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Maryam Rajavi addresses the French MPs in a conference held at the Parliament building.

Maryam Rajavi Addresses Conference entitled “Iran Perspectives: 2019”

Maryam Rajavi addresses the French MPs in a conference held at the Parliament building.

Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian opposition, addressed MPs and attendees at the Conference, “Iran Perspective 2019” held at Colbert Hall in the French Parliament building-February 21, 2019

On Thursday, the Parliamentary Committee for a Democratic Iran at the French National Assembly held a conference, entitled “Iran Perspectives: 2019.”  The event called for a firm policy in Europe toward the Iranian regime in light of its terrorist activities on European soil and its human rights abuses of its own people.

French Committee of Parliamentarians for a Free Iran Holds a Conference Discussing Future Policy Towards Iran

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi was one of several speakers at the conference. In her speech, she refuted the idea that moderates exist in the Iranian regime, then discussed the regime’s terrorist activities in Europe, the role of the MEK in the ongoing protests in Iran, and the regime’s demonization campaign against the MEK. She also urged the French government to recognize the right of the Iranian people to rise up and overthrow the mullahs’ regime and create a free Iran.

No “Moderate”

In her speech, Mrs. Rajavi said that many Western leaders initially saw regime President Hassan

Rouhani's record of terror and executions in Iran

Rouhani’s record on violations of human rights during his tenure.

Rouhani as a “moderate” who was “able to bring about positive change in the theocratic regime.” Mrs. Rajavi disputed this idea, saying, “It was under this pretext, that western governments gave great concessions to the mullahs’ religious dictatorship.”

Rajavi noted Rouhani’s record as regime President: “Thousands of executions; several massacres in camps Ashraf and Liberty where members of the PMOI/MEK used to reside; wasting of Iran’s revenues on fomenting wars in the region; terrorist operations by the Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) which he commands; and the missile program of the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). As a result of which the majority of the people of Iran have become destitute.”

Terrorist Activities

She then enumerated the many terrorist plots by the regime that have occurred under Rouhani’s leadership: “He assigned his Ministry of Intelligence and diplomats to launch a major terrorist operation against the Iranian Resistance’s grand gathering in Villepinte. The sanctions imposed on the mullahs’ Intelligence Ministry by France and the European Union further confirmed that Rouhani’s government was the perpetrator of the plot.

“Although their attack in France was ill-fated, they did not give up. They hatched further schemes. A terrorist plot in Denmark; an espionage and terrorist plot against members of the Iranian Resistance in the U.S.; espionage in the army of Germany and attacking the supporters of the Iranian Resistance in that country; and in March 2018, they failed in another major terrorist attack against a PMOI/MEK gathering in Albania.”

December 2017 Uprising

Mrs. Rajavi then described the uprising and subsequent nationwide protest movement that began in Iran in December 2017 and continues today, “drastically destabiliz[ing] the regime.” She further discussed the economic catastrophe facing the country in terms of high inflation, slow economic growth, and high unemployment. “These are the characteristics of the Iranian economy in the present circumstances,” she said. “It is reminiscent of a building on the verge of collapse. Nevertheless, the regime has increased its next year’s budget for military and security expenditures.”

MEK Resistance Units

Rajavi went on to discuss the MEK’s Resistance Units. “A new force has emerged to counter the mullahs, the Resistance Units. These units are made up of members and supporters of the Iranian Resistance. They come from among the younger and freedom-loving generation of Iranians.”

Mrs. Rajavi emphasized the influence that the Resistance Units have had on organizing the Iranian people in their anti-regime protests. “In the past year,” she said, “the Resistance Units have spread their anti-regime activities to dozens of cities across the country. They have turned into beacons of hope for the people of Iran.”

Demonization Campaign

The Iranian regime is very aware of the MEK’s power and influence, according to Mrs. Rajavi, and has stepped up its efforts to spread “falsities against the Iranian Resistance.”

“The theocratic regime ruling Iran spends exorbitant sums of money on creating a network of reporters who are friends of the Ministry of Intelligence,” said Mrs. Rajavi. “Through them, the regime deploys the foreign press against the Iranian Resistance to project that the regime does not have any alternatives and the interests of western countries are best served by dealing with their regime.”

End the Era of Appeasement

Mrs. Rajavi argued that it is clear that Rouhani is no moderate and that the time for appeasing Tehran is passed.

“Turning a blind eye to the Iranian Resistance is not only to the detriment of the people of Iran but also to the detriment of the Middle East and the world who are in this way deprived of the key to the Iranian problem,” Rajavi said.

She continued, “It is wrong to worry about regime change by the Iranian people and resistance. Iran will not crumble in the course of such change. Rather, the main obstacle to Iran’s progress and the main cause of wars and crisis in the region will thus be removed.”

Mrs. Rajavi urged the French government to recognize the right of the Iranian people to rise up against their oppressors and initiate a “bold policy” in the E.U. She described this policy as one that  “places France and Europe besides the people of Iran and would respect the Iranian people’s struggle for freedom and democracy. The right of the Iranian people’s Resistance to overthrow the mullahs’ religious dictatorship must be recognized.”

Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the Iranian opposition, addressing the conference “Iran Perspective 2019” held at the French Assemblee Nationale building- February 21, 2019

Rajavi emphasized that the NCRI and the MEK represent a well-organized movement with a plan for the orderly transition to a peaceful democracy in Iran after the fall of the mullahs’ regime. “This is the message of the Iranian people’s liberating uprisings and the Resistance Units,” she said. “I must stress that our Resistance is an accountable, dedicated and qualified movement which has a modified plan for the future of Iran.”

Mrs. Rajavi concluded her speech with a brief description of the NCRI’s political platform, which forms the backbone of her ten-point plan for Iran’s democratic. future. She said, “We enjoy our people’s support in seeking to establish a republic based on the separation of religion and state, gender equality, the abolition of the death penalty, an independent judiciary, autonomy for ethnic groups, a foreign policy based on peaceful co-existence, and a non-nuclear Iran.”

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Protests in Iran

Der Spiegel’s Reporting Makes Them Accomplices in the Regime’s Human Rights Abuses

Protests in Iran

Archive photo-Demonstrations in front of the offices of the education ministry in protest to the government’s lack of response to their demands.-January 2019

Under increasing pressure at home, the Iranian regime has intensified its misinformation campaign against the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK). The Iranian regime faces widespread protests each and every day. Since Sunday, there have been nine protests across the country attacking the mullahs’ mismanagement of the economy, soaring inflation, and unpaid wages.

These are the latest developments in a wave of protests that have washed across Iran over the last 14 months. What began in a nationwide uprising at the tail end of 2017, shows no sign of letting up.

An “army of hungry and unemployed” Iranians are taking to the streets and calling for regime change. Youth unemployment is above 50%, Iranian purchasing power is falling, and wages are stagnating. Iranians are struggling to put food on the table, meanwhile, the mullahs are living lavish lifestyles, funneling money to militia and terrorist groups abroad, and spending vast sums on clandestine missile programs.

The Regime Looks Outward

Rather than look inward at its own failings, the clerical regime has looked outwards and responded to the intensifying protest movement by cracking down on political opponents. As sanctions start to bite, targeting the regime’s oil revenue and crippling its finances, the regime has intensified its attacks on the MEK, the largest and most organized pro-democracy group who has played a crucial role in mobilizing the population.

The regime has deployed a misinformation campaign targeting the opposition group. Last year, Twitter removed 770 regime-affiliated accounts that the mullahs were using to spread disinformation about the MEK. A separate investigation from Reuters found that the Iranian regime used more than 70 websites to spread anti-MEK propaganda across the world, many of which are still in operation today.

Regime Hit Pieces

The mullahs’ latest attacks have come through Western media outlets. Its most recent hit piece against the MEK has published in German magazine Der Spiegel. As with previous hit pieces, including one published last year in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, the regime uses former members of the MEK to spread lies and deceit about the group, often touting the frequently disproved claim the MEK is a violent group that keeps members against their will.

The pieces usually allege that the MEK is not a threat to the regime and does not command the support of the Iranian population. This begs the question if the MEK is not a threat, why does the regime devout such resources and time to attacking them online, in print, and through violent terror attacks and assassinations?

The regime’s most recent propaganda piece in Der Spiegel made no less than 60 false claims against the MEK. Its publication raises questions, not only about the regime’s conduct but the journalists and editors that failed to carry out even basic fact-checking procedures. If they had vetted the information, they would have found that many of the allegations and baseless lies have been debunked many times in courts around the world.

Distracting the Global Media

What is perhaps more troubling is that while the world’s media laps up the regime’s bile and propaganda, frequent and severe human rights abuses are going unreported in Iran. Political, environmental, and human rights activists suffer attacks, arbitrary detention, and torture at the hands of the regime’s agents, yet the international media let them pass unnoticed.

The regime has a rich history of repressing, silencing, and exploiting its population. Iran has endured 40 years of regime rule and has come to expect it from the mullahs. But now, the international media and Der Spiegel is doing the same thing. Repeating the regime’s lies and failing to hold the mullahs to account for blatant and barbaric human rights abuses is tantamount to being an accomplice in these human rights abuses.

It is the international media’s role to give voice to the downtrodden and stand up for justice. Instead, in its most recent piece, Der Spiegel gave voice to the oppressors and only served to tighten the shackles the Iranian people find themselves in.

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Spiegel hit piece against MEK

Why Der Spiegel is Little More than a Regime Mouthpiece

Spiegel hit piece against MEK

Spiegel published a full of lies story about MEK, Iran’s main opposition force, raising an outrage among the Iranian communities-February 2019

Der Spiegel, a German magazine, published a hit piece against the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The piece, entitled “Prisoners of the Rebellion”, went to press on February 16 and contained a host of mistruths and lies about the Iranian opposition groups.

The article spouted the regime’s propaganda without meeting even the basic principles of journalistic integrity. The authors declined to visit the MEK’s compound in Albania and ignored correspondences with the NCRI in which the pro-democracy group sent documents disproving the regime’s allegations. Instead, the writers spent time with the regime’s Basij agents in Iran, interviewed members of the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) disguised as former MEK members without dealing with the group itself directly.

Waiting for the Perfect Time

Nothing demonstrates that the piece was little more than a poorly-informed hatched job against the MEK more than the timing of the piece.

In a statement released following the article’s publication, the NCRI revealed that it had been in communication with Der Spiegel’s deputy foreign editor, Mr Mathieu von Rohr, who had confirmed that the article was due to be published on November 24, 2018.

The article’s publication was delayed until “a time that the Iranian regime needed such “support,” the NCRI’s statement read. The recent conference in Warsaw which saw more than 60 governments from nations around the world come together to explore ways of dealing with the Iranian threat clearly prompted Der Spiegel to believe that this was the time the regime needed the “support” the article could lend.

The article was immediately picked up by all the Iranian state-run media outlets, which centered their coverage on the baseless allegations that the MEK carried out massacres and brutal acts of torture at its base in Albania.

Snubbed Invitations

The NCRI’s statement shows that the MEK and the NCRI had been in contact with von Rohr in the run-up to the article’s publication and were aware of the allegations about to be levied against them.

In a gesture of transparency, the MEK invited Der Spiegel to visit the group’s residence in Albania. The group frequently invites politicians and dignitaries to the compound, most recently former Scottish MEP Struan Stevenson and former Bundestag President Rita Sussmuth both visited the compound. However, Der Spiegel did not reply to the group’s invitation. The magazine clearly had no inclination of getting to the truth of the matter and instead preferred to accept the regime’s lies at face value.

The regime sent a letter instead. The NCRI’s statement claims that Mathieu von Rohr sent a letter with ten questions for the MEK and gave a deadline of one week for the group to answer said questions.

The NCRI’s statement reports that the questions included several regime-originated mistruths and propaganda statements. For example, the first question asked if MEK members were not permitted to use cell phones, clocks, and calendars, an often-touted regime lie.

The NCRI and MEK replied to the ten questions in a 6,600-word reply just four days later. In this letter, they once again extended an invitation to Der Spiegel and implored them to visit the MEK compound. Given that this letter was sent on November 18, and the final article was not published until February 16, there was ample time for Der Spiegel to dispatch reporters to the compound to conduct journalistic due diligence and investigate the regime’s lies.

A Close Relationship

Although Der Spiegel did not publish the article on the intended date of November 24, it did share the article with the Iranian regime. On November 24, the Nejat Association, an offshoot of the regime’s MOIS published a Der Spiegel interview with former MEK member, Gholamreza Shekari. The interview was eventually included in the final Der Spiegel piece.

The fact that the Iranian regime was able to publish segments of the article several months before Der Spiegel published the piece, demonstrates close ties and deep cooperation between the German magazine and the Iranian regime.

Following the publication of the interview, in which Gholamreza, a close regime affiliate, repeated the regime’s usual lies, the NCRI reached out to Der Spiegel once more. The letter read, “what the Iranian people will not forget and will not forgive are the war crimes and the crimes committed by this regime against humanity.” The letter reiterated that these crimes had gone unnoticed and unreported by Der Spiegel.

“The appeasement of the mullahs at the expense of the Iranian people and their suffering and the blood of hundreds of thousands of tortured and executed political prisoners are truly disgusting,” it added.

Finally, the letter concluded, “the regime may reiterate its vile defamation of the PMOI (MEK) with labels such as personality cult, domination, anti-democratic structure and sect as often as it wishes: this will not stop the fall of this regime, a process in which the PMOI (MEK) is at the forefront. The process that will lead to the demise of the mullahs has begun and is irreversible.”

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Mostafa Tajzadeh,

Regime Faction Representative Reveals Coverup of Crime Blamed on MEK

Mostafa Tajzadeh,

Mostafa Tajzadeh, former deputy of the Iranian regime’s interior ministery during Mohammad Khatami’s Presidency, revealing the crimes of the regime during the so called moderate President.

A debate between representatives of Iranian regime factions about the history of the regime and matters of state unexpectedly turned into an admission of guilt for past crimes covered up by the Iranian regime in a recent broadcast on state-run media.

The debate took place between Mostafa Tajzadeh, former Deputy of the Interior Minister during Mohammad Khatami’s presidency (so-called moderate president), and a rival, former MP Alierza Zakani. The debate quickly turned to a discussion of the Iranian regime’s role in two horrific criminal scandals that the regime has previously attempted to conceal and in an attempt to demonize its main opposition had blamed MEK for.

The Chain Murders

The first series of crimes referred to during the debate was a string of more than 80 assassinations of Iranian dissident intellectuals that took place from 1989 to 1998. Khamenei initially claimed that the assassinations, known as the chain murders, were planned and carried out by “foreign enemies,” but subsequent investigations proved that the murders were orchestrated by the Iranian regime and carried out by Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) agents.

Bombing of the Shrine of Imam Reza

The second crime the two faction members referred to was the 1994 bombing of the Shrine of Imam Reza, a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, in Mashhad. The bombing, which was timed to coincide with the holy day of Ashura, killed at least 25 people and injured dozens more. The regime blamed the MEK for the bombing, despite a lack of evidence, and rounded up a number of people who claimed to be part of the Resistance and coerced them into confessing that they had been ordered by the MEK to carry out the attack. These false confessions, which were most likely

The International Committee “In Search of Justice” (ISJ) in a statement dated March 1, 2012, wrote: “Iranian regime has a long history of criticizing the victim instead of the murderer. This regime carried out the murder of Christian priests, the explosion of Imam Reza‘s sacred shrine in 1994 and killings in Mecca in 1988. Later the Iranian officials admitted that they put the responsibility on the opposition to defame them.”the result of torture, were broadcast on state television.

The Debate-Historical confession

During the debate Tajzadeh confessed: “Regarding the chain murders, Mr. Zakani, who has to be exposed? Who was opposed to keeping the issue silent and solving the issue in another way? They suggested to Mr. Khatami to carry out a scheme just like in Mashhad, find two so-called [MEK members] and say they did it. They wanted to extract confessions in ways that they know, and we would execute them.”

The Guardian Spreads the Iranian Regime’s Propaganda

Tajzadeh’s admission is a perfect example of the regime’s technique of committing crimes against its own people and then blaming the MEK for those same crimes. This is a strategy the regime has employed a number of times in its relentless campaign of demonization against the MEK. The goal is to delegitimize the opposition so that it cannot gain support in toppling the ruling regime.

When the MEK had a camp located in Iraq, regime officials claimed that the MEK was responsible for the series of deadly missile attacks carried out by Iraqi proxies of the Iranian regime to dismantle the main opposition to the regime, which eventually forced the residents to flee to Albania. Once the MEK settled into its new home in Albania, the regime tried to bomb its camp there and again claimed that the group had staged the attack itself. After an Iranian regime diplomat was arrested for masterminding a foiled terrorist attack on the annual gathering of the Iranian Resistance last summer in Paris, the regime claimed that the MEK was responsible for the attempted attack on tens of thousands of its own supporters. The European Union disagreed and issued sanctions against the MOIS and two of its agents earlier this month. The regime diplomat accused of masterminding the attack is currently standing trial in Belgium.

Iranian Diplomat-Terrorist and Accomplices Arraigned in Belgian Court on Terrorism Charges

The Iranian regime has a long history of perpetrating crimes and then blaming the MEK for those crimes. The recent televised debate is the latest illustration that this strategy is an open secret in Iran.

 

 

 

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Fake News by Iran's MOIS

MOIS and Revolutionary Guards Launch RESTART Social Media Campaign Against MEK

Fake News by Iran's MOIS

The Iranian regime’s Intelligence Ministry emanates fake news in order to discredit the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq / PMOI) the principal opposition to the religious dictatorship ruling Iran

On Thursday, January 17th, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted a message from the U.S. State Department’s Farsi Twitter account asking the Iranian people to respond with their questions and hopes for the future of their country. The Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and Revolutionary Guards responded to this message by using their forces both inside and outside of Iran to quickly organize a campaign of misinformation against the MEK and the Iranian Resistance.

RESTART Hashtags

By midnight, thousands of anti-MEK and Iranian Resistance tweets had been posted on Twitter using a number of hashtags, primarily variations of #RESTART. The tweets were produced by the regime’s troll factories in Mashhad, Tabriz, Yazd, and Tehran.

While Twitter is forbidden and filtered in Iran, “Restart” – a name given to the self-made “opposition” Tweets tens of thousands tweets from Inside Iran

The hashtags used in the campaign are frequently used by the regime in their demonization campaigns against the MEK and appeared along with the #Restart_ Opposition hashtag. They included #Iranians_hate_PMOI” and “#no_to_ Mojahedin _e_khalq, distributing hit pieces produced by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS).

 

The perpetrators of the campaign used IP addresses located in the United States, Spain, and Germany in order to mask the origin of some of the tweets.

Origin of the RESTART Campaign

 

The RESTART campaign was originally launched several years ago by Mohammad Hosseini and has been used by the regime and its agents a number of times since in its demonization campaigns against the MEK and the Iranian Resistance. Hosseini first gained media attention on state-run television in Iran and then joined the Khamenei-approved Green Movement. He went on to make appearances in the United Arab Emirates, Cyprus, and the United States.

MOIS Agents’ Involvement in the Campaign

In an August 2013 interview with a Los Angeles television station, Hosseini explicitly stated that MOIS agents approached him while he was in the UAE and arranged a meeting, during which they asked him to start a television show. The MOIS agents told him:

“We will provide you with some news that would serve your interest. You will also be able to swear at us. If you have a character problem, we will fix it for you. We will give you news that you also find in other TVs of this kind here. Then gave me some names but I did not see any documents. For instance, they gave a name who is on their payroll and named a TV who is funded by them. They told me, ‘Hosseini, you either take this money from us… or we use a tenth of this money to obstruct your success. Make your decision. You will set up the TV that will be publicized. Its system is available and we will give you the news which is all critical [of the regime].’”

The Iranian Regime Uses Social Media as a Propaganda Tool

This is only the latest example of the regime’s cyber-terrorist actions against the MEK and the Iranian Resistance. Last August, Google, Twitter, and Facebook removed hundreds of fake accounts created by Iranian regime agents. Many of those accounts were used to disseminate propaganda against the MEK.

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Tulip Square - Ashraf 3

Journalists from the National Visit Camp Ashraf

Tulip Square - Ashraf 3

The main entrance of Ashraf 3, the place of the residence of the MEK-Albania

The Iranian regime and its allies in the international media attempt to portray the largest pro-democracy Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) as a brainwashing cult. It has often levied accusations against the group that it holds members at its compound outside the Albanian capital of Tirana against their will.

Daniel M. Zucker Refutes Merat’s Guardian Hit Piece

The MEK has responded by giving international journalists unfettered access to its Albanian compound, Camp Ashraf 3, which houses some 2,500 MEK members. Most recently, the opposition group invited journalists from the National newspaper from Scotland.

A Reeling Economy

Whilst there, the journalists spoke with Senior MEK member, Mehdi Baraie, an active MEK member who spent six years incarcerated in Iran under the Shah.

 

Mr. Mehdi Baraie, one of the Senior member of the MEK

Baraie described the effects of Donald Trump’s renewed sanctions against the Iranian regime was having on the country’s economy. The sanctions have left the Iranian economy reeling as the rial’s value is in freefall against the dollar, inflation is rising, and unemployment is creeping up.

 

“What’s happening now is interesting,” he said. “2018 was a very important year because the uprising continued despite the regime trying everything it could to stop it.”

But Baraie predicted that 2019 would be vital for securing a democratic future for Iran. He explained, “as Ali Khamenei has said, 2019 is vital. Nobody believed the uprising could continue the way it has… Now every day they [the MEK and the Iranian opposition] have demonstrations everywhere.” He concluded, “it’s obvious that the Iranian regime will not be able to continue and will be overthrown.”

A Regime Fighting for Its Survival

As the domestic landscape in Iran becomes more hostile to the regime, and daily protests become more explicit in their calls for regime change, the regime has embarked on a propaganda campaign against the MEK and the Iranian opposition.

It believes that by turning international opinion against the MEK, it will legitimize its violent crackdown against the group, which has seen more than 5,000 members imprisoned and many executed.

The Regime’s Fear is a Sign of Changing Times

A pillar of this disinformation campaign is to portray the MEK as oppressors and hostage-takers. The Iranian regime used a Canadian-Iranian couple, Mostafa and Mahboubeh Mohammadi as mouthpieces and forced them to claim the MEK had taken their daughter, Somayeh, against her will.

Somayeh Mohammadi, MEK member now living in Albania

The pair told the international media that the organization was holding their daughter at Camp Ashraf 3 and that she was unable to leave the compound.

This narrative has been exposed as a lie. Somayeh told the National that her father was working on behalf of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS). She said, “when I wanted to leave Canada and join the MEK movement my parents would not give their consent.”

Somayeh’s father was among the Iranian agents that traveled to the MEK’s former camp in Iraq and installed loudspeakers around the compound making threats against the members inside. Somayeh recounts how her father was involved in blaring messages of abuse and death threats towards herself and other MEK members.

“He was claiming that he loves me as my father but was against what I wanted to do,” she said, adding, “what kind of father would do this to their child?”

Somayeh has appeared in public disputing her father’s claims that she is being held against her will. She even wrote a book debunking the regime’s lies about her and her family.

Her father had all his claims rejected by the Iraqi judiciary. After an Iraqi judge interviewed Somayeh, the judge concluded that Somayeh was staying with the MEK at its compound of her own free will.

The prosecution determined that he had been in regular contact with the Iranian regime, which was also apparent in his travel arrangements. “He was staying at the most expensive hotel in Tirana, the Plaza. How could he afford to stay in a hotel like this for four months when back home in Canada he was a builder, an ordinary construction worker?” Somayeh exclaimed.

“I go out with my friends every other day. I can go to Tirana and buy whatever I need, I go to shops or the hospital, where I translate for PMOI [MEK] residents who need treatment,” she said.

A Terrorist Regime

The Iranian regime spreads these falsehoods and lies as part of a wider strategy to eradicate the MEK. In March, the Albanian authorities uncovered a plot to bomb the MEK’s compound during the Persian New Year celebrations. Fortunately, the agents involved were arrested before it was allowed to develop.

Then, in June, the Iranian leadership planned a car bomb attack on the MEK’s annual Grand Gathering in Paris. The plan was also foiled, and the Belgian authorities saved the lives of countless numbers of the 100,000 supporters who gathered at the event.

Following the foiled Paris attack, the French government concluded that senior members of the Iranian regime had been involved in the planning and execution of the terrorist plot. It froze the assets of several MOIS officials and expelled two Iranian diplomats from the country.

Baraie told the National, “the international community should put the Iran intelligence [MOIS] and [the] IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] on the terror list.”

Baraie echoed the belief of many of the MEK and the international community that the increased volume of attacks and propaganda aimed at the MEK demonstrates one thing; that the group represents a very real threat to the regime.

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

The mullahs know their days are numbered. They are resorting to violence and dishonesty in an attempt to stay in power. But everyone at Camp Ashraf 3 knows their plans. They know they have the support of the Iranian people. They know they will secure a peaceful, democratic future for Iran.

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Claas Relotius, Spiegel's recently sacked writer

The Western Media Is in the Midst of an Integrity Crisis

Claas Relotius, Spiegel's recently sacked writer

Claas Relotius, an editor of Der Spiegel Magazine in Germany that had been providing false and fabricated news in his articles in the Spiegel

In what has been called the “biggest fraud scandal in journalism since the Hitler diaries”, Claas Relotius, an editor of Der Spiegel Magazine in Germany, has been stripped of his journalism awards by CNN and other outlets.

During his seven-year career at Der Spiegel, Relotius published lies in his stories, often not bothering to visit and interview the places and subjects he wrote about. His features were at times, pure fabrication, and the case has rocked European journalism to its foundations.

A Systematic Campaign of Lies

Responding to this scandal, the International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ) published its own statement. While it unequivocally and forcefully condemned Relotius’ behavior, it posed the striking question: how does his conduct differ from other deliberate international misinformation campaigns?

Relotius pedaled falsehoods and invented feature stories, but he is far from the only international journalist doing so at this moment. In recent months and years, The Guardian, The Independent, Channel 4 News, and Al Jazeera have also published pieces based on information and sources from within the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS), which is viciously hostile to opposition groups like the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK).

Each article has spouted the same falsehoods and lies that originated through the Iranian propaganda and state-run media networks. These “journalists”, like Relotius, publish this information as though it is fact, without fact-checking or investigating the merit of their sources.

Former Vice-President of the European Parliament: The Guardian has Stabbed the Free Press in the Back

Most recently, Arron Reza Merat published a hit piece against the MEK in the British newspaper, The Guardian. He repeated regime accusations of murder and kidnap, often levied at the group, all of which have been extensively disproved in the public sphere.

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

Merat’s sources were MOIS affiliates who introduced themselves as former MEK members.

In Contrast to the International Community

One sign that Merat’s piece failed to paint an accurate picture of the situation in Albania is that a month after the piece was published, the Albanian government expelled the Iranian diplomats working out of the regime’s embassy in Tirana for conspiring against the MEK.

Following their expulsion, US president Donal Trump expressed his gratitude to the Albanian government for its “steadfast efforts to stand up to Iran and to counter its destabilizing activities and efforts to silence dissidents around the globe”.

Albania’s Decision to Expel Regime Diplomats is Welcomed by the Trump Administration

Given the increasing pressure the clerical regime faces in Iran through MEK-organised protests and resistance group activities, the regime is particularly eager to find international journalists willing to publish hit pieces against the opposition group.

The ISJ statement, penned by Alejo Vidal-Quadras, the former Vice-President of the European Parliament, concluded that “it’s time to break the silence vis-à-vis the Iranian regime’s malign influence in the Western press”. He added, “the media outlets responsible for disseminating the Iran articles based on distorted facts and dishonest sources seem unwilling to do so. Shame on them.”

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Terribly biased article on the Guardian against the MEK

Daniel M. Zucker Refutes Merat’s Guardian Hit Piece

Terribly biased article on the Guardian against the MEK

Biased article bashing the MEK in the Guardian raises outrage among the Iranian diaspora. The piece is considered a reaction to the recent surge in protests and strikes in the country and a preparation for more terrorist activities against the main opposition, the MEK.

Augusta Free Press published a refute of a Guardian article by Dr. Daniel M. Zucker, founder of Americans for Democracy in the Middle East and prominent author on Middle Eastern politics.

In the final months of 2018, British newspaper the Guardian published a hit piece against the Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK). The piece, published by Arron Reza Merat, a known regime affiliate, pedaled regime mistruths and lies in an attempt to influence public opinion against the Iranian opposition.

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

Zucker describes how the Iranian Ministry of Security (MOIS) took a leaf from the Russian KGB in its disinformation procedures. It combines truths with lies. The truths provide “authenticity” and provide facts the regime can point to when it is questioned by critics. But it also sews substantial and glaring lies into the narrative, deliberately designed to deceive and manipulate.

The Lies Sewn into Regime Discourse

The Guardian’s piece contained a litany of these mistruths deliberately fed into the text. It regurgitated the regime claim that the MEK murdered several US citizens in the 1970s. The claim has often been brought against the group, but it has been publicly disproved several times.

Zucker asserts that the murders were carried out at a time when the MEK leadership was in regime custody. A Marxist splinter group known as Peykar has already been held accountable for the murders.

Falsehoods and Lies: Debunking the Guardian’s Piece on the MEK

The piece also explains about the MEK taking up weapons to fight the Iranian regime after the mullahs’ regime imposed absolute repression. The MEK took up arms to defend itself after Khomeini [regime Supreme Leader] had ordered the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to open fire on 500,000 peaceful MEK supporters during the June 20, 1981, peaceful demonstration in Tehran. Hundreds of Iranian citizens, supporters of MEK were killed in the onslaught.

https://kurdsanddisinformation.com/

The MEK in Iraq took up arms to defend their defenseless Iranian compatriots. The regime likes to pedal the lie that the MEK was involved in the 1988 gassing of the Halajab Kurds, but again, this is untrue. The Iraqi foreign minister, who is a Kurd himself, absolves the MEK of responsibility and proclaimed their innocence in the crimes.

Forced Membership Allegations

Another of the common regime accusations against the MEK centers on allegations it forces Iranians to join its ranks, and once involved with the organization, they are prevented from leaving.

This has also been publicly refuted time and time again. Recent visitors to the MEK compound, including high profile European politicians, have confirmed that MEK members are free to come and go as they please.

Former Scottish MEP Describes His Visit to Ashraf 3 in Albania and the Regime’s Vicious Misinformation Campaign

Everything the MEK does is done with the voluntary cooperation of its members, who are highly educated and capable of coherent decision-making.

 

Zucker also mentions the case of Somayeh Mohammadi, whose parents have frequently appeared on Iranian state-run media outlets and argued that the MEK is holding their daughter against her will. Somayeh Mohammadi has frequently denied this claim in public. She has revealed that her father is an agent of the regime and has publicly refuted his claims.

The Rise of the MEK and Overcoming the Regime’s Smear Campaign.

The Nazi Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels once professed that to win a propaganda war, you must lie, and lie big. The Iranian regime undoubtedly has that mentality in mind when it uses its affiliates to spread mistruths and falsehoods across international media outlets.

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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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What we are not seeing in Iran

Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian opposition, joins the general election of the MEK Secretary-General, September 2017. After her election as PMOI/MEK Secretary General, Zahra Merrikhi pledges to bring freedom to Iran

The wind of change blows in Iran. A lot of people feel it. A few people try to ignore it, not daring to face the consequences. But generally, it seems to be a proven fact that change is on its way. There are however important factors which are being ignored in the process…

In its bid to survive, the ruling regime seems to be eking out every last drop out of its legitimacy and is on the verge of an internal conflict of power among its warring factions. Public support is shrinking to new depths. Political unrest calling for regime change is now an everyday phenomenon.

The regime’s intervention in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere have bled the regime financially. Demonstrators in Iran are calling for their money invested in banks related to the Pasdaran Army (Revolutionary Guards Corps), but the institutions are bankrupt because of the continuous funding of extraterritorial military projects.

Politically, different political clans within the regime are at each other’s throats on specific issues such as the defunct nuclear deal with the West and the rejected FATF agreements on monetary transactions, among others.

The regime’s popularity, limited to a very thin social circle consisting of families of those under arms and the feared paramilitary Bassij (popular mobilization) force, is at its lowest point. Some two hundred towns across the country have experienced unrest against oppressive measures undertaken by the regime.

The international situation has never been so bad. Donald Trump seems convinced to go to the very end with the rejection of the nuclear deal, while European and other support seems unable to balance the American rejection.

This is not the first time the regime has faced grave difficulty. In 2009, Iran came close to social chaos following presidential elections leading to a second presidential term for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But at that time, the stakes were only political and limited to Tehran, the capital. The opposition movement was led by dissident elements from the power’s inner circle. Also, on an international level, a reluctant Barak Obama was far from today’s Donald Trump who supports the popular movement in Iran.

The current unrest has lasted ten months. It stems from an unprecedented political and economic situation with no way out and with too many victims. Demonstrators do not hesitate to call for regime change, and a large number of towns now engaged in political unrest marks a significant break from 2009. Oppressive forces have to control vast territory and numerous cities, above all, they cannot afford to give an inch in Tehran.

Additionally, an important internal element is playing a role in the regime’s latest existential crisis. Organized groups are coordinating political unrest in cities across Iran. Social media is allowing for the grassroots mobilization of the Iranian opposition.

In February, the regime’s president Hassan Rohani called Emmanuel Macron, the French president, to ask for his support in muzzling the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization, or the MEK. Rohani claimed the MEK was engaging in planning and organizing activities in France. MEK’s umbrella organization, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, NCRI, is based in the French town of Auvers-sur-Oise. In any case, the French did not bother to answer Rohani’s call.

Later in June, a mass assassination plan was defused in Belgium. The attack targeted a huge meeting organized by the NCRI in Villepinte, north of Paris. An Iranian diplomat based in Vienna was arrested with three other individuals found with 500 grams of a powerful explosive and detonation mechanism. The four will go on trial in Belgium on premeditated murder charges.

Youth Vow to Make a Free Iran Possible At NCRI Gathering

In the meantime, Iranian leaders including the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei have not hesitated to point to MEK as the main instigator of the domestic unrest in Iran. The MEK’s leadership is the making the real difference between the current opposition movement in Iran and its previous ones.

Massoud Rajavi, the historical leader of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/ MEK)

Founded in 1965, MEK spent a dozen years fighting the Shah’s regime. MEK’s historical leader, Massoud Rajavi spent eight years in the Shah’s prisons before being liberated by the people’s uprising a few days before the Shah left Iran, for good.

Ideologically, the MEK is known for its modern, tolerant interpretation of Islam, its patriotism, and its social program calling for social justice and respect for Iran’s history and culture. The founding members were executed by the Shah in early 1970s. Their struggle for freedom and their tolerant Islam earned them much respect, even among religious circles close to the actual ruling clique.

Many of Iran’s current officials sympathized with the MEK at the time when the organization was bravely fighting the Shah. Clerics currently ruling the country kept a low profile under the Shah to avoid persecution by the feared SAVAK, the Shah’s oppressive secret police. Meanwhile, MEK members were being tortured and executed in the SAVAK’s prisons.

After their rise to power, the mullahs had a single serious opponent; the MEK. The organization underwent the most severe oppression in Iran’s modern history. More than a hundred thousand of its members and sympathizers were eliminated.

Dr. Alejo Vidal-Quadras Speaks at Geneva Conference Commemorating 1988 Massacre

In 1988, following the Iran-Iraq war, some thirty thousand members were massacred while serving time in the regime’s prisons. But the organization managed to keep many of its cadres out of the regime’s reach. It formed a National Liberation Army during the Iran-Iraq war in Iraq and finally evacuated its members in a spectacular operation in 2016 when more than 3,000 members were relocated to Albania.

Thus, in the regime’s worst days currently unfolding, its sole political opponent is very much present on the political scene. At the MEK’s last great gathering in Villepinte in France, the one targeted by the regime’s terror operation, more than a hundred thousand members of the Iranian diaspora gathered, as well as political figures including Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and many other internationally known political figures.

The most important issue the MEK champions is a total regime change in the country. The never fading presence of MEK has had an important political effect on the regime. It has made any halfway or reformist bid to modify or moderate the same regime utterly meaningless.

Most revolutions have changed course, towards more moderate rules, with objectives diverging from those held at the beginning of their campaign. When faced with an absence of opposition, even well-meaning revolutionary groups can evolve into a brutal regime once in power.

The Iranian revolution was no exception. However, in the case of the clerical regime, brutal repression was not able to eliminate the real opposition. This has had a by-effect: there can be no transmutation towards a more moderate version of the same regime while a total opposition is still alive.

In other classical cases, a compromise can be found, some sort of provisional or long-lasting solution emerging from the national social demands. But this Iran is no classical case. In fact, no compromise is possible between the opposition and the regime in power in Iran. Regime change is an integral part of the founding declaration of the National Council of Resistance, the political umbrella for MEK’s struggle against the regime.

This is one of the essential elements that a great number of people interested in the Iranian problem ignore: the ever-growing role and effect of the MEK on the course of events in Iran. The continuous denial and suppression of any opposition movement in Iran are triggering a domestic backlash.

A smear campaign aiming to discredit the opposition movement by the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence, along with vast lobbying efforts by preachers forms part of this systematic denial effort. But the whole house of cards began to tremble when the most important authorities in the country, beginning with the supreme leader, pointed to the MEK as the main factor behind this year’s civil unrest in the country. In his speech on January 9, Ali Khamenei stated:

“The incidents were organized and carried out by the MEK (although he used a different pejorative term). They had prepared for this months ago, and their media outlets had called for it.”

Prior to this defining moment, the regime’s leadership had publicly ignored the MEK’s presence in Iran. Khamenei’s speech indicated that the regime has thus changed its policy. It can no longer afford to ignore the danger the MEK represents. It is now clearly identifying the real danger the MEK represents in order to direct its repressive forces against the group.

Regime Official: The Threat Knows No Bounds

The change is not limited to words. For years, the Iranian regime has shown self-restraint when it comes to the assassination of opponents abroad. The regime had initiated more than 400 assassination attempts against opposition members outside its borders until the late 1990s. Then, Iranian rulers were condemned in absentia, by European courts for having ordered opponents to be killed on European territory.

With the failed explosion attempt at Villepinte in France, the sleeping dragon seems to have been awakened. At least two other such attempts have been discovered since the failed Paris attack, and there remains little doubt that the tacit agreement not to take such action in the West has breathed its last breath.

The changing stance of the mullahs towards the MEK is an important indicator of the threat the regime now faces. For years, a line of appeasement has prevailed among international governments. However, this approach has proved fruitless.

Another approach is necessary, one which endorses total regime change as the solution. Those wishfully thinking that a moderate force will emerge within the regime and amend its behavior and policy are ignoring the real influential factors on the ground, particularly the MEK and the traction it is gaining both inside and outside Iran.

Iran State Media Acknowledges MEK Can Topple Regime

The MEK and the Iranian regime’s disinformation

The Iranian public has been protesting in ever greater numbers and in an expanding list of localities since December 2017. Iran’s people are making it clear that they seek a regime change. This is key to understanding the developments in the domestic situation in Iran.

MEK has enjoyed unrivaled success in undermining the regime’s actions and strategies by sustaining complex anti-government campaigns such as exposing the regime’s nuclear sites and terror networks in the Middle East and across the world. It is now exposing the corruption and repression carried out by the theocratic regime in Iran. Therefore, it is easy to understand why the mullahs are so desperate to demonize the MEK, especially at a time when they are rapidly losing their international appeasers and their string of terror plots to physically damage the MEK have been unsuccessful.

Three full pages in the Guardian, a British newspaper, is part of the Iranian regime’s desperate attempt to hit its strongest opposition group. Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, once said: “Tell a lie that’s big enough, and repeat it often enough, and the whole world will believe it.” But we say there is a limit to this. You cannot fool and trick the whole world forever just by repeating a very big lie in paid international media outlets.

The Guardian article “Terrorist, cultists – or champions of Iranian democracy?” written by Arron Reza Merat, a known anti MEK element of the Mullahs’ Intelligence Ministry who has infiltrated the Guardian, is an attempt to depict a violent, wild and power-thirsty picture of the MEK in a bid to evaporate Western sympathies to the Iranian opposition.

But it is too little too late. Today, MEK is not an unknown name that can be adequately vilified in a Goebbels-style article by Reza Merat. Its history is already known to many Iranians who wholeheartedly support it, and it is widely renowned by many prominent international politicians who have offered it unfettered support for over 15 years.

MEK History

The 1950s and 1960s were marked by severe repression against dissidents in Iran. After conducting a coup in 1953 against Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, Iran’s popular Prime Minister who nationalized the country’s oil industry, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iran’s monarch, forced all opposition groups and movements into silence and submission.

However, on September 6, 1965, three Iranian intellectuals, Mohammad HanifnejadSaeid Mohsen and Ali Asghar Badizadegan, founded a new opposition movement that later became the MEK. They were inspired by the authentic interpretation of Islam that rejects all forms of fundamentalism, which had previously been the dominant interpretation of the religion in Iran.

Since its founding, the MEK has been opposed to the atheist/Muslim conflict that the fundamentalist mullahs promote. Hanifnejad and the other founders of the MEK stressed that the real conflict was not between faiths but between the tyrants (the Shah regime) and the oppressed (the people of Iran, regardless of their faith and ethnicity).

In the first five years, the MEK’s founders concentrated on recruiting new members and creating a network of elite cadres that could lead the movement through the hard times that would come. They engaged in thorough studies of all doctrines to gather everything that could help in their struggle because they viewed the struggle for freedom as a science to be studied and acquired in order to succeed where their predecessors had failed. After thorough examination and studies, Hanifnejad and his comrades eventually chose democratic Islam as the ideology that could best serve the aspirations of the Iranian people.

Thus, the MEK founders embarked on a long journey to establish freedom and democracy in their country and they paid a heavy price to defend the rights of their people. Their conduct has set an example of persistence and loyalty that is still admired by Iranians to this day.

Massoud Rajavi, the popular candidate for the presidency in Iran in the wake of the 1979 revolution. Rouhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s religious dictatorship prevented him from running, since he felt a big threat, given rajavi’s popularity among all sectors of the society, and religious and ethnic minorities. He was known as the candidate of the new generation.

The MEK’s founders also recruited people who were willing to dedicate every hour to help advance the organization’s goals. They concluded that the fight for freedom and democracy can’t be a part-time job. The first people to join the movement were young intellectuals and university students. Among them was Massoud Rajavi, a young student who later became pivotal in shaping the organization’s future.

In August 1971, while the Iranian monarchy was preparing for its much-advertised festivities to celebrate its longtime rule, more than 80 percent of MEK’s members, including all of its leaders were arrested. This was a hard strike against the nascent organization, but it also led to the widespread recognition and popularity of the MEK among the Iranian people.

Stories of the MEK’s resistance in the Shah’s prisons and courts circulated among Iranians by word of mouth. Soon the organization had managed to build a solid and widespread support base in Iranian society, with supporters from all walks of life.

The ruling mullahs of today, who themselves did nothing efficient against the Shah, are well aware of the history of popular support for the MEK in Iranian hearts and homes. But they disgracefully pretend the opposite is true in their demonization campaigns.

On May 25, 1972, the Shah’s regime executed the MEK’s founders and of all its leading members. Only Massoud Rajavi was spared. He was saved from imminent death thanks to an international campaign by his brother, Kazem Rajavi who was a renowned jurist and politician in Switzerland. Kazem managed to get Massoud’s death sentence revoked by rallying several international organizations and politicians in support of Massoud. Among those politicians was Francois Mitterrand, the leader of the French Socialist Party and the future President of France.

A failed coup within the ranks of the MEK

In September 1975, the MEK was still recovering from the execution of most of its leadership cadre. During this period, a separatist Maoist group tried to change the ideology of the MEK and hijack its name and emblem. They went as far as intimidating, oppressing and even killing the MEK members who remained loyal to the organization’s original mindset and ideology. This group was responsible for killing several Americans in Iran in those years, something which is mistakenly being attributed to the MEK members in the mullahs’ demonization campaign against the MEK, also repeatedly used by the Iran lobbies.

Thanks to the efforts of Massoud Rajavi, the organization was brought back from the brink. In the fall of 1976, while Massoud was in the Shah’s prison, he issued a 12-point declaration, in which he reasserted the true foundations of the MEK’s ideology and its principles. The declaration became the basis upon which all MEK members resist the world’s most brutal regime and number one executioner.

Since Khomeini’s rise to power, the MEK has constantly warned of the new regime’s human rights abuses, including the repression of women, minorities and all opposition forces. As the main defender of freedoms, the MEK quickly built up an expanding base of support across the Iranian population, especially among young people and intellectuals. In less than two years, MEK became the largest political movement in Iran.

Mek Political Platform

However, during these two years, Khomeini’s regime carried out a brutal and merciless crackdown that spared neither women, nor students, nor minorities. In the same period, Khomeini’s henchmen murdered 70 members and supporters of the MEK at peaceful rallies, meetings, and protests. The regime’s conduct in this period was deliberately deleted from all its state-published and affiliated media reports, including the Guardian article.

On June 20, 1981, the MEK tested Iran’s democratic environment a final time by launching a peaceful demonstration to remind the Khomeini regime of its responsibilities to respect the fundamental freedoms of the Iranian people. In Tehran, more than 500,000 attended. In response, Khomeini ordered the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), his personal army, to open fire on the unarmed and peaceful protesters.

The following day, the Iranian regime launched a ruthless crackdown against all opposition forces, especially the supporters and members of the MEK. The regime’s forces pursued and executed many of the Mojahedin’s members in the streets, and thousands were dragged into the regime’s prisons, where they were subjected to inhumane methods of torture and were later executed. Women, children, the elderly—no one was spared.

Following the ban of all opposition forces, the Khomeini regime executed and murdered some 120,000 people, most of whom were affiliated with the MEK. In Khomeini’s prisons, his guards and executioners resorted to the vilest and most brutal torture methods. Khomeini’s fatwas gave his torturers free rein to do anything they wanted to torment the MEK members and sympathizers, including rape, severing body organs, gouging eyes, and other deplorable and vile acts.

According to eyewitness accounts, the regime’s guards extracted blood from the MEK members before executing them, so they could use it for the medical needs of their own guards and soldiers. Pregnant women were tortured and executed. Young girls were raped before their execution. The imprisoned MEK members suffered a truly evil fate at the hands of the regime.

Under these circumstances, on July 21, 1981, a month after the beginning of Khomeini’s reign of terror, Massoud Rajavi founded the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a coalition of Iran’s opposition forces that aspired to replace the violent brand of religious fascism promoted by Khomeini with a democratic, pluralist and secular state. A week later, on July 29, the leaders of the MEK left Iran with help from the brave and freedom-loving officers of the Iranian Air Force. Rajavi took refuge in France, from where he continued to lead the struggle for freedom against the Iranian regime.

Iran-Iraq War

The regime has massaged the narrative of the Iran-Iraq war to hide its war-mongering activities. In 1980, when the Iraqi army occupied parts of Iran, the MEK was quick to take up arms and defend their homeland.

But as soon as the Iraqi army released its hold on Iranian land and retreated back behind international borders, the continuation of the war was no longer justified and the MEK was also quick to call for peace between the two countries. Meanwhile, Khomeini insisted on continuing the war until and pushed for the overthrow of the Iraqi government. The Iran-Iraq war went on to cause the avoidable deaths of millions on both sides, while peace was totally achievable.

The war provided Khomeini with the perfect pretext to suppress the demands of the people. He used the excuse of being at war as a pretext to crack down on all the regime’s political opponents, accusing them of weakening the government and colluding with foreign enemies.

On September 10, 1982, Massoud Rajavi met with the then Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz at the NCRI’s Paris headquarters and signed a peace agreement with the Iraqi government on behalf of the MEK and the Iranian people. The move proved that peace was achievable and that the Iranian regime was prolonging the Iran-Iraq war against the wishes of the Iranian public.

The MEK’s peace effort gained international recognition and support and was endorsed by 5,000 politicians from 57 countries worldwide.

The rise of women in leadership roles in MEK

In the six years that followed the 1979 revolution, female members of the MEK were active in their resistance against the religious and misogynous rule of Khomeini.

 

Eventually, on March 10, 1985, women found their true place in the leadership ranks of the MEK when Maryam Azdanlou (Rajavi) became the co-leader of the MEK. The event marked a turning point in the history of the MEK in its struggle against the Khomeini’s fundamentalist ideology, which had been particularly harsh towards Iranian women.

It was the MEK’s conviction that if women were the primary victims of the Iranian regime, then they should be given a privileged status in the MEK’s ranks which stands opposed to the mullahs’ rule in every way. This illustrated the MEK’s genuine commitment to equality between women and men.

MEK relocated to Iraq

On June 7, 1986, under pressure from the French government, which was deeply engaged in dealings with the Iranian regime, Massoud Rajavi left France for Iraq. There he founded the National Liberation Army (NLA) on June 20, 1987. The NLA became a major force in opposition to the Iranian regime.

The Iraqi government in Baghdad agreed it would not interfere in the politics and operations of the MEK and its NLA. The MEK predicated its presence in Iraq would preserve its independence.

On July 25, 1988, the NLA launched its largest operation, called “Eternal Light,” in which it targeted the entirety of the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime suffered 55,000 casualties, and on its part, the NLA lost 1,304 of its officers and soldiers, heroes who laid down their lives for the freedom of their country. MEK members who returned alive were more determined than ever to bring freedom to their homeland, Iran. There was no sign of defeat and failure in the minds of those who survived.

Middle East analysts and observers attributed Khomenei’s acceptance of the ceasefire with Iraq in 1988 to the efforts of the NLA.

The massacre of MEK members and supporters in Iran’s prisons

In the summer of 1988, the Iranian regime began a mass purge of its prisons from political prisoners, executing anyone who refused to repent for their opposition to the rule of Khomeini.

Families of Victims of 1988 Massacre Still Seek Justice

In the span of a few months, the regime’s executioners sent more than 30,000 prisoners to the gallows. This was a genocide, a crime against humanity without precedent, which became known as the “1988 massacre.”

Contrary to what has been said by regime mouthpieces in the demonization campaigns against the MEK, it was later revealed in summer 2016 in an audio tape of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the heir-apparent to Khomeini, that the regime leadership extensively planned the massacre.  Plans for the 1988 massacre began months earlier, as Khomeini became worried of the future of his regime and his tenuous hold on power and it was not the result of the MEK’s largest operation.

The 1990s and 2000s: The policy of appeasement

During the 1990s, western states engaged in a new drive of rapprochement towards the Iranian regime, hoping they could preserve their economic interests and avoid the obvious threats emanating from Tehran. Naturally, it was the Iranian people and the MEK that paid the price of this failed policy.

In 1997, the US administration, under the presidency of Bill Clinton, inserted the MEK into its list of foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) as a goodwill gesture to Mohammad Khatami, the newly appointed president of the Iranian regime, who presented himself as a “moderate” and “reformist.”

European states followed suit and classified the MEK as a terrorist organization in an effort spearheaded by Jack Straw, then-foreign minister of the United Kingdom. Straw was known for his endorsement a policy of appeasement towards the Iranian regime, an attitude that made him the object of much criticism from the Iranian people inside Iran and abroad. Canada and Australia also soon followed the UK’s lead.

The adoption of a policy of appeasement triggered a wave pressure against the MEK and the Iranian resistance, resulting in the suffering and deaths of many innocent people. The bombing of MEK camps in Iraq during the 2003 US-Iraq conflict, the coup-d’état of July 17, 2003, against NCRI headquarters in France, and the numerous raids and rocket attacks against MEK camps in Iraq were just some of the results of that policy of appeasement.

Having been through many trials and ordeals during their decades-long history, the MEK was not intimidated by the show of power of the Iranian regime and its foreign cohorts. MEK’s victory in getting the organization removed from terror lists or, better put, the victory of justice and truth was the end result of the MEK’s engagement in a legal battle that lasted more than 15 years.

In 2009, the European Union removed the MEK from its list of terrorist organizations. In the years that followed, the US judiciary declared that the MEK had been wrongly designated as a terrorist group, and in 2012, the US State Department removed the label. Canada and Australia also removed the MEK from their lists shortly after the US.

Camp Ashraf and MEK’s relocation to Albania

Camp Ashraf, situated 77 kilometers north of Baghdad, was home to thousands of MEK members for 25 years. Prior to the 2003 US-led war in Iraq, the MEK publicly declared its neutrality and played no part in the ensuing conflict. However, exploiting the post-invasion atmosphere in Iraq, the Iranian regime did its utmost to destroy and demonize the MEK.

Three massacres at Camp Ashraf, five missile attacks on Camp Liberty, two cases of abduction of residents, and the imposition of an eight-year siege, which left 177 residents dead, constituted parts of this inhumane, albeit futile, plan.

The regime’s enormous efforts to create rifts among the ranks of the also MEK failed. Foreigners were astounded at the high morale in Camp Ashraf. Such a level of liveliness under such difficult conditions came from the depth of the residents’ profound belief in freedom.

The main entrance to Camp Ashraf – Iraq, the former residence of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK / PMOI)

During all those years, Ashraf residents enjoyed excellent relations with the communities and people of surrounding towns and villages in Diyala province of Iraq.

Ashraf also invested heavily in infrastructure projects in the region. A water purification plant provided water to tens of thousands of people in surrounding towns. Local Iraqi residents were welcome at Ashraf medical clinics. A new electricity grid and roads benefited the entire region.

Some 5.2 million Iraqis signed a petition in June 2006 warning of the Iranian regime’s dangers in Iraq and describing the MEK as the main bulwark against the regime’s interventions. More than 3 million Iraqi Shiites signed a declaration in June 2008 calling for the eviction of the regime and its agents from Iraq and the removal of restrictions imposed on MEK members residing in Ashraf City.

The Iranian regime launched a campaign to have the MEK dismantled but it ultimately due to the skill and competence of Camp Ashraf’s leaders, of which the large majority were women.

This explains why female members of the MEK were extensively targeted by the Iranian regime’s propaganda machine, including in the recent Guardian article. The mullahs attack the MEK’s women using fake stories featuring a host of female defectors. All the fake stories about women being abused in the MEK and being held against their will are nothing but the mullahs’ lies and propaganda without a shred of truth.

Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian opposition, addresses the MEK members after their relocation to Albania- October 2017

In 2016, while the Iranian regime and its Iraqi proxies were trying to exterminate the MEK in Iraq, an international effort led by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the NCRI, succeeded in relocating all members of the organization to Albania. The event was a major achievement for the MEK, whose members could now intensify their efforts in leading the struggle for freedom in Iran. It was a major defeat for the Iranian regime, whose existence depended on destroying its main opposition.

The Iranian regime now finds itself in a dangerous position. It has started losing its international supporters while the networks of MEK supporters and activists continue to expand inside Iran. The MEK’s resistance units play a major role in keeping the flame of resistance alit and preventing the regime from suffocating the voice of protesters.

As a result, the protests continue in every city and corner of Iran, and protesters are calling for the overthrow of the Iranian regime, a goal that the MEK has been striving for since 1981. As the mullahs’ regime inches towards its inevitable collapse, the MEK, which has been through countless trials and tribulations, thrives and aims to fulfill the dreams of the Iranian people.

Staff Writer

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