February 11 is an official Iranian national holiday: The revolution that ended Shah’s dictatorship in 1979 is commemorated. One of the leading forces of the revolution was the People’s Mojahedin Organization whose current President is Maryam Rajavi. From Paris, she runs the opposition in exile against the mullahs’ dictatorship that assumed power immediately after the revolution that continues to this day.
Rajavi was talking to our editor Ilya Tüchter.
Mrs. Rajavi, where were you on February 11, 1979?
Maryam Rajavi: On that day and the days prior I was in Tehran. While Ayatollah Khomeini was attempting to get the youth, as the main force of the anti-monarchial revolution, out of the scene, immediately after the fall of the dictatorship on February 11, we began to organize the freedom-loving youth, especially the students. I did this together with some members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization who had just been released from the secret prisons of the Shah.
At the time, did you ever think that Iran would develop into a new state of injustice rather than a democracy?
With our cognition of the new rulers, especially Khomeini, we knew that they were regressive and anti-pluralist with their own reactionary interpretation of Islam. For this reason we made every effort through educating and organizing the people and the youth to defer the accession of this reactionary nature and to prevent the onset of a total oppression and repression. However, I did not envision at the time that a dictatorship a hundred times more bloodthirsty than the previous one would come to power. Only two years after the rule of Khomeini, the number of political prisoners reached thousands. In June 1981, just 28 months after mullahs began to govern, they began to destroy an entire generation. In Tehran’s Evin Prison, some days one could hear 400 coup de graces which meant 400 people had been executed.
She herself fled and leads the National Council of Resistance, which was founded in 1981. Thus your struggle against the mullahs’ regime has lasted 34 years. Do you sometimes doubt that one day you can return to your home country?
Maryam Rajavi: No, I have never doubted that the religious dictatorship in Iran will be overthrown by the Iranian people and their resistance and all who had to leave their homes in the fight against this regime will return back to their country.
What is your objective for Iran?
Maryam Rajavi: We want a Republic based on secularism, pluralism and gender equality; a society based on human rights with the abolishment of the death penalty and torture and without the senseless Sharia of the mullahs; a non-nuclear Iran. Our objective can be summed up in three words: freedom, democracy and equality. This objective carries the strength of victory within.
The U.S. government seems serious in approaching Tehran and because of the Islamic State there is even talk of a military cooperation with the Iranians in Iraq. What do you expect from President Obama or Angela Merkel?
Maryam Rajavi: Rapprochement with the mullahs to combat ISIS is a devastating experience. The Iranian regime is still the worst factor for instability in the region. It is the source of terrorism and fundamentalism. The commanders of the Revolutionary Guards talk today with pride: “We have a Hezbollah group in Lebanon and many other Hezbollahs in Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere.” If the mullahs were not ruling Iran, ISIS would have never experienced such growth in Iraq.
My expectation of Chancellor Merkel is that she takes the lead in an international initiative to reduce this threat which is not just confined to Iraq and Syria, but is affecting much of the world from Europe to South America.
Even Europe is facing Islamic fundamentalism. Years ago, your movement warned about this.
Maryam Rajavi: Islamic fundamentalism is an authoritarian ideology that seeks to survive through misogyny, religious discrimination, and export of terrorism. The birth of this political Islam came when Khomeini seized power in Iran. In the wake of the 1979 revolution, this phenomenon became the driving force for fundamentalism in all Islamic countries. Its antithesis is a democratic and tolerant Islam, in which we believe; an Islam whose message is mercy and freedom.
By late March, maybe the end of June, an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program needs to be reached. The Mojahedin have repeatedly revealed that Iran is not telling the truth about its nuclear program. To your information, where is the program standing?
The mullahs are on the threshold of being able to make the bomb. Any concession by the international community means that Ali Khamenei will again continue with his fraud.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Khomeini’s successor, remains the key man in Iran. Because of an illness, there are rumors of a power struggle over succession. Do you have any evidence on this?
Maryam Rajavi: Regime’s internal power struggle goes far beyond the question of Khamenei’s illness. Top of the ruling class is deeply divided.
Since the election of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013, at least the economic situation appears to be stabilizing. They say this is a fallacy?
Maryam Rajavi: Yes, if we compare the developments in 2014 with those of the past few years, we will see a rise in protest movements. Officials say there have been more than 3000 protests, mainly by workers, students and teachers. The repression and the human rights violations – including 1,200 executions in the administration of President Hassan Rouhani – have intensified; the families have become poorer. The unemployment rate based on an internal statistics by the mullahs’ regime stands at %41!