Asghar Badizadegan, one of the three founders of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), was born in 1940 in Isfahan. Badizadegan spent his childhood and youth in Isfahan, Karaj and Tehran. He studied chemical engineering at the Technical University of Tehran, where he became assistant professor in 1964.
Interests in politics and the founding of MEK
In tandem with his studies, Badizadegan became interested in politics, especially in the teaching of Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani, one of the few progressive clerics who preached about a democratic Islam that did not impose constraints on its followers and others. Asghar Badizadegan’s dreams to see his people live in freedom and democracy drew him to the National Front, an organization that followed Mohammad Mossadegh, Iran’s popular Prime Minister who nationalized the country’s oil industry and was eventually deposed in a coup by the Shah regime and its foreign allies.
During his political activism with the National Front, Badizadegan became acquainted with Mohammad Hanifnejad and Saeid Mohsen, two young men who shared his aspirations for freedom and democracy in Iran. In the years that followed, Asghar Badizadegan, Hanifnejad and Mohsen founded the PMOI/MEK, an organization dedicated to bringing freedom and democracy to Iran.
During the first years of PMOI’s life, Badizadegan coordinated the organization’s public relations, traveling to different countries, meeting with other organizations.
A champion of resistance under torture
In 1971, the Savak, the intelligence service of the Shah regime, conducted a series of raids on the headquarters of the MEK, which until then was still a secret organization. Badizadegan and the other founders of the MEK were arrested during this period.
Shah’s police brutally tortured Badizadegan during this period to force him to reveal information about his organization and its members. The inmates who had been with him in prison have recounted accounts of the Savak’s torturers burning him with hot iron, to the extent that that burns seeped through skin and flesh and reached his bones.
To the dismay of the Savak, Badizadegan did not say a word about the information that his torturers sought and became a champion of resistance in the memories of all political prisoners who knew him.
Prepared for a long struggle
While under severe torture and interrogation, Badizadegan sent instructions to the PMOI members who were outside the prison to guide them in the struggle against Shah’s dictatorship. In these messages, he reminds his comrades that the circumstances are harsh and they should have no illusion that the Shah’s regime will show no mercy and will increase its pressure and repression against freedom fighters. We must tread a lengthy path, Badizadegan notes, and the struggle for freedom demands people who are ready to pay the heavy price.
He was perfectly aware that his own fate would be death at the hands of Shah’s executioners.
In the court martial where he was tried, he said to the general that led the trial, “The prosecutor and the judge must be objective in their actions, which you are not because the portrait of the Shah hangs above your head. Your task is to defend the Shah. We are fighting him. The outcome of this trial has been determined before it even began.”
His family saw him for the last time after one of the court sessions. “They pushed him into the bus while his hands were tied behind his back. When the bus passed us by, he pushed the curtain aside and smiled at us. His lips formed the word ‘execution’ several times,” recounts Badizadegan’s younger sister Shahin, who is now a member of the MEK’s Central Council.
The Shah regime executed Asghar Badizadegan on May 5, 1971, along with his fellow MEK co-founders Mohammad Hanifnejad and Saeid Mohsen because they had dared to desire freedom for their people. But while he has been gone for more than four decades, Badizadegan’s memory lives on and the organization he founded continues to thrive in the struggle for freedom.