The U.S. is changing its position on Iran in reaction to a number of provocative actions taken by Iran, including a new test launch of a ballistic missile and talk of testing their new powerful centrifuges, considered eight times more productive than their older centrifuges.
As a result, there has been a growing call for a change in Iranian policy and a new approach toward the MEK. The U.S. has responded to Iran’s actions by announcing that Iran is officially on notice, tweets from President Trump and a new round of sanctions. Many individuals within the international community hope that this is the beginning of a change in policy from the U.S.
The Iranian Resistance and its components, including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK/PMOI), see imposing sanctions against a number of individuals and companies that are involved in Iran’s missile proliferation as a positive step. They have consistently reported Iran’s inability to follow through on promises made to the international community and their human rights violations, which include 120,000 political executions.
Yet, without comprehensive sanctions focused on the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), its affiliated entities, the Ministry of Intelligence and the other entities involved in suppressing the Iranian people and exporting terrorism, the regime will remain a source of war and instability in the Middle East and a pillar of support for ISIS. But sanctions are not enough. The IRGC must also be expelled from the countries in region where they have fostered political instability, including Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Iran is going on the offensive in view of a potential shift in U.S. policy. They have seen the years of appeasement from the U.S. as a “golden era” and hope to frame a change in U.S. policy and any suggestion of a firm hand with Iran as “war-mongering”. These false labels are being used to intimidate those calling for a change of policy to side with the Iranian people.
At the same time, Iran has begun a massive campaign to discredit the democratic opposition, the MEK and the coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Fake news about these organizations is originating from the Ministry of Intelligence for the regime, along with the intelligence section of the IRGC. By doing so, the Iranian regime hopes to make the international community believe there is no viable option to the ruling religious dictatorship of Iran.
On January 9, 2017, some 23 U.S. prominent dignitaries urged the new Trump Administration “to adopt and pursue an Iran policy that recognizes the interests and inalienable rights of the Iranian people, and not just the clerical regime ruling over them.” The signatories stressed that the regime’s aggressive policy is part of their efforts on “preserving the vulnerable system of dictatorship.” They also called for opening lines of communication with the MEK and the NCRI.
“We now know that these designations of the resistance as a terrorist group by Western governments were not made in response to confirmed terrorism; all were diplomatic gestures taken at the request of Tehran. Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security has for many years impaired the exiled opposition by covertly spreading false and distorted claims through third parties in the West. Other governments like Germany and the Netherlands closely monitor Iran’s influence operations on their soil; a thorough counter-intelligence investigation by the U.S. is clearly needed and long overdue,” said the signatories of the letter.
They concluded by recommending that the U.S. exert its leverage to oppose Tehran’s oppressive regime, while “standing for the fundamental values both our people share.”
Within Iran, the regime is struggling to maintain control, as members of the MEK network have expanded the call for bringing justice to those responsible for mass executions, particularly those in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners. This massacre occurred after Khomeini’s decree to execute all affiliates of the MEK who refused to renounce the organization.
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (also known as the MEK) 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 created by Medhi Bazargan in May 1961.
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 they are the only ones that can interpret Islam. The MEK reject this view and the cleric’s reactionary vision of Islam. MEK’s founders and new members studied the various schools of thought, the Iranian history and those of other countries, enabling them to analyze the other philosophies and ideologies with considerable knowledge and to present their own ideology, based on Islam, as an answer to Iran’s problems.
MEK’s Leadership Arrested
During the early 1970s, the Shah’s secret police arrested all MEK leaders and most of its members. In May 1972, the founders of the MEK, along with two members of the leadership, were put to death by firing squad after months of torture. The death sentence of Massoud Rajavi, a member of the MEK’s central committee, was commuted to life imprisonment due to an international campaign by his Geneva-based brother, Dr. Kazem Rajavi (who was later assassinated in April 1990), along with intervention of the French President Georges Pompidou and Francois Mitterrand. Today, he is the only surviving member of the original MEK leadership.
During his imprisonment from 1975 to 1979, Massoud Rajavi stressed the need to continue to 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. These positions remained the MEK’s manifesto until the overthrow of the shah’s regime.
Political Prisoners Released
When the shah was forced to flee Iran, the democratic opposition leaders had been either executed or imprisoned and could exert little influence on events. Using this political vacuum, Khomeini and his network of mullahs were able to hijack a revolution that began with calls for democracy and freedom and diverted it towards his fundamentalist goals. Thus, an exceptional chain of events allowed the mullahs to assume power in Iran.
Khomeini Cracks Down on the MEK
While the MEK argued that Khomeini represented the reactionary sector of society and preached religious fascism, Rafsanjani and other mullahs began to consolidate power by attacking the MEK, which was the largest organized political party in Iran. Khomeini set up an Assembly of Experts comprised of sixty of his closest mullahs and loyalist to ratify the principle of absolute supremacy of clerical rule as a pillar of the Constitution.
The MEK launched a nationwide campaign against this move and refused to approve the new constitution. After they refused to support the Constitution with this pillar in it, the MEK was blocked from being able to participate in the political process within Iran.
Khomeini also ordered a crackdown on the MEK and its supporters. Between 1979 and 1981, some 70 MEK members and sympathizers were killed and several thousand were imprisoned.
In June 1981, during a peaceful demonstration to protest the crackdown, Khomeini ordered the Revolutionary Guards to open fire on the crowd, fearing that without the repression of the MEK that he might be forced to engage in serious reforms.
Since that time, lran has actively targeted members of the MEK as victims of human rights violations. Over 120,000 of its members and supporters have been executed by the Iranian regime, including the 30,000 in 1988 by direct fatwa from Khomeini.
By the end of 1981, many of the members and supporters of the MEK went into exile, with their principal refuge being France. But after negotiations with the French government, the Iranian authorities were able to have them treated as undesirable aliens. Thus, the MEK relocated to Iraq.
Today, the MEK is the oldest and largest anti-fundamentalist Muslim group in the Middle East. The MEK supports:
- Universal suffrage as the sole criteria 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 the political leadership. The MEK is currently led by its central committee, which consists of 1,000 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
MEK remains the leading voice for democracy in Iran, supported by its interpretation of Islam that discredits the fundamentalist mullahs’ regime.