Archive for the ‘Iran – political prisoners’ category

Can Trump Lead the Way to Regime Change in Iran?

July 19, 2017

Can Trump Lead the Way to Regime Change in Iran? Gatestone InstituteHassan Mahmoudi, July 19, 2017

(Vocal support for regime change would be good. Declaring that Iran has violated the JCOPA, now that Iran has received all of the financial benefits from America that it will get, would be merely a symbolic gesture. — DM)

What is needed now is a push for regime change, a watering of the seeds of popular resistance that are again budding — after Obama abandoned the Iranian people in 2009, when they took to the streets to protest the stranglehold of the ayatollahs.

American leadership expert John C. Maxwell defines a leader as “one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” During his two terms in the highest office in the world, former U.S. President Barack Obama failed at all three, with disastrous consequences.

There is no realm in which Obama’s lack of leadership was more glaring than that of foreign policy, particularly in relation to the Middle East. His combination of action and inaction — pushing through the nuclear deal with Iran at all costs, while simultaneously adopting a stance of “patience” with and indifference to Tehran’s sponsorship of global terrorism and foothold in Syria — served no purpose other than to destabilize the region and weaken America’s position.

While hotly pursuing the nuclear accord — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and U.S.-led world powers in July 2015 — Obama enabled the regime in Tehran to assist Syrian President Bashar Assad in starving and slaughtering his people (with chemical weapons, among others) into submission. Meanwhile, thanks to Obama’s passivity, and the $1.7 billion his administration transferred to Tehran upon the inking of the JCPOA, the Islamic Republic was able to dispatch its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to recruit and train Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon and Syria, as well as militias in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan.

Today, two years after the signing of the JCPOA, and six months into the presidency of Donald Trump, there is a growing rift between America and Europe over implementation of the deal, which officially went into effect in January 2016. Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has been wavering on whether to remain committed to the deal, which his administration and members of Congress claim has been violated repeatedly by Iran. The U.S. also has maintained certain sanctions, over Iran’s ballistic-missile tests, human-rights abuses and sponsorship of global terrorism.

European countries, however, have taken a very different approach, pointing to International Atomic Energy Organization reports confirming Iran’s compliance, and rushing to do business in and with Tehran.

At a ceremony on July 14, 2017 to mark the anniversary of the deal, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called the JCPOA a “success for multilateral diplomacy that has proven to work and deliver,” adding, “This deal belongs to the international community, having been endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, that expects all sides to keep the commitments they took two years ago”

Meanwhile, when reports emerged about Trump being “likely” to confirm on July 17 that Iran has been complying with the deal — and because the law requires that both the president and secretary of state re-certify the deal every three months — four Republican senators sent a letterto Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, with a copy to Trump, urging him not to do so.

The letter reads, in part:

“…In April, you certified Iran’s compliance for the first 90-day period of the Trump administration. That certification was understandable, given the need to grant time for the interagency review of the JCPOA that you described in the certification letter you sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“But now … U.S. interests would be best served by a sober accounting of Iran’s JCPOA violations … of regional aggression, sponsor international terrorism, develop ballistic missile technology, and oppress the Iranian people. Iran’s aggression directly targets the United States…a continuation of current policy would be tantamount to rewarding Iran’s belligerence… German intelligence agencies in 2015 and 2016 reported that Iran continued illicit attempts to procure nuclear and missile technology outside of JCPOA-approved channels.

“… Perhaps most concerning is Iran’s refusal to grant international inspectors access to nuclear-research and military facilities. International Atomic Energy Agency (“IAEA”) inspectors are entitled to visit any location in Iran to verify compliance with the JCPOA’s ban on nuclear weapons development. However, Iran’s refusal to grant inspectors physical access and other forms of access makes it possible-if not highly probable, given Iran’s history of duplicity-that it is concealing additional violations of the JCPOA.

“…it is highly questionable whether the United States can under current arrangements ever gain high confidence that Iran’s nuclear-weapons development has indeed ceased. …”

The senators are correct. Iran never had, nor has to this day, any intention of forfeiting its bid for regional and global hegemony.

Nevertheless, Trump decided, after all, to re-certify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA. Ahead of his doing so, however, the administration issued a series of reassurances — in the form of talking points — that the Treasury Department would impose sanctions on Iranian government entities and individuals, to punish the regime for its nefarious activities. According to BuzzFeed, these include ballistic-missile development, support for terrorism and the Assad regime, cyber-attacks against U.S. targets, the unjust arrest and imprisonment of American citizens and others.

A few months into the current administration in Washington, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps strategist Hassan Abbasi boasted that Iran would lead “global guerilla organizations” against American military and vulnerable targets:

“If only 11 people carried out 9/11, do you realize that the possibility exists for us to do what we want? We don’t need nuclear weapons. … It won’t even be an Iranian-only guerrilla movement, but from all Islamic countries. You can deport all the Muslims, but we are involving and working on Mexicans as well, and Argentinians too. We will organize anyone who has problems with the United States.”

It was Obama’s refusal to recognize, let alone acknowledge, this Iranian ambition that led to his utter appeasement of Tehran and subsequent signing of the JCPOA. It is up to Trump to do more than merely keep the nuclear accord at bay by leaving certain sanctions in place — or even canceling it.

Hassan Abbasi, a strategist for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, recently boasted that Iran would lead “global guerilla organizations” against American targets: “If only 11 people carried out 9/11, do you realize that the possibility exists for us to do what we want? We don’t need nuclear weapons…” (Tasnim News Agency/Wikimedia Commons)

What is needed now is a push for regime change, a watering of the seeds of popular resistance that are again budding — after Obama abandoned the Iranian people in 2009, when they took to the streets to protest the stranglehold of the ayatollahs.

At the annual “Free Iran” rally, held in Paris on July 1, 2017, an estimated 100,000 Iranian dissidents and hundreds of politicians and other world dignitaries gathered to call for a renewed effort to topple the regime in Tehran. Members of the U.S. delegation to the event — among them former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman and former U.S. Army Chief of Staff and Commander of the Multi-National Forces in Iraq General George Casey — issued a joint statement saying, in part:

“We believe that change is within reach, not only because the regime is becoming engulfed in crisis, but also because there is a large and growing movement organizing for positive change. A viable organization capable of ending the nightmare of religious dictatorship by establishing freedom and democracy, tolerance, and gender equality has steadily gained visibility, popular support and international recognition.”

Let us hope that Trump takes heed and turns out to be the leader who “knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate, specializing in political and economic issues relating to Iran and the Middle East. @hassan_mahmou1

World’s Rallying Cry: “Free Iran”

July 4, 2017

World’s Rallying Cry: “Free Iran”, Gatestone InstituteMajid Rafizadeh, July 4, 2017

(When will Iran have her own Independence Day? — DM)

“The ruling regime is in disarray and paralyzed as never before. Iranian society is simmering with discontent and the international community is finally getting closer to the reality that appeasing the ruling theocracy is misguided…. Our people want a constitution based on freedom, democracy, and equality…. The sun of change is shining on Iran.”

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“[W]e have a president of the United States who is completely and totally opposed to the regime in Tehran… he completely opposes the Iran nuclear deal signed by his predecessor.” — Ambassador John R. Bolton.

“The fact is that the Tehran regime is the central problem in the Middle East. There’s no fundamental difference between the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Rouhani — they’re two sides of the same coin. I remember when Rouhani was the regime’s chief nuclear negotiator — you couldn’t trust him then; you can’t trust him today. And it’s clear that the regime’s behavior is only getting worse… the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran.” — Ambassador John R. Bolton.

Any fundamental change in Iran’s theocratic establishment will reverberate across the region. Many terrorist groups will lose their major financial and weapons support. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad will lose his hold on power, which he has wielded for far too long. Iran’s major player, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which constantly damages the US and its allies’ national interests and incites anti-Semitism, will disappear; Hezbollah will lose its funding; “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” will fade away.

Tens of thousands of people came together in Paris on July 1 from all different corners of the world, to unite against the unspeakable atrocities committed by the Islamist state of Iran. It was the largest gathering of Iranians abroad of its kind.

The conference, organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), was spurred by the desire to speak up for human rights, peace, women’s rights, freedom, democracy, and to demand victory over terrorism. Its focus was to generate awareness of the plight of Iran’s innocent and vulnerable citizens, against whom the Iranian government has been wreaking havoc — with no consequences — for decades.

Leaders, journalists, prominent figures from around the world, and scholars joined the rallying cry of “Free Iran”. The array of speakers included several prominent Americans, including former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge; former FBI Director Louis Freeh, and Congressmen Ted Poe, Robert Pittenger and Tom Garret.

(Image source: Maryam Rajavi video screenshot)

During the eight years of Obama’s appeasement policies towards the Islamist regime of Iran, the mullahs became significantly empowered and emboldened. Iran’s opposition hopes that the appeasement of the theocratic regime in Tehran has come to an end. Ambassador Bolton pointed out:

“[W]e come at a time of really extraordinary events in the United States that the distinguish today from the circumstances one year ago. Contrary to what virtually every political commentator said, contrary to what almost every public opinion poll said, contrary to what many people said around the world, Barack Obama’s first Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not the president of the United States.

“So for the first time in at least eight years that I’ve been coming to this event, I can say that we have a president of the United States who is completely and totally opposed to the regime in Tehran… he completely opposes the Iran nuclear deal signed by his predecessor.”

The Iranian regime is still the world leading funder of international terrorism, including the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996, the bombings of a U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon in 1983, attacks on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

It does not matter who the regime’s president is; the core imperialist foreign policy of the Iranian regime is the same as it has been for almost four decades. With the passage of time, particularly since the nuclear agreement gave them an even stronger sense of power, Iran’s regime has become more daring and destructive, leaving multitudes of human rights violations in its wake. As Bolton stated:

“The fact is that the Tehran regime is the central problem in the Middle East. There’s no fundamental difference between the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Rouhani — they’re two sides of the same coin. I remember when Rouhani was the regime’s chief nuclear negotiator — you couldn’t trust him then; you can’t trust him today. And it’s clear that the regime’s behavior is only getting worse: Their continued violations of the agreement, their work with North Korea on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, only continues to grow.

“And let’s be clear: Even if somebody were to say to you that the regime is in full compliance with the nuclear deal, it doesn’t make any difference. North Korea is already perilously close to the point where they can miniaturize a nuclear weapon, put it on an intercontinental ballistic missile, and hit targets in the United States. And the day after North Korea has that capability, the regime in Tehran will have it as well, simply by signing a check…. that’s why Donald Trump’s views on North Korea are so similar to his views on the regime in Tehran.”

Since 1979, the mullahs and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have significantly expanded their terrorist network to Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. Iran’s main objective is to impose its Islamist laws and radical ideology on other nations, dominate them, and create an Islamic Caliphate. If the Iranian regime is allowed to continue, especially when it completes its nuclear weapons capability and delivery systems with North Korea’s help, its activities do not look as they will benefit global “health.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich praised the Iranian opposition as a just and pure movement for standing against the Iranian regime: “I am very impressed by the dedication of your movement”. He added, “I come today to bring a very simple message: Iran must be free”. He also praised the leadership of Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI): “She is persistent in difficult times. She is a great leader. I thank each of you on her behalf to help her make her a truly historic figure.”

It is time for the powers of the world and the Iranian opposition to join hands to counter the Iranian regime. As Ambassador Bolton made clear:

“…we must avoid allowing the regime in Tehran to achieve its long-sought objective of an arc of control from Iran, through the Baghdad government in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria, and the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon — an arc of control, which if it’s allowed to form, will simply be the foundation for the next grave conflict in the Middle East.

“The regime in Tehran is not merely a nuclear-weapons threat; it’s not merely a terrorist threat; it is a conventional threat to everybody in the region who simply seeks to live in peace and security.

“The regime has failed internationally. It has failed domestically, in economics and politics — indeed its time of weakening is only accelerating, and that’s why the changed circumstances in the United States, I think, throughout Europe and here today, are so important.

“There is a viable opposition to the rule of the ayatollahs, and that opposition is centered in this room today.”

Maryam Rajavi struck a hopeful note for democratic change by saying, as the crowd cheered:

“The ruling regime is in disarray and paralyzed as never before. Iranian society is simmering with discontent and the international community is finally getting closer to the reality that appeasing the ruling theocracy is misguided…. Our people want a constitution based on freedom, democracy, and equality…. The sun of change is shining on Iran.”

Rajavi added that the international community must

“recognize the resistance of the Iranian people to overthrow the mullahs’ religious dictatorship and designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization and evict it from the entire region.”

Any fundamental change in Iran’s theocratic establishment will reverberate across the region. Many terrorist groups will lose their major financial and weapons support. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad will lose his hold on power, which he has wielded for far too long. The major player, Iran’s IRGC, which constantly damages the US and its allies’ national interests and incites anti-Semitism, will disappear; Hezbollah will lose its funding. “Death to America” and Death to Israel” will fade away. The list goes on, and leads to the eventual improvement of all human life, as these atrocities have bled their way into every country.

A united coalition can be a robust force against the ruling mullahs. But it can only be as strong as its members, and their dedication finally to achieve peace in a region that has seen far too much torture and bloodshed. It is the time for the international community and world leaders to join the Iranian opposition, more effectively to counter the Iranian regime.

As Bolton stated:

“The outcome of the president’s policy review should be to determine that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution will not last until its 40th birthday…. the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran. The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change, and therefore the only solution is to change the regime itself.”

With combined, global pressure, this long overdue change can finally become a reality.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He is a Harvard-educated and world-renowned Iranian-American political scientist, business advisor, and author of “Peaceful Reformation in Iran’s Islam“. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu.

Iran’s 1988 Mass Executions Result in US Congress Resolution

June 2, 2017

Iran’s 1988 Mass Executions Result in US Congress Resolution, Iran News Update, June 2, 2017

A recently introduced resolution in the U.S. Congress, H.Res. 159, refers to the horrific mass executions of political prisoners by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Mike McCaul, the House Homeland Security Chair, introduced the resolution, and it was cosponsored by Ed Royce, the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, as well as Ranking Member Eliot Engel, and Rules Committee Chair Representative, Peter Sessions.

It came as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, recently re-elected to a second term, and was addressing the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The Associated Press reported that thousands of people gathered outside the United Nations to protest Iran’s human rights abuses, executions, and the 1988 massacre of more than 30,000 prisoners.

Speakers for the Resolution included former Democratic vice Presidential candidate, Senator Joe Lieberman, and Sir Geoffrey Robertson, former Head of UN war crimes tribunal for Sierra Leone. Robertson wrote a report on Iran’s 1988 massacre, published on the United Nations Arts Initiative.

The resolution “condemns the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the 1988 massacre of political prisoners and [calls] for justice for the victims.”

It adds that “over a 4-month period in 1988, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran carried out the barbaric mass executions of thousands of political prisoners and many unrelated political groups. … [A]ccording to a report by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, the massacre was carried out pursuant to a fatwa, or religious decree, issued by then Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, that targeted the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), also known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK).”

The resolution quotes one of Iran’s own senior former officials, the late Hussein Ali Montazeri, a grand ayatollah who served as Khomeini’s chief deputy, who said the 1988 massacre was ‘’the greatest crime committed during the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us.”

Accordingly, in 1988, the Islamic Republic executed the thousands of prisoners who had even slight affiliations with the main opposition movement Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), because of their political beliefs. The victims were buried in mass graves in Iran after they were shot or hung over a period of just a few months.

Amnesty International reported on November 2, 2007, ‘’between 27 July 1988 and the end of that year, thousands of political prisoners [in Iran], including prisoners of conscience, were executed in prisons nationwide.”

Noted by H.Res. 159, “Those personally responsible for these mass executions include senior officials serving in the current Government of Iran; … [P]risoners were reportedly brought before the commissions and briefly questioned about their political affiliation, and any prisoner who refused to renounce his or her affiliation with groups perceived as enemies by the regime was then taken away for execution.”

Accordingly, “thousands of people, including teenagers and pregnant women, imprisoned merely for participating in peaceful street protests and for possessing political reading material, many of whom had already served or were currently serving prison sentences,” were among the victims.

Stated in the congressional resolution, “[P]risoners were executed in groups, some in mass hangings and others by firing squad, with their bodies disposed of in mass graves.”

According to Amnesty International, ‘’the majority of those killed were supporters of the PMOI [MEK], but hundreds of members and supporters of other political groups . . . were also among the execution victims.’’

The resolution further states, “The later waves of executions targeted religious minorities, such as members of the Baha’i faith, many of whom were often subjected to brutal torture before they were killed.” It add “The families of the executed were denied information about their loved ones and were prohibited from mourning them in public”.

The resolution mentions a recently disclosed audiotape, where Hussein Ali Montazeri can be heard to say that the 1988 mass killings were “the greatest crime committed during the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us.”

Amnesty International’s report concluded, “there should be no impunity for human rights violations, no matter where or when they took place. The 1988 executions should be subject to an independent impartial investigation, and all those responsible should be brought to justice, and receive appropriate penalties’’

The resolution says, “The current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was reportedly aware of, and later publicly condoned the massacre.”

The Montazeri audiotape was released by Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri’s son, Ahmad, a moderate cleric, who posted the confidential audio of his father on his website. He was ordered by the intelligence to remove it, and was later arrested.

On the tape, Montazeri states, “You [Iranian officials] will be in the future etched in the annals of history as criminals. The greatest crime committed under the Islamic Republic, from the beginning of the Revolution until now, which will be condemned by history, is this crime [mass executions] committed by you.”

Ironically, the people Montazeri is addressing and warning on the tape appear to enjoy high positions currently. They include:

• Mostafa Pourmohammadi was appointed by the Hassan Rouhani to be justice minister. After the release of a tape, Pourmohammadi defended the commission of the massacre and said he is “proud“ to have carried out “God’s commandments” in killing the political opponents.

• Ebrahim Raeisi was appointed as the head of Astan Quds Razavi, which has billions of dollars in revenues.

• Hussein Ali Nayeri is now the deputy of the Supreme Court of Iran. In his memoir, Montzari writes that he told Nayeri to stop the executions at least in the month of Moharram religious holidays, but according to the BBC, Nayeri said, “We have executed so far 750 people in Tehran… we get the job done with [executing] another 200 people and then we will listen to whatever you say.”

These people are only few of those who were involved in the 1988 massacre. They have been awarded more senior positions, power, and money.

Montazeri warned them, “Beware of 50 years from now, when people will pass judgment on the leader (Khomeini) and will say he was a bloodthirsty, brutal and murderous leader.”

The message from Iran’s ex-heir Supreme Leader highlights the methods that the officials of the Islamic Republic use to oppress the opposition. Executions or brutal punishments are common, as Iran ranks top in the world when it comes to executions per capita. Crimes against humanity continue to occur. These are the means that the government uses to silence the opposition.

Human rights organizations, the United Nations, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) must conduct investigations, and bring those who have committed and continue to commit these crimes to justice. Calls for justice are increasing. Those who commit crimes against humanity should be held accountable.

Congress must follow up on the recent Congressional resolution.

The Iranian People Hope Trump Will Support Them, Not Their Rulers

May 14, 2017

The Iranian People Hope Trump Will Support Them, Not Their Rulers, Iran Focus, May 14, 2017

(Please see also, Prosecutor General Warns against Attempts to Upset Election Security in Iran. — DM)

The new American president is reviewing policy with regards to Iran, and with an eye to change. Kashfi suggests that, “Any further support for the un-elected regime in Teheran, be it commercial, economic, diplomatic should be tied to a commitment by the Islamic regime to stop supporting international terrorism and to respect women, minorities, and human rights.”

With the change of power in America, the hope and expectation of the Iranian people is that Washington will support the Iranian people, and advocate the overthrow of the Islamic regime.

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London, 14 May – It’s been reported that more than 9 million Iranians have fled their homeland since the Revolution in 1979. This means that more than 12 percent of Iran’s citizens chose to abandon their homes, families, and belongings, to maintain their freedom. It is estimated that close to four million Iranians have taken refuge in the U.S since 1979.

These refugees consider the International, and specifically European, trade agreements and relations with Iran, their worst nightmare.

The Islamic regime and some in the international community claim that support for the so-called “reformist” and “pragmatic” President Hassan Rouhani will ultimately bring freedom and democracy to Iran. They attempt to convince the free world and democratic countries that appeasement and normalized relations will change the Iranian regime’s attitude and behavior.

“However,” writes Mansour Kashfi, author and president of Kashex International Petroleum Consulting with over 50 years’ experience in petroleum exploration, primarily in Iran in an article for WorldTribune, “the distinction between a ‘moderate’ president and ‘fundamentalist’ Supreme Leader in Iran is a political subterfuge used to mislead the population and perpetuate the inherent corruption of the Islamic regime governing system.

This corruption will not only continue to oppress the Iranian people but also undermine the transparency in business dealings with foreign investors.”

After two years of negotiations, an agreement was reached to lift the sanctions on Iran in return for the Islamic Republic halting its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.

In the midst of this, former President Obama decided to attempt to make a connection with Ayatollah Khameini, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic regime. Obama sent Khameini several friendly letters. Some called this course of action outrageous, considering that the Iranian people were crying for democracy and American help to support a secular government in Iran, and the disastrous human rights issues in Iran, continued terrorist acts in the region, and ongoing testing of intercontinental missiles. Obama may have done better by establishing a relationship with the Iranian people, instead.

According to Kashfi, “Clergies in Iran are as murderous as any religious group in history. From the very first day of the Islamic regime’s establishment, they executed many innocent Iranian officials and military officers, and provoked war with Iraq just to consolidate their dictatorial regime,” and adds, “During eight years of bitter war with Iraq and over one million casualties, clergies dragged school children to the front lines, where their little bodies were used as sandbags to clear mine fields.”

“War was an excuse to execute dissidents and anyone who displeased the bloodthirsty clergies. Minorities including non-Shiite believers such as Sunnis, Jews, Christians, and Bahais were executed on political charges. All these killings and unjust acts in Iran were carried out on command of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameini,” writes Kashfi.

According to The U.S. Congress’s Human Rights Country Report there has been no change in the status of human rights in Iran. Since 2013, when Hassan Rouhani became president, the status of human rights worsened.

Respect for human rights distinguishes America as a great nation, so Kashfi wonders how it can “…still believe it can establish a lasting line of communication with a terrorist regime in Iran that routinely persecutes religious and ethnic minorities, tortures and systematically executes political prisoners, and promotes international terrorism abroad?” He adds, “…when America fails to lead, enemies of freedom like the Islamic regime of Iran and Russia fill the vacuum.”

After the U.S.withdrew from Iraq, Kashfi says that “the Islamic regime did everything it could to establish oppression and spread terror in that country, and Russia began focusing on the southern Persian Gulf states.”

The new American president is reviewing policy with regards to Iran, and with an eye to change. Kashfi suggests that, “Any further support for the un-elected regime in Teheran, be it commercial, economic, diplomatic should be tied to a commitment by the Islamic regime to stop supporting international terrorism and to respect women, minorities, and human rights.”

With the change of power in America, the hope and expectation of the Iranian people is that Washington will support the Iranian people, and advocate the overthrow of the Islamic regime.

From Execution to Medieval Torture: “Iran’s Mandela”, Ayatollah Boroujerdi

March 13, 2017

From Execution to Medieval Torture: “Iran’s Mandela”, Ayatollah Boroujerdi, Gatestone InstituteMajid Rafizadeh, March 13, 2017

(Since he wants to reform Iranian Islam, would CAIR and other Islamist groups refer to him as “Islamophobic?” — DM)

Ayatollah Boroujerdi has long advocated for the abolishing of “execution, and cruel, inhumane, and degrading punishments; such as torture, stoning and whipping. He rejected anti-Semitism and advocated religious freedom. He established charities and welfare centers to help the poor and assist victims of natural disasters. He condemned personal financial gain from religious activities.

His prison sentence was recently completed. It is critical to point out that Boroujerdi is still nowhere near free.

“He is said to have been beaten, thrown against a wall, and had cold water thrown on him when he was sleeping. He suffers from a heart condition, pulmonary issues, diabetes, severe problems with his eyes including untreated cataracts, and kidney stones. His legs are swollen which makes it very difficult for him to walk. His hands also shake as a result of his Parkinson’s disease. While in detention, he has not been receiving necessary medical treatment…” – Amnesty International.

Ayatollah Seyed Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi is a high-ranking prominent dissident clergyman in Iran. He has strongly called for separation of religion and state, and he condemns Islamic radicalism, fundamentalism, and terrorism. He is opposed to political Islam and the rule of Velayet-e-Faqih (Islamic custodianship over people), the theocratic system that governs Iran. Boroujerdi has many supporters and is known as Iran’s Mandela.

“He has long advocated for the abolishment of execution, and cruel, inhumane, and degrading punishments; such as torture, stoning and whipping. He rejected anti-Semitism and advocated religious freedom. He established charities and welfare centers to help the poor and assist victims of natural disasters. He condemned personal financial gain from religious activities. His call has been welcomed by an increasing number of followers to the point that, until his arrest, his gatherings surpassed the theocracy’s organized ceremonies, by their sheer size and numbers.”

For these humanitarian endeavors, he was sentenced to execution by the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, due to international pressure, in 2006, the Iranian regime changed the judgment to 11 years in Iran’s most notorious prison, Evin.

Ayatollah Seyed Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi, in his prison cell in Iran (undated photo).

He spent 11 years enduring heinous conditions with no medical care or access to a lawyer. There was no fair and due process.

He was convicted of ambiguous charges such as “waging war against God”. As Amnesty International wrote in a report:

“He [Boroujerdi] was arrested at his home in Tehran on October 8, 2006, along with more than 300 of his followers. He and some of his followers were initially sentenced to death after an unfair trial in Branch 3 of the Special Court for the Clergy in June 2007. His sentence was commuted in August 2007 to eleven years in prison. In addition to this, Ayatollah Boroujerdi was defrocked (banned from wearing his clerical robes and thereby from practicing his clerical duties), and his house and all of his belongings were confiscated. He had reportedly been found guilty of at least 30 charges, including “waging war against God” (moharebeh); acts against national security; publicly calling political leadership by the clergy (velayat-e faqih) unlawful.”

He was frequently tortured. Several attempts to kill him in prison led the Human Rights Watch to pressure Iran into conducting an investigation. According to Amnesty International:

“Ayatollah Boroujerdi has reportedly been tortured and otherwise ill-treated on numerous occasions since his arrest. He is said to have been beaten, thrown against a wall, and had cold water thrown on him when he was sleeping. He suffers from a heart condition, pulmonary issues, diabetes, severe problems with his eyes including untreated cataracts, and kidney stones. His legs are swollen which makes it very difficult for him to walk. His hands also shake as a result of his Parkinson’s disease. While in detention, he has not been receiving necessary medical treatment and has lost a considerable amount of weight. He was reportedly attacked and beaten in prison on November 17, 2013, perhaps in retaliation for letters he wrote that have been published on various web sites.”

In a letter to then UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, titled “I Implore You to Sympathize with Our Plight,” Ayatollah Boroujerdi revealed the Iranian regime’s atrocities, oppression, and support of terrorism:

“Greetings to the respected United Nations General Assembly. I am writing you as a political prisoner from the dreaded Evin Prison. I have been imprisoned and tortured for the past eight years for simply speaking out against political Islam and the cruel crimes committed by the government of Iran against its citizens due to implementation of religious laws. I would like to bring to your attention that Iran’s natural resources along with its national wealth are being spent — as a matter of priority — on funding Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain and Iraq by the authorities while Iran’s own citizens are enduring widespread poverty, unprecedented unemployment along with high rates of depression and physical ailments. People in Iran have therefore lost hope.”

Boroujerdi’s prison sentence was recently completed, but it is critical to point out that he is still nowhere near free. He is still deprived of basic needs, he is under house arrest with heavy conditions and bail has been imposed on him.

Ayatollah Boroujerdi released a message recently, according to his representative:

“Our teacher of monotheism, Seyed Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi in his new position, just like in the past, demands for fulfillment of the rights of the innocent Iranian nation. The approaches and manners which the opposition groups in exile have adopted with regards to defending the rights of our deprived people have proven to be devoid of faithfulness and sincerity in fulfilling their promises. The shady dealings and political tampering which have become common practices these days have resulted in increased injustice, unfairness, and lack of freedom. This political-ideological prisoner is crying out and protesting against prejudices and against those who by adopting inhumane policies tend to ignore his tireless efforts and self-sacrifices in fighting oppression and tyranny, and those following their own personal interests, factions and cliques in campaign against this regime.”

The International community, the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and Iran’s opposition groups need to pressure the Islamic Republic of Iran to release Ayatollah Boroujerdi.

Finally, as Ayatollah Boroujerdi articulately stated:

“It shall be noted by future generations that I have made the world aware of the dire situation in Iran numerous times. Those of you, who are well aware of our desperate plight, hear our cries and remain indifferent shall be remembered for generations to come. I implore you to sympathize with our plight and understand that we are being silenced. We are asking for help once again.”

In trouble, Iran tries to discredit the MEK – dissidents

February 7, 2017

In trouble, Iran tries to discredit the MEK – dissidents, Iran Focus, February 6, 2017

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London, 7 Feb – As President Donald Trump’s new US administration steps up pressure on Iran over its belligerent activities, Iranian opponents are arguing that Tehran is now targeting its main organised opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI or MEK), with disinformation in order to discredit its role as a potential alternative to the theocratic regime.

The MEK, established over 51 years ago, as an opposition movement to the Shah’s regime, soon fell out with the clerical government that took over with the 1979 revolution. Since 1981, the MEK has been considered as the ruling theocracy’s main nemesis. The MEK is also the leading force in the main opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Following the publication of articles by the Iranian ‘lobby’ targeting the MEK with ‘misinformation’, Farzin Hashemi, a Member of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote on Monday:

“Over the past week, once again policy on Iran was widely discussed in the media. Simultaneously, in recent weeks there has been more growing call for a new approach toward Iranian opposition, the MEK. The announcement by the US National Security Advisor that ‘Iran is officially on notice’ drew much attention. This position was followed by more Tweets from President Trump and a new round of sanctions, raising the prospect of a change of policy in the US approach towards Iran”.

Hashemi pointed out that both the NCRI and the MEK support sanctions against Iranian officials over their role in ballistic missile proliferation, a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231:

“As far as the Iranian Resistance, and its components including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK/PMOI), is concerned imposing sanctions against a number of individuals and companies affiliated to the clerical regime for their role in missile proliferation is a positive step in confronting the illegitimate and terrorist dictatorship whose record includes 120,000 political executions”.

Last week the Trump administration sanctioned 25 Iranian officials and entities for a recent ballistic missile test launch by Tehran. Hashemi argued, however, that in order to deal with the threats emanating from Tehran – which it described as the Godfather of state-sponsored terrorism – the world community ought to impose comprehensive sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), the Ministry of Intelligence, and “other entities involved in suppression of the Iranian people and export of terrorism”.

“The IRGC and its affiliated militias and their commanders must be expelled from the countries of the region, in particular from Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Otherwise, the region would not witness peace and tranquillity”.

“The prospect of a shift of US policy, has already shaken not only the Iranian regime and its lobbies but also apologists and advocates of the old and failed policy of appeasement. In order to maintain the ‘golden era,’ a term used by the mullahs’ officials internally and sometimes publicly to describe the last few years of US policy on Iran, they have resorted to a two-pronged strategy”, Hashemi argued.

Through their “propaganda in the media”, under various covers, they are trying to create an “echo chamber” with which any suggestion of the need for a firm policy on Iran and its rogue behaviour, both at home and abroad, is described as “war mongering”, he said. “They are desperately trying to intimidate those calling for a change of policy to side with the people of Iran, through such false labels”.

“Simultaneously, they are engaged in a massive disinformation campaign to discredit the democratic opposition, the MEK and the coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), led by its President-elect Maryam Rajavi. By spreading fake news about the MEK/PMOI, originated from the Ministry of Intelligence of the mullahs’ regime and the intelligence section of the IRGC, their objective is to convey this false message that there is no viable opposition and the world must accept and deal with the religious dictatorship ruling Iran. Thus, the core of the issue is not their debunked allegations but their hidden agenda to maintain the policy of appeasement”.

“So, the choice is simply to opt between supporting the central banker of international terrorism with the record of having executed 120,000 dissidents for political reasons –ironically, the majority of them members and sympathizers of the PMOI/MEK – or to side with the Iranian people in their quest for a free and democratic Iran in which there would be no more executions, no more gender discrimination, no more supporting terrorist groups and destabilizing the entire region and no more nuclear weapons program”.

Iranian dissidents have also taken to social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to denounce Tehran’s ‘media propaganda ploy’ against the MEK.

On 9 January this year, 23 US prominent dignitaries, many of them with years of public service, urged the 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.”

Highlighting the failure of the past policy that the nuclear deal might lead to a change of behavior from Tehran, 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 the voice of the Iranian people to be listened to through the NCRI and the MEK.

The former US officials also spoke out against Iran’s misinformation campaign against the MEK.

Pointing out that some “media and policy community continue to recycle defamatory allegations from decades past,” they wrote “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 US is clearly needed and long overdue”.

They concluded by recommending to Trump: “With a more enlightened grasp of the Iranian regime’s priorities and vulnerabilities, your Administration will be equipped to exert leverage enabling the US to oppose Tehran’s repression and adventurism while standing for the fundamental values both our peoples share”.

Hashemi added: “While, Tehran’s lobby and advocates of appeasement will desperately continue to allocate all their resource to discredit the resistance, and in particular the MEK (PMOI) and to preserve the failed old policy, their time is over”.

 

More about the People’s Mojahdin Organization of Iran (PMOI/ MEK) —– Source

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.)

MEK Today

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.

Iranian Political Prisoners in Dire Need of the Support of the International Community

January 11, 2017

Iranian Political Prisoners in Dire Need of  the Support of the International Community, Iran News Update, January 11, 2017

(Perhaps if we referred to them as “Palestinians” the international community might notice their plight. — DM)

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Silence of the global community sends a message to the Iranian regime that it can get away with these crimes, and that is a message not to be condoned with silence.

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An article in The Hill by Ali Safavi, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and president of the Near East Policy Research, discusses the alarming reports which from came from Gohardasht Prison, that activist and political prisoner Ali Moezzi, had disappeared on January 4, 2016.

Moezzi spent years in prison in the 1980’s for his affiliation with the Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK).  Beginning in 2008, he served two more years, for having visited his two daughters residing in Camp Ashraf, Iraq. Arrested again in 2011, seven months after his latest release, for attending the funeral of a fellow political prisoner, he’s been imprisoned ever since. He has faced much pressure, including the extension of his current prison term beyond its specified four years.He’s also be subjected to numerous explicit death threats.

Reportedly, he’s undergone routine beatings and torture and the absence of medical care for his pre-existing health problems. Moezzi’s arrest came shortly after he had been released from a hospital after undergoing surgery following a cancer diagnosis.

The regime has repeatedly been charged with disregard for the health and well-being of prisoners, especially those detained for political or religious offenses.  A recent example is Arash Sadeghi, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for his peaceful human rights activism. Sadeghi began a hunger strike shortly after his wife was arrested. Sadeghi finally ended his hunger strike after judicial authorities granted his wife temporary release from her pre-trial detention. His hunger strike lasted more than 70 days befor the regime agreed to even that, and it was not the likelihood of Sadeghi’s imminent death that prompted them to act, but the massive support that his protest had garnered within Iran and abroad. Hundreds of Iranians gathered outside of Evin Prison, to protest his treatment. His cause was promoted on the internet and via banned social media networks by several thousands of supporters.

Salve writes, “It may not be a coincidence that Moezzi disappeared from Gohardasht Prison just one day after it was announced that Sadeghi had been hospitalized and brought back from the brink of death.”  He adds, “Both incidents demonstrated that the Iranian regime has no qualms about endangering the lives of its political adversaries, but the ruling mullahs can only take such a situation to its drastic conclusion if relatively free from public scrutiny.”

He says that it may be easier for the regime simply allow political prisoners to die, if those deaths occur in secret locations, so that they can claim “plausible” deniability.

Iran’s domestic activists or the international community may still be able to save Moezzi in much the same way they saved Sadeghi, but it is impossible to know Moezzi’s current condition, much less to follow its deterioration in real time.  This is a challenge as it is difficult to rally around a cause that they cannot see.  However, these atrocities must not be allowed to continue in the shadows.

This is the challenge that requires serious commitment, and a campaign that includes the international community and media. “World powers must take an interest in this case, and in the overall plight of Iranian prisoners of conscience,” writes Salvi.

Which is actually underscored by the recent success of the Sadeghi case.  Silence of the global community sends a message to the Iranian regime that it can get away with these crimes, and that is a message not to be condoned with silence.