Such cruelties, intimidations and persecutions are continuing till date, while Iranians are increasingly becoming vocal against the Islamist regime and are demanding democracy in the country.
In March 2021, human rights defender Narges Mohammadi talked Radio Free Europe, Iranian prison authorities use sexual abuse and harassment systematically to break the will of incarcerated women – and that she herself has been a victim.
She said, fear, shame, and a culture of avoidance may keep many victims of such practices from speaking out.
But Narges and other former detainees in Iran shared their experiences during a May 27 group discussion on the Clubhouse social-media app – an online gathering that also was joined by the exiled Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.
“I felt like a sheep who was thrown into the car”, Narges Mohammadi told the group about her forceful 2019 transfer from a prison in Tehran to the northwestern city of Zanjan.
She said a prison director held her lower body, pushed her into a car, and sat on her legs – then asked her to light a cigarette for him.
“I can’t diminish this to a physical assault”, Narges told the group. “They [target] prisoners based on their gender”.
She said she also learned during her time in jail about other female prisoners being harassed and sexually abused – including one woman who suffered from serious mental problems after being groped by her interrogator.
Narges said, I have to ask Raisi [Ebrahim Raisi, president of Iran, who is known as Butcher of Tehran] himself if I was required to light the cigarette for the prison chief. Did I have to smoke with the head of your prison?
Here I would like to say, Ebrahim Raisi is an evil – a Satan in man’s clothing. He has murdered 30,000 innocent people during the 1988 genocide in Iran. Raisi is behind most of the notorious acts inside Iranian prisons as well as Kangaroo courts.
Today’s Iran, with Ali Khameini as the Supreme Leader and Ebrahim Raisi as the president will continue posing gravest threat to the Iranian people and the international community. Under the current situation in Iran, we have interview Ali Safavi, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Here are the excerpts:
What is the expected role of Iranian regime following US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the country going into the grips of the Taliban?
Ali Safavi: The Iranian regime has consistently been described as the foremost sponsor of international terrorism. It thrives on warmongering and creating crises in the region as a means to cover up its domestic weaknesses. Exporting terrorism and fundamentalism is a key pillar for the regime’s survival strategy, which explains its destructive meddling in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, among other places. In Afghanistan, too, the regime will try exploit every available opportunity to spread its brand of extremism while fuelling chaos and instability.
There are media reports centering a very chaotic situation in Iran due to the pandemic as well as vaccination of the Iranian people. Additionally there also are allegations of acute scarcity of water. Under such circumstances there are protests in several parts of the country, while the regime has been applying harsh intimidation and persecution tactics on the innocent civilians. Can you please elaborately describe these issues?
Ali Safavi: The priority for the regime is not to meet the Iranian people’s needs, but to ensure its own survival through domestic suppression and exporting terrorism abroad. Over the last four decades, the regime has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on suppression of dissent, funding, and arming terrorist proxies across the region, acquiring nuclear weapons, and the development of illicit ballistic missiles. As a result, the Iranian people are suffering. That is why they are chanting, “Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon, my life only for Iran,” or “Leave Syria, think about us instead.” As a result of the regime’s endemic and systematic corruption, the wealth gap is at an all-time high and poverty is rampant. According to the regime’s own statistics, one in three people in Iran is now living under absolute poverty. The country’s infrastructure has also gone through decades of acute under-investment, in addition to plundering policies by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Therefore, scarcity of water and electricity are now major challenges for the Iranian people and the regime has no solutions for it. On top of it all, the regime has not only mismanaged the coronavirus pandemic, but it has also actually used it as a “blessing,” in the words of its Supreme Leader, in order to prevent protests. This policy of causing mass casualties by deliberately spreading the virus and preventing the import of vaccines has caused enormous suffering for the Iranian people. According to the most conservative figures, more than 400,000 have lost their lives. In this situation, more protests are looming on the horizon and the regime is afraid.
Current president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, who is infamous as ‘Butcher of Tehran’ or ‘Mass Murderer’ is reportedly an half-educated person with only educational background up to elementary level is a confidante of Supreme Leader Ali Khameini, while Raisi is supportive of Ayatollah Ruhuolla Khomeini’s policy of mass-murder, numerous forms of cruelties on the citizen and imposition of a harsh Sharia rule and suppress human rights, right of girls and women and state-sponsored atrocities. What type of Iran the international community can expect with Ebrahim Raisi as it’s president?
Ali Safavi: In 1988, the regime executed over 30,000 political prisoners in the span of a few months. Most of them were members of the main opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). The 1988 massacre was carried out under the explicit orders of Khomeini. Many pre-eminent international humanitarian law experts have classified the 1988 massacre as a crime against humanity and genocide. Raisi, at the time, was a key member of the Death Committees responsible for executing that order. In addition to that, Raisi spent years as the head of the regime’s judiciary, which is responsible for executing and torturing protesters and activists, including thousands of demonstrators detained during the November 2019 uprising. By installing Raisi as president, the regime wants to increase its human rights violations and crack down on all dissent. But it is too little too late. The international community must not shake the hands of a mass murderer because that will further embolden the regime to commit its atrocious crimes with impunity.
Following the Islamic revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his successors have been promoting state policy of confronting the US in particular as well as the Western nations, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Iranian regime has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars towards propaganda against their “enemy” nations. Iranian cultural centers are continuing covert operations of regime’s propaganda strategies. Does the Iranian populace, in Iran and abroad support or accept such actions of the regime?
Ali Safavi: Absolutely not. The Iranian people, both inside and outside Iran, have condemned the regime’s export of terror and warmongering at every turn. During their mass nationwide demonstrations, they chant, “Leave Syria, think about us instead.” They frequently condemn the regime’s adventurism because it does not serve the national interests of Iran and serves only to divert the people’s wealth to terrorism. The regime even uses its embassies as centers of espionage and terrorism. Earlier this year, one of its diplomats was convicted in Belgium for trying to bomb the MEK’s rally in Paris in 2018. Many of its diplomats have been expelled in various countries, including Albania, for involvement in terrorism. So, as the Iranian people and the Iranian Resistance have consistently demanded, the regime’s centers of espionage and terrorism, including its embassies, must be closed. And, instead of appeasing this terrorist regime, the international community should adopt a firm policy and hold it accountable for its crimes.
To my knowledge, under the directives of the Iranian ruling mullah elites, it’s intelligence agency as well as Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps are continuing terrorist activities through the world, including the Middle East. Moreover there are dangerous instances of assassinations of Jews, Israelis, Americans, Westerners and even anti-regime pro-democracy individuals. Several officials and even diplomats of Iran were arrested and charged for their direct involvement in terrorist acts and active role as secret assassin or patrons of secret assassinations. Can you please further enlighten us on these issues with some specific references to such cases?
Ali Safavi: Most recently, the regime has tried to bomb opposition rallies in Albania and France in 2018. The terror plots involved an “ambassador” in the case of Albania and a serving “diplomat” in the case of Paris. The ambassador was expelled from Albania. The diplomat, Assadollah Assadi, was convicted of terrorism by a Belgian court in February 2021, after a two year investigation. The case was so convincing that Assadi did not appeal the court’s decision. He is now spending the maximum-allowed sentence of 20 years in a Belgian jail, the first such ruling in Europe’s modern history. Also in 2018, two regime agents were arrested by US authorities and indicted in August of that year for spying on the MEK for the purpose of carrying out terrorist acts against its supporters on US soil. In recent years, the regime’s terror plots have also been uncovered in many European countries, including Denmark and the Netherlands.
Iranian regime is directly funding and patronizing Lebanese Hezbollah, Yemeni Houthis, Palestinian Hamas and few other radical Islamic terrorist entities in the Middle East and the world. Due to such notorious and ferocious actions, Iranian regime has turned Iran into a terror-patron nation, which had resulted in imposition of several sanctions particularly by the United States. But since becoming the president, Joe Biden and his administration are taking steps of granting concession to Iranian mullah regime by lifting sanctions, unfreezing billions of dollars and possibly restarting America’s cooperation with Iran. In my opinion, such actions of Joe Biden and his administration would only further empower Iranian regime in accelerating it’s notoriety throughout the world. Do you think, Biden’s policy towards the Iranian regime would be ever worse than his recent blunders in Afghanistan?
Ali Safavi: Any policy that pursues appeasement with the Iranian regime is bound to fail. Experience has proven that the appeasement fuels the regime’s domestic abuses and regional malfeasance. Instead of doling out concessions to the tyrannical regime, the international community must stand with the Iranian people, who are demanding democratic change, and adopt a firm policy toward the mullahs. Otherwise, the mullahs will exploit a culture of impunity and instil more regional and global instability. That’s exactly what happened during the Obama administration, when the regime took advantage of the lifting of the sanctions and tens of billions of dollars of frozen assets to further suppress the Iranian people, advance its missile and nuclear programs, and destabilize the Middle East region by funding, arming and training its terrorist proxies in the region and beyond.
For centuries, Iranians have had always upheld the culture and spirits of secularism, interfaith harmony and have had never allowed political Islam to emerge as country’s ruling principles. But since the Islamic revolution of Ayatollah Ruhuolla Khomeini, the land of rich culture, heritage, humanity and peace had turned into a land of nightmare and terror. Although Iranian people in Iran have limited access to the international media and are forced to swallow the propaganda of the regime. Under such circumstances, do you think, the future generations of Iran would become brainwashed with jihadist and terrorist mindset?
Ali Safavi: The younger generation of Iranians is eager for democratic change, reflected in one of the most prevalent chants during the various protests since 2019, that “Death to the oppressor, be it the Shah or the Leader (Khamenei).” In other words, Iranians, especially the younger generation are rejecting the dark past and the dreadful present. They are looking to a bright and democratic future. Today, thousands of Resistance Units have sprung up in most cities across the country. They are comprised of young people, who reject the regime’s fundamentalist interpretation of Islam and embrace the MEK’s democratic and tolerant reading. This month, the MEK held its biennial convention where it introduced dozens of young Iranian women ready to take the reigns. Iran’s democratic organized opposition is attracting young people in droves because young Iranians are looking to build a democratic and modern country.
Being a leader of the pro-democracy and anti-mullah regime Iranians, what are your views about Hamas, Lebanese Hezbollah, Yemeni Houthis and other Iranian proxies? At the same time, how do you perceive the State of Israel?
Ali Safavi: The Iranian regime uses its regional proxies to export fundamentalism to consolidate its illegitimate power at home. The existential enemy of the Iranian regime are the Iranian people. The regime is deadly afraid of them. It tries to prop up terrorist proxies across the region to project power. But it is severely weakened at home because the Iranian people are constantly rising up to overthrow the illegitimate regime. In order to preserve peace and stability in the Middle East, the regime’s policies must be firmly confronted. The only answer to preserving peace in the Middle East is to overthrow this terrorist regime. The Iranian Resistance has long endorsed the two-state solution to resolve the Palestinian issue.
Once democracy is restored in Iran, what will be the foreign policy of the government, and will Iran rebrand the name from an Islamic republic to Democratic republic? What will be the policy of the democratic government towards religious minorities, such as Baha’is and shall the Iranian girls and women enjoy full liberty and rights?
Ali Safavi: The President-elect of the NCRI has announced a 10-point plan for the future of Iran. This plan calls for a non-nuclear Iran that is devoid of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. The plan underscores that all Iranians, regardless of gender, religious, creed, nationality or ethnicity will enjoy equal rights. It specifically calls for the equal participation of women in the countries political leadership. It also calls for peace, co-existence, and international and regional cooperation. The plan also calls for the autonomy for and removal of double injustices against Iranian nationalities and ethnicities consistent with the NCRI‘s plan for the autonomy of Iranian Kurdistan.
As Iranian people in Iran are suffering from poverty, economic hardship, unemployment, scarcity of food and water, lack of medical care and vaccination facilities and extreme cruelty of the mullah regime, what is your message for those democracy-seeking masses in the country?
Ali Safavi: As the NCRI’s President-elect, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, has said, it is time for the Iranian people to rise up against the tyrannical regime. The only solution to the people’s myriad of miseries is the overthrow of the regime and replacing it with a democratic, secular and non-nuclear republic. The Iranian Resistance and the Resistance Units inside Iran are prepared and determined to achieve this goal and have made very important strides to this end.
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