From the Behesht Zahra Cemetery in Tehran to the Pearl Cemetery at Ashraf

By Nasrin Faizi

It was February when I was finally released from Prison after some 10 years. During this time, I was only kept behind bars for my political dissent to the mullahs ruling my country. A day after my release, in order to pay my respects to my friends who had been executed by the Iranian regime, I rushed to the Behesht Zahra Cemetery in Tehran.

Yet what I saw before my eyes were broken tombstones, shattered by the repressive regimes’ elements. The regime’s forces had no mercy on them when they were alive, and after their death emptied their hatred and animosity on their lifeless graves.

Today we are once again witnessing the same scenes, yet not in Tehran but at Camp Ashraf, the 26-year home of members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran in Iraq up until 2014. This time it’s the Iranian regime affiliated militia forces in Iraq who are destroying the tombstones of the PMOI’s martyrs in the Pearl Cemetery at Ashraf with bulldozers and loaders.

In conflicts and wars between two countries, even the corpses of the dead are exchanged with respect, yet how is it that the lifeless corpses of PMOI martyrs are not shielded from the strikes and blows and daggers and bullets of the medieval and reactionary ideals of Islamic fundamentalism.

In countries across the world, memorials and statutes are built for national and war heroes and they are respected on every occasion for what they’ve done and the sacrifice they’ve made. They are respected and remembered with wreaths.

Yet the PMOI must bear witness the destruction of their martyrs’ memorials; more agonizing than that is the silence and inaction of human rights organs and the UN. The Pearl Cemetery is a holy site that symbolizes the Iranian people’s 35-year resistance against a fundamental and brutal theocracy.

The Pearl Cemetery hasn’t only been dear to the PMOI members at Camp Liberty and Ashraf, yet it has been a source of inspiration for all the Iranian people, especially the youths.

Prior to the transfer of Camp Ashraf’s protection from US Forces to the Iraqi Government, and the imposition of an all-out inhumane siege against its residents, the residents’ families came in groups from Iran to see their sons and daughters at Ashraf and pay their respects to the martyrs buried at the Pearl Cemetery. Of course upon return to Iran, many of these families were arrested, tortured and even executed on charges of visiting their family members at Ashraf.

So many poems and songs have been created in Iran’s contemporary literature in recognition of the Pearl Cemetery.

The destruction of the Pearl Cemetery is similar to the torching and demolition of historic and holy site by the barbaric raids of the Mongols and Genghis Khan.

The Pearl Cemetery belongs to the Iranian people’s historic struggle for freedom and democracy.

Truly, why is the UN keeping silent vis-à-vis the destruction of historic memorials? Why is it keeping silence against the Mongols and Genghis Khans of our era?

Why is it adding salt to the wounds of the Iranian people’s hearts, giving legitimacy to these cruel acts? The mullahs regime, had in the 70s killed and destroyed, and you kept silent. The result was the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the form of ISIS and Hezbollah or the Shiite militias affiliated to the Iranian regime, which through their ultimate brutality, are destroying temples, mosques and ancient sites.

Today, elements of the Iranian regime such as Ghassem Soleimani and Hadi Ameri and elements of the Quds Force are insulting the ideals and martyrs of a Resistance at the Pearl Cemetery and the UN and US are once again keeping silent. They must learn from the lessons history because there will come a time when their own symbols and values will not be spared by these same forces.

Liberty residents have time and again announced that they are ready to buy the Pearl Cemetery land from the Iraqi Government and go to Ashraf and draw a wall around the cemetery of their martyrs. They will rest in peace until the religious fascism in Iran is overthrown in the near future. Then their corpses will be transferred to Iran, to their homeland, where they will receive the proper burial ceremony they deserve. Without a doubt the perpetrators who destroyed the Pearl Cemetery are hated and abhorred by the Iranian people. Therefore, we say to the UN, US and human rights organs: through you silence and inaction, do not place yourselves alongside those who are cursed and loathed by the Iranian people.

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