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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”.

Staff Writer

 

 

 

 

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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.

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Professor Sascha Sheehan

How Tehran Manipulates Journalistic Independence in the West

Professor Sascha Sheehan

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

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

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

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

The Guardian Spreads the Iranian Regime’s Propaganda

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rebuttals have been limited

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

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

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

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Simaye Azadi telethon-November 2018

MEK reports: Supporting Independent News Outlets is More Important Now Than Ever

Simaye Azadi telethon-November 2018

Simay Azadi Telethon held from November 30th to December 2, 2018- A parade of support for MEK and the Iranian opposition at home

Given the extent of the Iranian regime’s campaign of disinformation, lending support to trustworthy Iranian news outlets is now more important than ever, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK).

In September, Twitter announced the closure of 770 regime-affiliated accounts, in one of the regime’s largest disinformation campaigns to date. The accounts spread deliberately inflammatory content, often demonizing the MEK and other members of the Iranian opposition.

Shortly afterward, a three-page article appeared in the British newspaper, the Guardian. The piece, written by Arron Merat, a known regime affiliate with ties to the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), also spread lies and falsehoods about the MEK.

The most recent example of the regime’s disinformation campaign came from a Reuter’s report which identified 70 websites dedicated to spreading the regime’s lies and propaganda.

These misinformation campaigns are particularly damaging to the MEK and the Iranian resistance. The regime uses its propaganda outlets to legitimize terror attacks on resistance groups, much like the bomb attack planned at the MEK’s Grand Gathering event in Paris.

Domestic Propaganda

These misinformation campaigns targeted independent observers and citizens abroad. For example, many of the 770 regime-affiliated Twitter accounts were regime affiliate posing as foreign journalists and citizens.

But perhaps the most extensive misinformation campaign is being waged at home, within Iran. Hassan Rouhani has systematically dismantled the free press. He has shuttered independent news outlets, tightened restrictions on social media access and restricted the news people reach online.

Lending Support to Free and Independent Media

Although many large independent news outlets have been shuttered, there are still sources of reliable, independent information on offer to the Iranian public.

Supporting these independent outlets is more important now than ever before. Since the nationwide uprisings in December and January, the clamor for regime change among the Iranian people has intensified.

However, without an independent free press, these demands go unheard. Free and independent media outlets give voice to these demands and show citizens across Iran that they are not alone.

One example of Iran’s independent media was on display in the Simaye Azadi’s telethon (Iran National Television-INTV). Despite the intense constraints surrounding the media in Iran, Azadi has consistently given the Iranian people a voice in these dark times. This has earned him the support of the Iranian people.

The financial independence of Iran National Television allows it to operate in an environment where many other independent outlets are forced to cave to regime oppression.

INTV holds regular fundraising telethons through which finances are raised. Even in times of extreme economic hardship, like those facing Iranians today, the Iranian public digs deeps and gives what it can to INTV during these difficult times to ensure Iran’s free press lives on and gives hope to millions.

This does not come without risk. Unfortunately, the regime has put to death activists accused of supporting media outlets, yet many Iranians will not be deterred and are willing to risk it all to ensure Iranians are kept abreast of the latest human rights abuses, protests, and incarcerations of the Iranian resistance movement.

INTV also receives extensive support from the Iranian diaspora across the world. At the channel’s latest telethon, Saeed in the United States donated $250,000 to the outlet. He said, “as a physician, I have dedicated a large part of my career to be able to support the movement and consider this as part of my share to free Iran”.

https://twitter.com/4FreedominIran/status/1068969825823797250f the Iranian people”.

Several high-profile politicians also called on people across the world to support Iranian freedom of speech and the free press by donating to INTV. Struan Stevenson, a former Scottish member of the European Parliament (MEP) told supporters over Twitter, “I encourage everyone to support the 30 Nov-2 Dec telethon”.

“Our sole weapon… are our truthfulness and our honesty”

Senior MEK member, Ehsan Amin praised Azadi for his tireless devotion to upholding the principles of a free and independent media organization. Amin said, “Azadi has always been in the front line of the struggle against the regime’s smear campaign against the Resistance, and plays a vital role in revealing the true nature of such allegations”.

Amin added, “our sole weapon in the face of the regime’s demagogy is our truthfulness and our honesty”.

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OPCW session in the Hague

U.S. Ambassador Says Iranian Regime Violated Chemical Weapons Treaty

OPCW session in the Hague

An extraordinary session of member-states of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague-November 2018

The Iranian regime has long relied on policies of appeasement by Western countries to facilitate its destructive and illegal weapons programs. Over the past two years, however, the United States and some European countries have begun to reconsider these policies because it has become impossible to ignore the regime’s atrocities at home and abroad.

Violations of OPCW

The most recent example of the regime’s blatant disregard for the international community occurred a few days ago when the U.S, ambassador to the Netherlands Kenneth Ward accused the Iranian regime of failing to declare its weapons-related activities. This was in direct violation of Iran’s agreement with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Iran has been a signatory to the 193-member Chemical Weapons Convention since 1997. The anti-chemical weapons group is managed by the

OPCW.

Ambassador Ward made this allegation at the fourth annual meeting of the intergovernmental organization in The Hague. He said that he is concerned that Iran is developing “central nervous system–acting chemicals” for offensive military purposes.

Ambassador Ward cited three examples of the Iranian regime’s violations of the treaty. Iran failed to declare its capability to fill weapons with chemicals, it didn’t announce the transfer of chemical-filled shells to Libya in the 1980s, and it currently markets CR gas as a riot control agent at defense expos.

The Washington Post reported in 2011 that

chemical munitions uncovered in Libya in 2011 appeared to have originated in Iran.

Damage Control by the Regime

Regime officials scrambled to deny the accusations and shift the blame. Bahram Qasemi, Iranian spokesperson for the regime’s Foreign Ministry said in his denial, “The reason for such claims is animosity towards the Iranian people.”

Regime Foreign Minister Javad Zarif ominously tweeted that the accusation against the regime was “dangerous.”

Previous Attempts to Blame the MEK

The Iranian regime’s attempts to shift the blame in regard to their use of chemical weapons is not new. In the 1980s, the regime used chemical weapons during the Iran/Iraq War and claimed the MEK was responsible for the attacks.

The MEK released a statement in 2004 revealing that the regime planned to use lawyers to pin the blame for the atrocities it committed in Halabja during the Iran-Iraq war on the Iranian opposition.

The regime’s chemical attack on Kurdish dissidents in Halabja during the final days of the Iran/Iraq War was the largest chemical weapons attack against a civilian population in modern history, according to the Federation of American Scientists. At least three thousand people died during the poison gas attack.

The chemical attack was planned by the Iranian regime to kill off Kurdish dissidents during the chaos of the final days of the war, but the regime successfully used propaganda to convince the world that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attack. Later it became more convenient to accuse the MEK of carrying out the attack instead.

A year after the MEK warned that the regime planned to blame the MEK for the chemical attack, French lawyer of the former Iraqi head of state Emmanuel Ludot revealed that the Iranian regime’s ambassador to France, Sadeq Kharrazi,  had asked him to blame the gassing of the Kurdish dissidents on the MEK. In an interview with the Franco-English television network, ARTE, Ludot said, “The Iranian ambassador told me [to] say Iranians did not gas the Kurds … [that] this was the work of the MEK.”

Ludot gave another interview to Al Jazeera later that year, where he said: “I want to tell you a secret that may have dire consequences for me. The Iranian ambassador asked me personally to the embassy… the Ambassador told me to let’s make an agreement. We will say that Saddam didn’t attack the Kurds with [chemical] gas and you say that the Iranians didn’t attack the Kurds with gas. Then we will present a case that the PMOI has used these gases against the Kurds. Thus, the guilt will be on someone else and all of us will be safe. What do you think?”

The regime’s attempts to cover up its crimes have become more obvious to the international community. The world is becoming less willing to look the other way while the mullahs commit atrocities and pass the blame to its most convenient enemy. The Iranian regime poses a danger to the world.

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Ambassador Ken Blackwell Speaking at Nowrouz ceremony in Washington D.C

Former US Ambassador to the UN Calls for a UN Response to Iranian Human Rights Abuses and Terrorism

Ambassador Ken Blackwell Speaking at Nowrouz ceremony in Washington D.C

Former U.S, Ambassador to the U.N, Mr. Ken Blackwell speaking at a conference in support of the Iranian opposition (NCRI), on the occasion of the Iranian New Year in Washington D.C-March 2018

On November 20th, 2018, Townhall published a piece from Kenneth Blackwell, the former US ambassador to the UN. In his piece, Blackwell called for an international response to Iranian aggression.

Blackwell began his article by drawing attention to the UN General Assembly’s resolution on November 15th which denounced the Iranian regime for its systematic widespread human rights abuses. The resolution means that the General Assembly will vote on a censure next month.

The “summer of blood”

The Iranian regime’s human rights abuses have been well-documented. The mullahs and their Supreme Leader Khamenei launched a vicious campaign to eliminate the regime’s political opposition.

First on their list of political opponents was the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) and its members. This cumulated in the “summer of blood” of 1988. In just one summer, a period of fewer than five months, the regime and its death squad systematically executed more than 30,000 MEK members in regime custody.

Today, the regime continues to run roughshod over the human rights of the Iranian population. Politically motivated arrests are common- and the conditions many prisoners are subject to in prison, which include routine torture sessions and beatings from guards, has prompted many prisoners to go on hunger strike in protest.

Executions are also commonplace in Iran, including in cases where the alleged perpetrator committed their crime as a minor, under the age of 18. Between January and June 2018, the regime executed 176 executions. Among them were prisoners held on drug charges, politically motivated charges, and juvenile offenders.

Blackwell went on to condemn the regime’s harsh treatment of protestors. He cited the regime’s arrests of truck drivers, teachers, merchants, students and nurses as particularly concerning examples where citizens found themselves imprisoned for exercising their right to protest.

A Terrorist Machine

In addition to the regime’s campaign of repression and violent suppression at home, the Iranian regime has launched an international terror campaign. In 2018, the MEK reported that the regime leadership was involved in the planning and execution of terrorist plots in Albania, France, and the US.

Iranian Embassies: A Tumour in the Heart of Europe

The most severe of these attacks was the regime’s attempt to detonate a car bomb at the annual gathering of the MEK and its supporters in Paris. An Iranian diplomat named Assadollah Assadi provided a Belgian-Iranian couple with explosive material to attack the gathering, where delegations of high-profile politicians gathered from around the world, including former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani.

The Demonization Campaign

Blackwell also condemned the regime’s systematic and deliberate demonization campaign against the MEK. Blackwell writes, “in lockstep with its terrorist plots, the regime has also stepped up its demonization campaign and vilification campaigns”.

Twitter closed 770 regime-affiliated accounts in September for deliberately attempting to manipulate public opinion against the MEK abroad. Many of the accounts posed as foreign journalists or American citizens in an attempt to appear more legitimate, however, they spewed regime-created propaganda attacking the MEK with lies and falsehoods.

Blackwell continues, “data released by Twitter shows that anti-MEK tweets by the regime’s intelligence agents in 2018 jumped to a total that was six times higher than the previous six years combined.”

He also pointed at the regime of employing “pseudo-journalists”, like Arron Merat who recently wrote a hit piece on the MEK for the Guardian. These are regime-affiliated agents who work as journalists for foreign media outlets, spreading lies and misinformation to further the regime’s interests.

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

Despite the Regime’s Best Efforts, the MEK Grows Stronger

Despite these underhanded methods, Blackwell writes, “the movement’s [the Iranian opposition] organizational prowess is growing”. He describes the MEK’s resistance units of young men and women who coordinate protests across Iran and mobilize the Iranian population.

“Iran’s people are demanding democratic freedoms and an end to the extremism, corruption, and mismanagement that has devastated their living conditions”, Blackwell writes. “The international community cannot remain nonaligned. It is time to side with the Iranian people in their quest for democracy and a brighter future.”

Blackwell concludes by stating that the regime’s human rights abuses must be referred to the UN Security Council for urgent action because it “would be the clearest sign yet that the international community supports the Iranian people’s right to resist a tyrannical regime that systematically violates their human rights.”

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Arab news article on MEK and debunking the demonization campaigns aimed at discrediting the MEK

The Regime’s Strategy to Suppress the Uprising and Destroy the MEK

Arab news article on MEK and debunking the demonization campaigns aimed at discrediting the MEK

Article by Dr. Rafizadeh, responding to allegations against MEK, the principal opposition to the religious dictatorship in Iran

The Iranian people have been protesting against the oppressive regime since December of last year, and the widespread protests and strikes have grown and spread since then. The economic crisis in Iran, which has been exacerbated by the reinstatement of U.S. sanctions, has fueled the protest movement, led by the MEK.

A new article by Dr. Majid Rafizadeh describes the Iranian regime’s attempt to suppress this widespread uprising. Dr. Rafizadeh is president of the International American Council and an expert on Iranian and American foreign policy. His article explains the regime’s propaganda campaign against the MEK, as well as its attempts at terrorist attacks on the organization.

The Iranian regime is faltering under the weight of the Resistance and is in danger of being overthrown. The mullahs are willing to take extreme measures to suppress the ongoing rebellion by the people. Further, the regime sees the MEK as an existential threat and is willing to go to any lengths to destroy the organization. According to Dr. Rafizadeh, the regime has adopted a three-pronged approach to preserving its rule.

The first prong, according to Rafizadeh, is suppression at home. Iran Human Rights Monitor reported an increase in executions this month, which including a staggering 22 executions in two weeks. This strategy has backfired, and protesters have only become more willing to stand up against the repressive regime.

Rafizadeh’s article says that the second prong of the regime’s strategy to put down the uprising is to target the MEK overseas. Just this year, the regime has been implicated in three foiled terrorist attacks against the MEK.

Regime terrorists attempted to attack a MEK camp in Albania early this year. Regime diplomat Assadollah Assadi masterminded a foiled terrorist attack on an Iranian Resistance gathering in Paris in June and is now awaiting trial in Belgium. Two Iranian intelligence agents were arrested in the United States in August for spying on MEK members on behalf of the Iranian government. And recently, a regime spy associated with the regime’s ambassador to Norway attempted to infiltrate the MEK in Denmark in order to carry out an assassination. Three Iranian diplomats have been expelled from France and Norway over the past weeks.

To date, none of these attacks have been successful, leaving the regime with one final strategy. The third prong, according to Rafizadeh, is an old strategy that has been employed by the regime for the forty years of its reign: discredit the MEK through an organized campaign of misinformation and paint the only viable alternative to the mullahs as a terrorist cult.

Rafizadeh writes that regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei refers to the MEK as the “ foot soldiers” of the uprising and is desperate to find Western journalists and media outlets willing to spread negative information about the group. The Iranian regime has also set up false social media accounts and employed Iranian nationals to pose as journalists to spread misinformation about the MEK.

In August, Facebook detected and shut down 652 accounts operated by agents of the Iranian government.  Twitter followed suit, shutting down 770 accounts. The accounts were all found to have been used to spread propaganda and misinformation. Some of these pages specifically targeted the MEK. Smear articles about the MEK also began showing up in the U.S. and Europe around the same time. According to Rafizadeh, the articles were mostly written by  pseudo-journalists or people associated with the regime. “Former MEK members” with documented connections to the MOIS were often cited as sources.

Rafizadeh writes that the citizens of Iran are being denied a future and that a majority of the people of Iran have made a choice to rise up for change, despite the risks to their safety. He notes that half of the population of Iran is under the age of 30. Finally, he points to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) as the only viable democratic alternative to the mullahs’ regime.

Rafizadeh ends his article with a quote from Voltaire, which he uses as a warning to journalists who repeat the mullahs’ propaganda: “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”

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The Guardian gives voice to the notorious Ministry of Intelligence in Iran

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

The Guardian gives voice to the notorious Ministry of Intelligence in Iran

The Committee of Anglo-Iranian Lawyers (CAIL) issues a statement, condemning the Guardian, for publishing a hit piece on the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK)

The Committee of Anglo-Iranian Lawyers (CAIL) issued a statement today condemning the decision from the British newspaper, the Guardian, to publish a hit piece on the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK).

The legal organization called the regime’s campaign of vilification against the MEK “unprecedented” and denounced its decision to orchestrate terror plots, arrest MEK members inside Iran and use what CAIL calls, “friendly journalists” to spread malicious lies about the opposition group.

Relaying the Slanders of the Regime

The lawyers’ statement accused the Guardian of relaying “the slanders of the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS)”.

The MOIS has been actively attempting to discredit and demonize the MEK for the last four decades. Its most recent campaign saw the use of 770 regime-affiliated Twitter accounts posting anti-MEK material online under the guise of foreign citizens and journalists. Twitter has since closed the accounts and removed the material.

However, recent attempts have intensified. In 2018, the regime has increased its terror activities designed to target the MEK.

Foiled terror attacks in Albania and France narrowly averted bloodshed. Another likely plot was unravelled in the early stages in the US as two regime agents were detained for engaging in espionage against MEK members on American soil.

The Regime Sees MEK as an Existential Threat

Part of the intensification of attacks on the MEK’s credibility and physical threats to MEK members can be explained by the MEK’s surging popularity within Iran.

In Iran, CAIL says, “civil society is exploding, and the regime is exhausted and helpless”. Strikes rack the country weekly, spreading across key demographics, including teachers and logistics workers.

The MEK-organised protests are bringing Iran to its knees.

The mullahs are also finding themselves increasingly isolated on the international stage. Earlier this year, President Hassan Rouhani spoke to his French counterpart and urged him to crack down on MEK activities on French soil. French President Emmanuel Macron resolutely refused.

The demonization campaign and Arron Merat’s article in the Guardian are the regime’s way of legitimizing attacks on MEK members. “The task of a ‘friendly journalist’”, CAIL says, “is to give the impression that the PMOI [MEK] has no popular support in Iran, that it is undemocratic, and that there is no viable alternative in Iran, so it would be only wise for the international community to hold onto the current barbaric regime”.

The International Community Will Not Be Fooled

The situation the ‘friendly journalists’, like Arron Merat, describe could not be further from the truth. The Iranian people have supported the MEK for 53 years, with many joining its ranks and making generous donations of wealth to the cause.

The international community will not be fooled. Arron Merat is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Iranian regime. His close ties to the MOIS and the regime leadership has been well-documented in his previous articles and Tweets.

His piece is littered with factual inaccuracies designed to absolve the mullahs of their atrocities and vilify the Iranian opposition.

For example, Merat claims it was the MEK that accused the clerical regime of plotting the foiled terror attack at the MEK’s annual Grand Gathering this summer. He writes that “one day after the conference, the MEK accused Tehran of plotting a bomb attack against the event”.

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

In reality, the accusations made against Tehran came not one, but two days after the Grand Gathering event. It also was not the MEK that levied the accusations, but the Belgian General prosecutor and the Federal Police following the arrest of a Belgian-Iranian couple traveling to the event in a car laden with explosives.

In another example, Merat tells the story of Ms. Somayeh Mohammadi, a 38-year-old member of the MEK. The regime has often touted lies about Somayeh’s position in the MEK, asserting that she is being held at the group’s compound in Albania against her will.

Merat interviewed Somayeh’s parents, who serve the regime’s interests and disseminate the same lies. In reality, Somayeh has been a voluntary member of the MEK for many years. She even wrote a book entitled, “An End to a Conspiracy” in which she describes how she is not being held against her will and expresses her sadness at seeing the regime use her parents in their campaign to demonize the Iranian opposition.

Merat’s article is littered with many more factual inaccuracies, mistruths, and outright lies.

CAIL’s statement concludes with a defiant and determined challenge to the regime. “We are ready to prove this in any court of law”, adding, “not even a single one of these lies is new to us Iranians”.

The MEK and their allies are well-versed in the lies of the regime. It has the necessary evidence to debunk these allegations and is will relish the chance to expose these lies to the world.

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Dr. Vidal Quadras writes to the Guardian objecting its article in bashing the MEK, Iran's main opposition

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

Dr. Vidal Quadras writes to the Guardian objecting its article in bashing the MEK, Iran's main opposition

Dr. Alejo Vidal-Quadras, the former Vice President of the European Parliament, writes an open letter condemning the recent demonization campaign by the Guardian on behalf of the Iranian dictatorship.

In an open letter titled “If You Know the Truth and Call It a Lie, You Are a Criminal”, The former Vice President of the European Parliament, Dr. Alejo Vidal Quadras strongly condemned the Guardian’s long article penned to demonize the MEK, Iran’s main democratic opposition.

New ISJ report: “Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence Active in Europe”

The Guardian’s publication of its recent piece designed to attack the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) represents a threat to Europe’s free press. The three-page article by Arron Merat entitled, “Terrorists, cultists- or champions of Iranian democracy? The wild story of the MEK” pedaled unfounded lies about the Iranian opposition group and its members.

“Tell a lie that’s big enough, and repeat it often enough, and the whole world will believe it”

These words were once uttered by Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. Hitler’s propaganda machine disseminated vile lies, aimed at attacking Jews and legitimizing the Nazi attacks on the Jewish population of Europe.

As the regime intensifies its attack on the MEK the main Iranian resistance groups, both inside Iran and abroad through elaborate terrorist plots, it is using Arron Merat and the European media in the same way.

Its planned attacks against the Iranian opposition in Denmark, France, and Albania were all thwarted by European authorities in the final stages. The Iranian regime is now dealing with the political fallout of this, including a jailed diplomat, the expulsion of three diplomats in France, and frozen assets.

The regime needs to vilify the MEK to stay in power

On top of legitimizing the regime’s terror plots, demonizing the political opposition also helps shore up the regime’s power at home.

The MEK’s popularity in Iran is surging. Its role in the nationwide protests in December and January spread across every major town and city and recent truck driver protests, merchant protests, and teachers strikes have crippled Iranian society.

In an effort to curb the rising call for regime change, the regime has sought new ways to undermine its largest political opponent; the MEK.

Twitter recently closed 770 regime-affiliated accounts in September. The regime used the accounts to publish to demonize the MEK, publishing more than a 1.1 million Tweets between 2012 and 2016.

The Guardian was less eager to take action against the regime’s deliberate spread of misinformation. It published Merat’s article despite its editor receiving two letters from the MEK’s Press Spokesman expressing its concerns with Merat’s biased reporting.

The letters outlined Merat’s close ties to the Iranian regime and members of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS).

In the piece itself, Merat exposed his lack of impartiality in the glaring lies he spouts. For example, he claims that the MEK accused Tehran of plotting a bomb attack at its Grand Gathering event in Paris the day after the conference.

In reality, it was the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office and Police that first reported the foiled bomb attack two days after the event when it disclosed the arrest of a Belgium-Iranian couple who had been travelling to the event in a car laden with explosives.

A Full Rebuttal

If the Guardian wishes to absolve itself of grossly unprofessional journalism and aiding and abetting the Iranian regime and its campaign of violence and terror against the MEK, the newspaper should publish the MEK’s rebuttal of Merat’s piece.

Former Vice-President of the European Parliament, Alejo Vidal-Quadras also questioned the Guardian’s journalistic integrity. He said, “the Guardian has stabbed the free press in the back with its helping hand to the religious fascism which 80 million Iranians are determined to overthrow”.

He added, “this is as shameful as a British paper acting as a mouthpiece of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s and 1940s”. The Guardian has the chance to redeem itself by letting the MEK share its rebuttal. It would be well-advised to grab the opportunity with both hands, lest it finds itself on the wrong side of history.

Staff Writer

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The Guardian news paper used by the Iranian regime to demonize its main democratic opposition

The Guardian Spreads the Iranian Regime’s Propaganda

The Guardian news paper used by the Iranian regime to demonize its main democratic opposition

The Iranian Communities and supporters of the MEK, express outrage over the demonization campaign by the Guardian in-favor of Iran’s dictatorship

Following the Guardian’s publication of Aaron Merat’s article attacking the main Iranian opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), the Iranian resistance and its allies lined up to condemn the piece.

The British newspaper published the 3-page piece on Friday, November 9th. It targeted the MEK and its allies and spouted the regime’s lies and falsehoods to demonize Iran’s political opposition.

Aaron Merat is far from an impartial journalist. He has close ties to the Iranian regime and has an extensive history of publishing articles sympathetic to the Islamic Republic and attacking its political opponents.

The Backlash

Struan Stevenson, the Coordinator of Campaign for Iran Change and former member of the European Parliament (MEP), wrote an open letter to the Guardian expressing his concerns over the article’s publication. He challenged the assertions in Merat’s article and said they had been “lifted directly from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS).

Stevenson’s letter questioned Merat’s ability to perform objective journalism on the subject. “He lacks the minimum journalistic standards regarding the issue of the Iranian regime and its opposition. His interviews and opinions during the run-up to the “presidential election” of the clerical regime, as well as his articles and tweets against the PMOI [MEK] are available and well-publicized”, he wrote.

He also called the article’s allegations, “so wide of the mark that it brings to mind Voltaire’s statement: ‘those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities’”.

Regime Ties

Merat’s ties to the Iranian regime were evident in the manner in which he carried out research for his article. Merat visited the MEK’s residence in Albania in August. Two MOIS agents reported extensively on the visit, indicating that they had received a copy of Merat’s notes.

On the day Merat’s article was published on the Guardian site, the article was also translated within hours and posted across regime-controlled websites. This also indicates that Merat had provided the MOIS with a copy of his article prior to publication.

A Climate of Fear

The article, for all of its lies and falsehoods, does offer a glimpse into one aspect of Iran’s political climate. It demonstrates the mullahs’ fear of the MEK and its need to vilify and demonise the group internationally.

The MEK played a major role in the organisation and execution of the nationwide protests in December and January, a role that was acknowledged by the regime’s Supreme Leader.

https://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/iran-resistance/25492-the-guardian-demonises-iran-s-democratic-opposition-to-the-benefit-of-the-ruling-regime

The MEK also enjoys extensive support across Europe and the United States. Its annual Grand Gathering event draws crowds of more than 100,000 people, including former politicians from France, the UK, the US, Germany, and Canada.

In an attempt to curb the rise of the MEK the mullahs have spent millions on demonization campaigns across the Middle East region and beyond. It has also orchestrated several terror plots against the MEK and its members. A recent plot to attack the MEK’s Grand Gathering event with a car laden with explosives was foiled in the final stages by European law enforcement.

With the introduction of the latest round of sanction, the Iranian regime is in a panic. The Guardian article can be seen as a knee-jerk response to rising inflation, increasing public unrest, and the rising clamour for regime change inside Iran.

Iran Human Rights Monitor has documented an increase in executions and human rights abuses within Iran as the mullahs attempt to get a grip on the situation.

Aiding and Abetting the Iranian Terror Machine

In publishing an article like Aaron Merat’s on Friday, the Guardian is aiding and abetting the Iranian terror network by legitimizing its attacks on the MEK. It also discredits itself as a bastion of free and independent journalism.

The mullahs use of the international press to attack its opponents will not save them. The regime’s days are numbered. Strikes are spreading across the country as a result of the repressive and inhumane policies of the ruling elite, while the regime is engulfed by deadly crises, Iran’s key sectors are crippled, and the national economy is only set to further decline.

The Iranian people are ready for change. No amount of regime propaganda in the international media can change their minds.

Staff Writer

 

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