By Mahmoud Hakamian
Forty years after a tyrannical Islamist regime took power Iran, the Iranian people expect the world community to support their right to achieve freedom and right to resist the rule of the clerical dictatorship that has destroyed every aspect of their lives.
Iran’s regime has gained international notoriety over its secret nuclear weapons program and support for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, but Westerners know less of the regime’s draconian human rights record and of the organized pro-democracy movement their main democratic opposition, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).
The Khomeini regime has executed some 120,000 political prisoners, mainly MEK activists. The United Nations rates Iran as the world’s leading executioner per capita. Last month, Amnesty International said more than 7,000 people were arrested in a chilling crackdown on dissent during 2018.
All throughout 2018, Iran witnessed nationwide protests calling for regime change. The dissent was triggered in part by the failing economy and clampdown on social freedoms. Defying state censors, the MEK routinely sends out footage of demonstrators chanting “Death to the dictator” and writing graffiti calling for regime change on street walls.
The MEK, also known as the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), is the largest and most defiant foe to Iran’s regime and has grassroots following in Iran. The MEK’s underground network of Resistance Units play a central role in organizing the protests that have all but crippled the regime.
With the exception of the Trump Administration, all US governments have ignored the regime’s terror at home and abroad and attempted to placate the mullahs. The Obama Administration turned its back on the 2009 uprising, instead striking a deal with the mullahs that lifted sanctions.
The European Union meanwhile continues its efforts to appease the mullahs, with major European powers establishing a special mechanism this year to bypass sanctions re-imposed by the Trump Administration. Though most economic experts expect the EU mechanism to fail, EU leaders are once again betraying their fundamental value of support for human rights, all for short-term economic interests.
On February 13-14, the US will co-host an international summit in Poland with special focus on Iran. Tehran is already leading a campaign to discredit the event through fearmongering, with unproven claims that Washington’s war hawks are hoping to stoke up support for a military conflict with Iran. EU nations are divided on whether to continue their attempts to salvage the nuclear deal.
On behalf of the people of Iran, Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in January made eight demands of Western leaders to make up for four decades of appeasement. Chief among Mrs. Rajavi’s demands was “Recognition of the Iranian people’s right to resistance to overthrow the mullahs’ religious fascism and achieve freedom”.
Maryam Rajavi’s demands of the West include the blacklisting of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Intelligence Ministry as terrorist entities, the expulsion of their agents from the US and Europe and the referral of the regime’s human rights dossier to the UN Security Council.
Maryam Rajavi’s call is evermore justified given Tehran’s recent record of terror on European soil. In 2018 alone, European security agencies thwarted Iran’s terror plots against dissidents in Albania, Demark and France. That included the arrest of an Iranian diplomat who personally gave a powerful explosive device to two terrorists to bomb the annual ‘Free Iran’ rally in Paris hosted by the MEK. In addition to tens of thousands of Iranian supporters of democracy and several hundred lawmakers from across the globe, that event was attended by Mrs. Rajavi and by President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
This month, German media reported that an MEK sympathizer was violently beaten on the streets of Berlin by the regime’s agents who warned him not to attend the rally the MEK intends to hold in Warsaw.
By continuously targeting the MEK, Iran’s regime has made it clear that it fears the group as a viable force that can bring regime change to Iran. The NCRI coalition, which includes the MEK, has a democratic platform that enshrines human rights, equality among men and women, and peace with Iran’s neighbors for the country’s future.
It is time the international community throws its political weight behind Maryam Rajavi and the MEK to send a message to Iran’s restless population that as they fight to overthrow the murderous mullahs, the world stands with them.
The Warsaw Summit can do a lot of good, but only if it recognizes the legitimate right of Iranians to achieve their own freedom.
President Trump is on track to become the sole US President in history to stand on the side of Iran’s people as they edge ever closer to ousting their brutal dictators, but his Administration should now formally recognize the right to resist the brutal regime. The EU and US should endorse Maryam Rajavi’s call to action and offer political support to Iran’s people as they move beyond a decaying regime to a bright, prosperous and democratic future.