The Iranian Mujahedin or the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) is the principle opposition group to the Iranian regime. The PMOI has been struggling to establish freedom and democracy in Iran for the past 51 years. The PMOI was founded in 1965 by three Muslim university graduates and sought to replace the Shah’s dictatorship with a representative government that respects human rights. Several members of the PMOI were arrested and executed during shah dictatorship for the efforts to bring freedom and democracy to Iran.
After the revolution in 1979 they continued to advocate freedom and democracy and opposed the new dictatorship under the name of Islam. The PMOI believes that true Islam is religion of peace and compassion. It respects individual freedoms and consider elections and public suffrage as the sole indicator of political legitimacy. The PMOI believes that democracy and freedom are the hallmarks and guarantors of genuine social progress.
National Council of Resistance of Iran
PMOI is the principle member of the coalition of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The NCRI is a coalition of democratic Iranian political groups and personalities. It encompasses all political tendencies in Iran as well as representatives of religious and ethnic minorities. NCRI is the democratic alternative to the current regime in Iran.
In short, it believes and works to achieve a pluralistic system which would represent the Iranian society as a whole with all its diversity. The NCRI platform includes among others free election, gender equality, abolition of all discrimination against national and religious minorities, separation of religion and state and abolition of death penalty.
President-elect of the NCRI
The president-elect of the NCRI is Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. Two of her sisters and her sister in law have been executed in their struggle for freedom in Iran and his brother in law was assassinated in Geneva by terrorist dispatched by the Iranian regime in 1990. She is recognized worldwide as the lead voice on human rights situation in Ian and the need for democratic change in Iran. In this capacity, she is directing the campaign on the international scene, leading a worldwide effort to expose human rights violations in Iran. As a woman and a Muslim, she provides an important counterpoint to the distorted interpretation of Islam and religion presented by the Iranian regime and other extremist, in particular their misogynist outlook. Under Rajavi’s guidance, women assumed senior position of responsibility in political in international within the rank of the Resistance. Women make more than half the members of NCRI.
Victims of repression
The PMOI is prime victim if human rights violations in Iran. Over the past three decades 120,000 of its members and supporters have been executed simply for their cry for freedom. Dozens have been assassinated abroad. In summer of 1988 alone some 30,000 political prisoners, overwhelming majority of them from PMOI were massacred in a few months following a decree issued by the then Supreme Leader of the regime Khomeini. They were executed because they remained loyal to the PMOI and refuse to surrender to the demand of the regime to renounce their affiliation with the PMOI. Currently, several members of the organization are on the death row in Iran, for no crime other than remaining steadfast in their support for the PMOI.
PMOI support in Iran
Despite the most brutal suppression, the PMOI remains the most popular political organization in Iran. Its network operate clandestinely in Iran, organizing protest against the regime, gathering information to expose human rights violations in Iran and the Iranian regime’s support for terrorism in the region. The Iranian regime secrete nuclear sites was also exposed by the PMOI through information it obtained from its network in Iran which include individuals within the system.
The PMOI and the coalition of NCRI enjoy widespread international support both in US and Europe. In US they have extensive support in the House of Representatives and the Senate. In addition the most distinguished former senior officials from both Republican and Democratic Party support NCRI and PMOI in their struggle for freedom. The same is also true in Europe, when members of parliament in various countries have expressed support for the organizations.
The NCRI has offices in Washington D.C., UK, France, Germany, Nordic countries, Italy and etc.
After the start of mass executions in Iran in 1981, many of its members and supporters were forced to leave the country. They went to many different European and North American countries. In 1986 the PMOI went to Iraq and set up its base there where thousands joined them from across the border in Iran. There, they built camp Ashraf through their own toil. They gradually transformed the camp from a dry desolate desert in to a fully-featured self-sufficient city with, parks, streets, factories, a library, museum, university, accommodation, a power plant and water pumping station.
During their stay in Iraq camp Ashraf residents lived there in peace and harmony with the local Iraqi population. Camp Ashraf grew up to become the symbol of hope for freedom in Iran and the manifestation of the Iranian people’s will to live in a secular, democratic, and nuclear-free country.
In 2003, after the US invaded Iraq, Camp Ashraf residents delivered their arms – their only means to defend themselves – to the US army and in exchange the US government pledged to protect them. In 2004, the residents were recognized as “Protected Persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention and they lived under protection of US Army until 2009, when the US government handed over the security of the camp to Iraqi government under Nouri al-Maliki, who had deep ties and alliance with the Iranian regime.
Deadly attack on PMOI members in Iraq
At the behest of Tehran, Maliki sealed off the camp, prohibiting visits from family members, lawyers, NGOs or politicians. He then supervised a series of orchestrated attacks on the defenseless civilian residents of Camp Ashraf and later when they were forced to move to another former US camp called Liberty, they were target of further missile attack. As a result of heavily armed troops in Iraqi combat gear attacking the unarmed residents repeatedly in Camp Ashraf and missile attacks on Camp Liberty, over 141 were killed and 1,400 seriously injured over the course of the past 7 years. A constant siege of the camp with a blockade on medicines and vital medical aid led to a further 27 deaths.
The Iraqi government under Nouri-al Maliki also conducted a campaign of psychological torture against the Ashraf residents, surrounding the camp with gigantic banks of industrial loudspeakers through which they broadcast paralyzing cacophonies of foul abuse and threats for months on end.
Failure to annihilate the PMOI
As far as the mullahs are concerned they wanted to eliminate all PMOI members or to make them give up and surrender.
Despite all the hardships and sufferings during all these years, PMOI members have never surrendered because their goal was freedom of their country and their people. They have sacrificed everything for this goal. Even in the course of relocation to outside Iraq, the Iranian regime through its proxies resorted to all means to prevent the relocation with the objective of either killing or forcing them to surrender. But it failed.
Relocation outside Iraq
Under supervision of the UNHCR and direct involvement of the US Government all PMOI members residing in Ashraf and Camp Liberty were relocated to European countries such as UK, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and a large number of them also in Albania. The first group of the PMOI members came to Albania following a decision by the then Prime Minister Sali Berisha and was continued by Prime Minister Edi Rama. Thus, all major political party fully support this project.
The successful relocation certainly open a new chapter for the Iranian Resistance and people in their struggle to bring freedom and democracy to Iran.