaulted by Regime Forces during Peaceful Protest in Tehran

Teachers protests across Iran

Teachers’ Day Protests across Iran asking for their colleagues that had been imprisoned during previous demonstrations to be released.

On Thursday, Iranian teachers in Tehran taking part in a peaceful protest in recognition of Teachers’ Day were attacked by security forces. The teachers had gathered outside of the Ministry of Education building in response to a nationwide call to protest from teachers unions.

The protesting teachers and educational support workers carried handmade signs reading: “Imprisoned teachers must be freed.”

“Imprisoned workers must be freed.”

“Your pain is our pain, people must rise up and join us.”

Teachers’ Day demonstrations took place in dozens of Iranian cities on Thursday, as Iran’s teachers used the annual holiday to renew their demands for better pay, benefits, and working conditions; to call for free, quality education for every child; and to once again demand the release of their jailed colleagues.

Nationwide Protests

Protests took place in the cities of Isfahan, Divandareh, Tabriz, Mallard, Karaj, Hamedan, Kermanshah, Sanandaj, Qazvin, Marivan, Urmia, Yazd, Homayounshahr, Sari, Khorrmabad, Mahabad, Mashhad, Torbat-e Heydarieh, Kurdistan, Ardebil, and Javanroud, according to MEK sources inside Iran. Teachers in a number of cities are believed to have joined the protests after the MEK prepared the initial list. Teachers in these cities gathered outside of their local Ministry of Education buildings to protest.

 

Teachers and educational support workers in Kermanshah chanted, “Majlis [the regime’s parliament] and the government do not care about the teachers.”

 

Teachers in Hamadan held handmade signs reading: “Imprisoned teachers must be freed.”

 

“Stop privatizing schools and education.”

“Children must receive a free and quality education.”

“We demand decent pay for our work.”

Teachers in Mallard carried posters and placards which read: “Free education is the right of every child.”

“We demand salary and wages above the poverty line for teachers and pensioners.”

Unanswered Demands

Iranian teachers have protested dozens of times over the past year in response to substandard pay and working conditions and lack of freedom to advocate for themselves and their students. Iran’s teachers launched nationwide strikes in October 2018, November 2018, and March 2019. The regime refuses to address their concerns and arrested many of the organizers of the strikes.

 

The teachers have made a list of their unmet demands, which include:

 

  • better wages;
  • free education for every child;
  • respect for the rights of minorities;
  • the cancellation of several government plans that push Iranian education workers further into poverty;
  • an end to temporary contracts.

 

Thursday’s attack comes a day after 35 protesters were arrested by Iranian security forces while participating in a peaceful demonstration in honor of International Labour Day.

Maryam Rajavi’s Response

 

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) saluted the protesting teachers for standing up against the repressive regime and its forces. She tweeted:

 

“Teachers’ protests and their stand against repressive rgm forces showed public anger & disgust at religious dictatorship and demand for change; ‘People join us, our problem is your problem,’ ‘Teachers are imprisoned, extortionists are free’
#Iran”

 

She also called on international human rights groups and teachers’ unions to take action to secure the release of imprisoned teachers in Iran, tweeting:

“I call on #Iran people, especially students, to support teachers and their rightful demands. International human rights orgs & teachers unions worldwide should condemn clerical rgm & take urgent action to freed detained and imprisoned teachers”.

Staff writer

 

 

 

 

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