More than 80 million Iranians at home or living across the world are remarkable in myriad ways. Their civilization goes back thousands of years and includes King Cyrus the Great (600-530 BCE), one of antiquities most enlightened leaders anywhere.
Unfortunately for Iran and the world, the movement to establish modern democratic governance in the country collapsed in 1953, when a U.S./U.K.-backed coup ousted the elected Mohammad Mossaddeq government.
The ensuing Shah Pahlavi dictatorship was overthrown by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, who built a religious fascism, which became one of the most inhuman regimes on earth and continues holding absolute power over Iranians today.
Iran’s PMOI political party broke from Khomeini soon after the revolution; by 1981, its supporters were enduring his full wrath. On June 20, 1981, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fired on a peaceful street demonstration in Tehran organized by the PMOI and comprising about half a million persons.
The Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), provoked by Khomeini but initiated by Saddam Hussein, witnessed enormous human losses on both sides, including the lives of many Iranian child soldiers sent to certain death. The war allowed Khomeini to crush dissent within Iran. By 1986, several thousand PMOI members had relocated to a desert in Iraq between the two armies, where they fought against the Supreme Leader until the war finally ended in mid-1988.
That summer, Khomeini’s religious decree against political opponents resulted in the massacre of approximately 30,000 prisoners, mostly from the PMOI. Members of his “Death Commission” today continue to hold senior positions in Iran’s government.
Since 1979, the regime’s terror activities abroad have included interventions in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Yemen. One of its mass murder attempts was against the Free Iran gathering near Paris in June, 2018, attended by political leaders from across the world. One of those awaiting trial is Assaddollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat-terrorist posted in Vienna. In March of the same year, Albanian security neutralized a plot to bomb a PMOI new year’s event in Tirana.
Camp Ashraf 1 was established by about 3000 PMOI supporters in 1986 in an Iraqi desert following their expulsion from France after its government reportedly made a deal with Khomeini for the release of French nationals held by Iran. When the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003, all Ashraf weapons were seized and the coalition agreed to protect all residents. In 2009, Washington violated this commitment in transferring protection to the Iraqi government of al-Maliki, who soon proved a puppet of Tehran. Iraqi military attacks on unarmed Camp Ashraf residents occurred in 2009, 2011 and 2013, resulting in more than 100 deaths, seven hostage takings and scores injured. The worst was done by Iraq in concert with the IRGC’s Quds force in Sept. 2013, resulting in the murder of 52 defenceless women and men. All residents had been forcibly relocated earlier from Camp Ashraf by an ill-advised U.N. Working Group to “Camp Liberty” near Baghdad airport, where they faced repeated missile and rocket attacks from Tehran’s proxies.
In 2016, thanks to the people and government of Albania, survivors moved to Turana and later to a facility outside the capital now known as Ashraf 3.
International support for the PMOI has grown incrementally since 2003 to a point that in July, 2019 at the formal opening of Ashraf 3 fully 47 nations were represented by political, religious and other civil society leaders.
Given an upcoming October national election, Canada’s small delegation was led by former prime minister Stephen Harper, but last year’s one in Paris had good M.P. and political representation from both the Liberal and Conservative parties.
The large U.S. political delegation comprised mostly Republicans, but Democrats, including former senator Joe Lieberman, were also present. Americans soldiers who helped protect Ashraf 1 until 2009 spoke eloquently; so did former American diplomat Lincoln Bloomfield. He stressed that the PMOI residents of Ashraf 3 residents are clearly not members of any cult and have not violated any resident’s human rights despite much contrary propaganda in western media from Tehran.
Shirin Ebadi, Iran’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights lawyer, called last year for a U.N-monitored referendum to achieve peaceful regime change by enacting a “secular constitution based on the universal declaration of human rights.” To encourage this initiative, she called for sanctions that “weaken the regime, but do not hurt the people themselves.”
Similarly, PMOI interim leader Maryam Rajavi’s ten-point platform calls for, among other features of democratic governance, free and fair elections, gender equality, separation of church and state, rule of law, regional peace and a nuclear weapon-free Iran.