Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, September 11, 2020—In recent years, the regime of Iran has done everything it can to tarnish the image of the Iranian opposition the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and prove to the world that there is no alternative to the rule of the mullahs in Iran. Key among the regime’s efforts is a narrative that the youth in Iran do not support the MEK and are content with the medieval tyranny that has been suppressing them for more than four decades.
But an online event that celebrated the 55th founding anniversary of the MEK painted a totally different picture, one that showed that the youth of Iran are ready for change and are increasingly gravitating toward the one movement that has consistently remained true to the goal of freedom and democracy in Iran. At the online conference, which was attended by representatives of more than 300 Iranian associations around the world, many youths expressed their trust and support for the MEK as the only viable alternative to the mullahs. And they spoke for many others in Iran who don’t have the privilege to express their thoughts freely without fear of persecution by the regime.
Soulmaz Abu Ali, PhD in International Relations and member of the Iranian Community in Virginia, and Hanifeh Khayeri, Researcher and member of the Iran Human Rights Foundation from Sweden, both longtime supporters of the MEK, explained how they got to know the organization and why it is a source of hope and inspiration for many youths.
“I left Iran when I was very young. We had to leave the country because my parents were supporters of the MEK,” Soulmaz. She explained that her interest in the MEK was rooted in their deep belief in ideals such as gender equality. She also expressed support for the democratic Islam of the MEK, which is totally different from the fundamentalist views of the mullahs.
“They believe in free elections, freedom of women, abolishment of the death penalty, and a non-nuclear Iran,” she added.
“The MEK have put aside everything for the freedom of the Iranian people. The sacrifices they have made, the pressure they have endured, all this persistence is due to their faith to freedom in Iran. Is there anyone else who is so devoted?” Soulmaz continued.
Hanifeh, whose mother was murdered by the Iranian regime in 1988, when she was four years, old said: “It is true that I know the organization since I was a child, but this is not the reason for my activity. I went to know about this resistance myself and I consciously chose to support and help this organization. I support the MEK because it has values that are found nowhere else. They have all gathered for a common cause: freedom for the people of Iran. I haven’t seen similar potential anywhere else in the world. We are all on the same path. Iran is one of several dictatorships in the world. But the Iranian people have an organized opposition movement that has stood for 55 years and has only grown stronger and firmer in their ideals.”
Hanifeh Khayeri, Researcher, Iran Human Rights Foundation from Sweden, and a supporter of the MEK. Her mother was killed by the Iranian regime while she was four years old.
Ali Fatemi, a CAD/CAM designer for dentistry and the representative of the Iranian Youth Association in Luxemburg, stressed that the people of Iran draw strength and hope from the MEK. Ali left Iran shortly after the 2009 post-election nationwide uprising in Iran, which was brutally suppressed by the regime.
“I want to testify that after I left Iran I found that the only voice outside the country that cries out tirelessly for the realization of the rights of the Iranian people is the voice of the MEK and the Iranian Resistance. Anyone who is serious in bringing freedom to Iran will find themselves at the sides of the MEK.” Ali expressed.
In his remarks, Ehsan Ayatollahi, an insurance expert and the representative of the Human Rights Association for Victims of Fundamentalism from Austria, said “today, the regime’s front organizations that pose as oppositions try to attack the MEK’s ideology and interpretation of Islam. But there is no other movement that believes in secularism as much as the MEK.”
Roxanna Sadeghpour, 21-year-old student from Australia who spoke at the event, was not born in Iran. “But my heart is with my people and I wish to see them one day,” she said in her remarks. She stressed that the MEK has sacrificed all it has to bring freedom to their people. “I know that the MEK fights for freedom and human values and I’m honored as an Iranian that we have an organization like the MEK, and this ensures that we will one day have freedom in our country.”
An MEK, demonstration in Paris in 2017. Many young Iranians are among its supporters.
Ghazal Afshar, interpreter and member of the Iranian Specialists and Graduates in Italy, whose father was killed by the regime when she was very young, said she was inspired by the many people like her parents, who gave up their personal lives to fight for the rights of their people. “They made their choice because they wanted millions of children to have the same opportunity that I have,” said Ghazal.
“I became a supporter of the MEK after studying their history and working with them. I was especially inspired by their perspective on the role of women,” said Sana Sotudeh, Bachelor of Social Work and representative of the Youth Uprising Support Association in Norway. She added that in MEK, women are in leadership roles and it has proven that women have the power to lead and will change the world.
Raha Heshmatikhah, a student from the Netherlands and the representative of the Futurist Youth, said she chose to become a supporter of the MEK because she admires their sacrifice. “They have chosen to give up everything they have to make sure everyone in Iran will have the opportunity to live in freedom. I also admire their justice. They believe in equality. They have undergone many difficulties, but they have never wavered in their sincerity. The name of the MEK will forever remain in Iran as an example of freedom,” she added.
The regime’s growing fear for MEK’s internal influence on youths
Meanwhile, inside Iran, regime officials, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, continue to express their fear of MEK’s growing influence and support. In a video conference with a group of paramilitary Basij forces on May 17, Khamenei expressed his concern regarding MEK’s growing support among the youths across the country. Khamenei who called for the assembly of a “young and Hezbollahi” government implicitly acknowledged why Iran’s elite students are rebelling against his regime and joining the growing movement of rejecting the mullahs’ rule in its entirety.
“You should not allow the enemy take advantage of your protests. They are waiting to use any such opportunity… The enemy will portray your protests over whatever subject as dissent against the state, and provide such an image to their viewers… Be careful of those who take advantage of these protests to pursue their objectives against the state,” Khamenei added in a reference to the high popularity of the MEK among the Iranian society.
Nearly hundred cities across Iran witnessed activities of the Iranian Resistance Units, an internal network of the MEK during the whole month of July.
The MEK’s internal supports that today is symbolized in the Iranian Resistance Units, is expanding while regime’s fear for new wave of major protests rises. The MEK Resistance Units, that is mainly created by younger generation, is multiplying its daily activities across the country despite the regime’s growing repression and crackdown on dissent, especially on supporters of the MEK. The Resistance Units echo the Iranian people’s yearning for freedom, democracy, popular sovereignty, and to the theocratic regime ruling Iran.