Iran, December 6, 2019—In the summer of 1988, the Iranian regime committed a heinous crime against humanity. Under the orders of Ruhollah Khomeini, the regime’s founder, in the span of a few weeks, Iranian authorities executed more than 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). At the time, the regime managed to keep the lid on this crime and prevent the world from learning of its atrocities. It was only with the widespread efforts of the Iranian resistance over three decades that information about the 1988 massacre trickled out of the country and the world woke up to the barbarity of the mullahs’ regime.
31 years later, in November 2019, the regime committed another atrocious slaughter, this time in the streets of dozens of cities across Iran. When protests erupted across the country following the regime's decision to impose an unprecedented hike on the prices of gasoline, Iranian security forces responded with violence. The regime’s repressive forces fired at protesters from point-blank range, and used armored vehicles, helicopters and heavy machine guns to murder the impoverished people who had poured into the streets to raise their voice against the corruption of their rulers and demand their God-given right to dignity, freedom and a decent livelihood.
This time around, despite imposing a near-total shutdown on internet services, the regime did not succeed in hiding its crimes against humanity. News, images and videos of the protests and the brutal crackdown of security forces quickly spread across Iran and throughout the world. The MEK documented at least 1,000 people killed by the Iranian security forces and published the names of 320 of the victims of the mullahs’ savagery. At least 4,000 others have been injured, the MEK has reported, and 12,000 have been arrested and are in severe danger.
The regime’s fear of the consequences of killing civilians
The scale of the brutality of the Iranian regime caused outrage both inside Iran and across the globe. Iranian officials, who are now afraid of the consequences of their unbridled barbarity against the people, are trying to distance themselves from their own disaster and downplay their savagery.
On Wednesday, Iran’s state-run media aired the response of Ali Khamenei, the regime’s supreme leader, to Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), who had demanded the regime leader to take measures to contain the public outrage against the regime’s killing of civilians.
According the official media, Khamenei agreed to consider “civilians who, under legal frameworks, did not have any role in protests and riots" as "martyrs." The supreme leader also stipulated that “the families of victims who lost their lives in any way during the protests be given restitution for the loss of their loved ones.”
Under the regime’s laws, the families of “martyrs” are given social and financial benefits. The regime hopes to thus dampen the rage of protesters whose initial reasons for coming to the streets were economic grievances.
The regime’s crimes
By confessing that at least some of the people killed during the protests were innocent civilians, the highest authority of the Iranian regime has effectively admitted that his security forces have blindly opened fire on crowds and killed many people. This also tells a lot about the numerous arrested people, who are now being tortured in the prisons of the regime.
Also, Khamenei made recommendations to make amends for killing civilians while on November 17, he himself called the protesters “thugs” and ordered the crackdown on the demonstrations. He also warned the people to stay at home “if they hold their lives dear,” an open threat to kill anyone who joined the protests. Also, on November 27, in a meeting with representatives of the Basij paramilitary, Khamenei described the protests as a “deep-rooted, widespread and very dangerous conspiracy” and urged his forces to suppress the people in the same brutal fashion that the regime did in the 1980s.
Khamenei told the Basijis to be present everywhere and to avoid "being entangled by bureaucratic processes," which effectively means he gave them free hand to shoot and kill civilians at will to preserve his regime.
In addition to Khamenei, other regime officials repeatedly threatened to execute the detainees and kill anyone who comes to the streets to protest against the regime. Iranian authorities associated the protests with foreign enemies and promised to “punish them in the most severe way.”
The regime also refrains from declaring any figures on the number of people it has killed and prevents the families of the victims to hold funerals for their loved ones.
The implication of Khamenei’s remarks
The stark contrast between Khamenei’s order to give concessions to the families of the victims and the remarks that he had other regime officials had made a few weeks ago only show the desperate situation of his regime.
More than anyone else, Khamenei has understood that his time is up, and the people of Iran no longer want his regime. This was evident in the “Down with Khamenei” slogans that echoed in every corner of Iran, where Iranians braved the odds and defied the regime’s security forces to voice their demand for regime change. His remarks also echo those of other regime officials who have tried to distance themselves from the killing of protesters and lay the blame on other regime officials and institutions.
Khamenei has also understood that his old tactics are no longer effective. He can’t preserve his rule by resorting to more violence, by shutting down communications and threatening to kill the people.
But what he doesn’t understand is that the sea of blood that stands between the people of Iran and the regime won’t be bridged by mere concessions. His regime got away with the murder of 30,000 MEK prisoners for 30 years. But it’s not going to happen again.
After the November uprisings, the people of Iran—and the regime—have entered a new stage. And there will be no return to previous stage. The only way forward is regime change.
As Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said in remarks on November 20, “The army of the unemployed and hungry, the army of suppressed women, and the army of those who have nothing to lose but their chains, are not going to give in and surrender. They are not thinking of reforming the regime… They want to uproot the entire regime.”