February 24, 2017
INU – A professor of political science in Tehran University, Sadeq Zibakalam, who is also a close confidant of Ali Akbar Hashem Rafsanjani, former head of Iran’s Expediency Council, stated that Iran, similar to those who murdered Imam Hossein (the grandson of Prophet Mohammad), has murdered thousands of members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in the course of 10 years following the 1979 revolution, most of them during the summer of 1988 in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. This was reported by al-Quds al-Arabi daily on February 11th, 2017, in an article written by Mohamed al-Mazhaji.
“Guya News” website also published excerpts of Zibakalam’s remarks on the sideline of Iran’s annual “Fajr” film festival in Tehran marking the 1979 revolution anniversary.
Iran has murdered thousands of opposition MEK members during the years after the 1979 revolution, without any judicial process or proving any crime, Zibakalam reiterated, referring to events of the summer 1988, and issues raised in the sound file of a meeting between the Islamic republic’s “Death Committee” with Hossein Ali Montazeri, the former successor of the Islamic republic’s founder.
Zibakalam also strongly criticized the movie produced with the support of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), “Majaraye Nimrooz” (Midday Adventures), which was previewed at the Fajr film festival. He said that the film does not replicate the truth about what took place between the IRGC and MEK during that period.
“We accuse the MEK of conducting a series of assassinations back in the 1980s. Did MEK members carry out these measures for no reason at all?” this Rafsanjani confidant asked.
This film retells the events from the Iranian regime’s point of view, depicting an image of the IRGC as kind individuals defending truth and humanity, and not the truth, he added. Instead, we killed thousands of MEK members in Evin Prison without due process, Zibakalam continued, and added that the country was witnessing a civil war at that period of Iran’s revolution, between the IRGC and the MEK, costing the lives of thousands of people.
The MEK is one of the main organizations that, beginning in 1965 played a pivotal role in the 1979 revolution, through armed resistance and popular movements against Iran’s monarchial regime. In fact, MEK leader Massoud Rajavi was the leading candidate in the presidential elections after the revolution, and the MEK played an important role from 1979 to 1983 inside Iran.
Then, due to the conflict between the state and revolutionary forces, Khomeini, founder of the Islamic republic, prevented many MEK members from holding any possible official jobs in governmental administration, and deprived its members from political activities.
Montazeri’s sound file, released by his son, Ahmad Montazeri, made significant revelations, especially since “Death Committee” members explained the reason for condemning and executing thousands of MEK prisoners in 1988. In response, Montazeri had said not according to sharia, morals or humanitarian principles is it permitted to kill an individual who has been condemned once in court for maintaining their position, because they have not committed a new crime and they were already in prison. The “Death Committee” members emphasized to Montazeri they had to be executed because they approved the MEK.
The “Death Committee” members are still active in high positions in the regime:
Mostafa Pour Mohammadi is one of the most important members of Iran’s
“Death Committee” and he currently is the head of the Ministry of Justice in Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet.
Ibrahim Reisi is now the Supreme Leader’s representative and head of the organization managing the Imam Reza shrine in the city of Mashhad, northeast Iran.
Hossien Ali Nayeri is now deputy head of Iran’s highest court.
Reports by the United Nations confirm the execution of at least 3,600 MEK prisoners in Tehran’s prisons. Other security reports, obtained in 1998, indicate the “Death Committee” executed over 30,410 MEK members across Iran in the summer of 1988. This is in addition to the execution of 3,500 prisoners of leftist parties who were behind bars since the first years of the 1979 revolution.
Ahmad Khatami, a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts Board of Directors and the Qom Religious School and a Friday prayer leader in Tehran, in response to the “Death Committee” sound file, stipulated for the first time that the execution of MEK prisoners in 1988 was carried out on charges of “moharebe against God and his Messenger” (enmity against God and his Prophet) and according to an order issued by Khomeini. He added that this measure was in line with implementing orders of the Quran, Islamic jurisprudence and a revolutionary measure that has served in the better interest of Islam and Iranian people.
Pour Mohammadi admitted to the accuracy of the issues raised in the sound file and added, “I am proud of implementing Khomeini’s orders against MEK members.” He stated further, that God’s order against them has been carried out.
The Qom Islamic revolution court sentenced Ahmad Montazeri to 21 years behind bars and stripped him of his clerical authority for publishing the sound file.
More about the People’s Mojahdin Organization of Iran (PMOI/ MEK)
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (Also known as MEK, or Mujahedin-e-Khalq / Mujahedeen-e-Khalq), was founded on September 6, 1965, by Mohammad Hanifnejad, Saeed Mohsen, and Ali-Asghar Badizadgan. All engineers, they had earlier been members of the Freedom Movement (also known as the Liberation Movement), created by Medhi Bazargan in May 1961.1
The MEK’s quest culminated in a true interpretation of Islam, which is inherently tolerant and democratic, and fully compatible with the values of modern-day civilization. It took six years for the MEK to formulate its view of Islam and develop a strategy to replace Iran’s dictatorial monarchy with a democratic government.
MEK’s interpretation of Islam
The theocratic mullah regime in Iran believe interpreting Islam is their exclusive domain. The MEK reject this view and the cleric’s reactionary vision of Islam. The MEK’s comprehensive interpretation of Islam proved to be more persuasive and appealing to the Iranian youth.
MEK’s founders and new members studied the various schools of thought, the Iranian history and those of other countries, enabling them to analyze other philosophies and ideologies with considerable knowledge and to present their own ideology, based on Islam, as the answer to Iran’s problems.
MEK’s leadership’s arrest during the 70s.
The Shah’s notorious secret police, SAVAK, arrested all MEK leaders and most of its member’s in1971. On May 1972, the founders of the MEK, Mohammad Hanifnejad , Saeed Mohsen and Ali Asghar Badizadegan, along with two members of the MEK leadership, Mahmoud Askarizadeh and Rasoul Meshkinfam, were put before death squads and were executed after long months of imprisonment and torture. They were the true vanguards, who stood against the dictatorial regime of Shah. However, they are also recognized for their opposition to what is today known as Islamic fundamentalism.
The death sentence of Massoud Rajavi, a member of MEK’s central committee, was commuted to life imprisonment as a result of an international campaign by his Geneva based brother, Dr. Kazem Rajavi (assassinated in April 1990 in Geneva by mullahs’ agents) and the personal intervention of the French President Georges Pompidou and Francois Mitterrand. He was the only survivor of the MEK original leadership.
Massoud Rajavi’s critical role in characterizing religious extremism
From 1975 to 1979, while incarcerated in different prisons, Massoud Rajavi led the MEK’s struggle while constantly under torture for his leading position.
Massoud Rajavi stressed the need to continue the struggle against the shah’s dictatorship. At the same time, he characterized religious fanaticism as the primary internal threat to the popular opposition, and warned against the emergence and growth of religious fanaticism and autocracy. He also played a crucial role when some splinter used the vacuum in the MEK leadership who were all executed or imprisoned at the time, to claim a change of ideology and policy. Massoud Rajavi as the MEK leader condemn these individual’s misuse of MEK’s name while continuing to stress the struggle against dictatorship. His efforts while still in prison forced these individuals to no longer operating under the name of MEK and adopting a different name for their group. These positions remained the MEK’s manifesto until the overthrow of the shah’s regime.
Release of Political Prisoners on the last days of the Shah
A month before the 1979 revolution in Iran, the Shah was forced to flee Iran, never to return. All democratic opposition leaders had by then either been executed by the Shah’s SAVAK or imprisoned, and could exert little influence on the trend of events. Khomeini and his network of mullahs across the country, who had by and large been spared the wrath of SAVAK, were the only force that remained unharmed and could take advantage of the political vacuum. In France, Khomeini received maximum exposure to the world media. With the aid of his clerical followers, he hijacked a revolution that began with calls for democracy and freedom and diverted it towards his fundamentalist goals. Through an exceptional combination of historical events, Shiite clerics assumed power in Iran.
Khomeini’s gradual crackdown on MEK in fear of their popular support
In internal discourses, Rajavi the remaining leader of the MEK, argued that Khomeini represented the reactionary sector of society and preached religious fascism. Later, in the early days after the 1979 revolution, the mullahs, specifically Rafsanjani, pointed to these statements in inciting the hezbollahi club-wielders to attack the MEK.
Following the revolution, the MEK became Iran’s largest organized political party. It had hundreds of thousands of members who operated from MEK offices all over the country. MEK publication, ‘Mojahed’ was circulated in 500,000 copies.
Khomeini set up an Assembly of Experts comprised of sixty of his closest mullahs and loyalists to ratify the principle of velayat-e faqih (absolute supremacy of clerical rule) as a pillar of the Constitution. The MEK launched a nationwide campaign in opposition to this move, which enjoyed enormous popular support. Subsequently, the MEK refused to approve the new constitution based on the concept of velayat-e faqih, while stressing its observance of the law of the country to deny the mullahs any excuse for further suppression of MEK supporters who were regularly targeted by the regime’s official and unofficial thugs.
Khomeini sanctioned the occupation of the United States embassy in 1979 in order to create an anti-American frenzy, which facilitated the holding of a referendum to approve his Constitution, which the MEK rejected.
MEK’s endeavors to participate in the political process avoiding an unwanted conflict with government repressive forces
The MEK actively participated in the political process, fielding candidates for the parliamentary and presidential elections. The MEK also entered avidly into the national debate on the structure of the new Islamic regime, though was unsuccessful in seeking an elected constituent assembly to draft a constitution.
The MEK similarly made an attempt at political participation when [then] Massoud Rajavi ran for the presidency in January 1980. MEK’s leader was forced to withdraw when Khomeini ruled that only candidates who had supported the constitution in the December referendum – which the MEK had boycotted- were eligible. Rajavi’s withdrawal statement emphasized the MEK’s efforts to conform to election regulations and reiterated the MEK’s intention to advance its political aims within the new legal system”. (Unclassified report on the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran(PMOI/ MEK) by the Department of State to the United States House of Representatives, December 1984.)
However, the MEK soon found itself in a direct struggle against the forces of the regime’s Supreme leader. The MEK’s differences with Khomeini dated back to the 1970s, and stem from its opposition to what is known today as Islamic extremism. Angry at the position taken by the MEK against his regime and worried about the MEK’s growing popularity, Khomeini ordered a brutal crackdown against the MEK and its supporters. Between 1979 and 1981, some 70 MEK members and sympathizers were killed and several thousand more were imprisoned by the Iranian regime.
June 20, 1981- Khomeini’s order to open fire on peaceful demonstration of half-a-million supporters of MEK
The turning point came on 20th June 1981, when the MEK called a demonstration to protest at the regime’s crackdown, and to call for political freedom which half-a-million supporters participated at. Khomeini ordered the Revolutionary Guards to open fire on the swelling crowd, fearing that without absolute repression the democratic opposition (MEK) would force him to engage in serious reforms – an anathema as far as he was concerned; he ordered the mass and summary executions of those arrested.
Since then, MEK activists have been the prime victims of human rights violations in Iran. Over 120,000 of its members and supporters have been executed by the Iranian regime, 30,000 of which, were executed in a few months in the summer of 1988, on a direct fatwa by Khomeini, which stated any prisoners who remain loyal to the MEK must be executed.
Having been denied its fundamental rights and having come under extensive attack at the time that millions of its members, supporters and sympathizers had no protection against the brutal onslaught of the Iranian regime, the MEK had no choice but to resist against the mullahs’ reign of terror.
“Towards the end of 1981, many of the members of the MEK and supporters went into exile. Their principal refuge was in France. But in 1986, after negotiations between the French and the Iranian authorities, the French government effectively treated them as undesirable aliens, and the leadership of the MEK with several thousand followers relocated to Iraq.” (Judgment of the Proscribed Organizations Appeal Commission, November 30, 2007.)
The MEK today is the oldest and largest anti-fundamentalist Muslim group in the Middle East. It has been active for more than a half century, battling two dictatorships and a wide range of issues. The MEK supports:
- Universal suffrage as the sole criterion for legitimacy
- Pluralistic system of governance
- Respect for individual freedoms
- Ban on the death penalty
- Separation of religion and state
- Full gender equality
- Equal participation of women in political leadership. MEK is actually led by its central committee consist of 1000 women.
- Modern judicial system that emphasizes the principle of innocence, a right to a defense, and due process
- Free markets
- Relations with all countries in the world
- Commitment to a non-nuclear Iran
The MEK remains a strong and cohesive organization, with a broad reach both worldwide and deep within Iran. MEK is the leading voice for democracy in Iran, supported by its interpretation of Islam that discredits the fundamentalist mullahs’ regime.