The thing is that the Regime has a viable alternative in the form of the oldest, largest, and most popular resistance organization in Iran, which has fought two separate regimes since it was founded in 1965. That is the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
In order to help you earn more about the MEK, we have created an in-depth series. In this part, we will learn about how the 2009 Uprising.
In June 2009, President Ahmadinejed was announced as the winner with 62% of the vote of the election just two hours after voting booths closed. As anyone can guess, that’s not enough time to count 40 million votes, so the three “opposition” candidates said that the election had been rigged and subsequent investigations found that the turnout at 30 polling sites exceeded 100% and turnout at 200 other sites exceeded 95%.
So Iranians poured into the streets in protest with the MEK and other groups, like the newly formed Green Movement, helping to organise the protests. The MEK used slogans to target the Regime, including “Down with the principle of velayat-e faqih” and “Down with the dictator”.
Velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the jurist) is the guiding principle of the Iranian Regime, which places the Supreme Leader at the head of government. The MEK believes that the only way to political legitimacy should be fair and open elections and universal public suffrage.
Now, the MEK slogans soon began to dominate the demonstrations, which showed incredible public support for the MEK and its agenda, as well as the MEK’s ability to direct events. So, the Regime reacted with violence and suppression. They banned the MEK rallies, blocked MEK websites and cell service in order to impair the MEK’s ability to organise. Dozens of MEK members were killed and many more were arrested.
Many Green Movement members were eventually released, with the harshest punishment being reserved for MEK members and supporters.
Indeed, Prosecutor General of Tehran, Saieed Mortazavi, presented a report to the Iranian parliament about the role of the MEK in the uprising.
Official government newspaper Jomhuri Eslami wrote that Mortazavi claimed the MEK were “plotting for a velvet coup”, saying that the MEK played a role at three main points in the protests “in an organized way and calculated manner”. Mortazavi said that the MEK had “infiltrated” the election headquarters of some of the candidates and were “responsible for directing and leading the riots”. Another MP said that the MEK instigated the “riot” and all three groups were in jails.
Next time, we’ll look at some other reports about the MEK’s involvement in the 2009 uprising and the punishments that they endured as a result.