Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013
Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Religious fascism in Iran

It is time for the international community to recognise the struggle of the Iranian opposition and support it against the abuses of Tehran’s tyrannical mullahs, writes Hassan Tawalbeh<

Al-Ahram Weekly

With every passing day the true face of Iran’s mullahs reveals itself more and more to global public opinion. It is a terrorist face that belies its claims against the Iranian opposition. This is undoubtedly why Canada has just joined the train of Western nations in removing the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) from its list of terrorist organisations while, moreover, adding the Iranian Quds (Jerusalem) Force to this list. Maryam Rajavi, president elect of the National Council of the Iranian Resistance, announced that in making the above changes to its list of terrorist organisations Canada has taken a step in the right direction and delivered a stinging blow to the religious fascism that is ruling Iran. She lauded the Canadian government and, specifically, the governor-general and the ministers of security and foreign affairs for having taken this decision.

The categorisation of the legitimate and organised Iranian opposition had been one of the bargaining chips in the negotiations with the regime in Tehran. Yet, the terrorist label should never have been affixed to any quarter of the opposition in the first place especially since this gave the regime a pretext for repressing and killing Iranian citizens and herding members of the MEK into prison camps. Branding the MEK as a terrorist organisation also worked to derail the fight against terrorism. When the most important movement opposed to terrorism and extremism is, itself, branded as terrorist, it only encourages the real terrorists and the purveyors of terrorism and extremism — which is to say the ruling dictatorship in Iran — to go to further extremes. The regime of the mullahs is a peril for international peace and security, especially in the Middle East where it is driving more and more men, women and children into the killing fields. Rajavi said: “Now is the time for governments around the world to relinquish the policy of bargaining and to join those that recognise the Iranian resistance and the legitimacy of its drive to topple the regime of the mullahs and to bring democracy to Iran. They should also support efforts to guarantee the rights and to protect the lives of the MEK inhabitants of the Ashraf and Liberty camps, the latter of which should be designated a refugee camp.”

Pressures are building against Iran on other fronts. Last week, the UN General Assembly condemned Iran for widespread human rights abuses. The hope is that the international community will now follow through on this resolution via the Security Council and the International Criminal Court that should impose comprehensive sanctions on the Iranian regime and prosecute its leaders for their crimes. This is a regime that ignored 58 previous international resolutions, that refuses entry into Iran to the UN special rapporteur on human rights, and that has executed 120,000 political prisoners among its large array of systematic violations of all international human rights standards. Rajavi said: “At a time when the regime of the mullahs is escalating its murder of political prisoners through torture, abducting and killing political activists, collective death sentences, random detentions and exacting slow deaths of detainees by depriving them of necessary healthcare, condemnations are not enough. The international community must isolate this regime and bring it to account.” The Iranian opposition leader went on to urge the Iranian people who long for freedom, and supporters of the Iranian resistance around the world, to intensify the campaign to defend human rights in Iran, to defend prisoners against mass executions, and to oppose the oppression of women and youth in Iran. She also warned all parties that turn a blind eye to the human rights violations in Iran and oppose international censure that the regime of the mullahs is fated to fall and that it is futile to place any political or economic stock in that regime.

Although the General Assembly resolution covered only part of the mullahs’ crimes, it calls attention to their antipathy towards all international human rights principles. The endless list of that regime’s abuses includes: systematic torture, extrajudicial executions, secret mass executions, including the murder of children and minors, the prohibition of peaceful assembly and free expression of opinion and belief, surveillance of electronic mail and Internet communications, routine invasion of privacy, jamming satellite television channels, targeted attacks against lawyers and journalists, rampant gender discrimination, persecution of ethnic and national minorities, repression of non-Shia sects and other religions, arbitrary detentions, abuse of prisoner rights, and forced disappearances.

A recent illustration of the mullahs’ treatment of the Iranian people is to be found in the farce that passed as a trial of three political detainees: Ali Nasser Sodagari (65), his wife Tahereh Pour-Rostam and their son Pouyan Sodagari (24). The court sentenced the parents to five years in prison plus another 10 years in exile in Zahedan and the son to six years in prison plus another six years in exile to Kerman. Their “crime” was that they had been MEK members from Camp Liberty who had been arrested in May 2011. They had been subjected to physical and psychological torture to force them into false confessions.

Another telling example of Iranian justice is that of Hani Yazarlou, another political prisoner who was sentenced to a year in prison and 10 years of exile. Since 2007, his wife, Nazla Doshti and their sons Hamed (31), a top aeronautics engineer, and Hod (25) have been the victims of constant house raids, arrests and torture in Iranian prisons for merely having tried to visit or contact their relatives in the Ashraf camp.

Rajavi welcomed the proposal of the Bahraini foreign minister to hold a Friends of the Iranian People conference. She said: “At a time in which the ruling order of religious fascism in Iran is waging a brutal war against the Iranian people and a war of aggression against the states and peoples of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Bahrain, Yemen and other countries, this conference comes as a necessary step to stand up against that regime in the interests of promoting the cause of peace, friendship and brotherhood in the region. That regime, which puts all its might behind leading and directing the acts of murder against the Syrian people, stands alongside the tyrant in Syria and furnishes him with money and arms. It also imperils peace and tranquillity in the rest of the region, especially in neighbouring countries, through its determination to obtain a nuclear bomb.”

Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa had underscored the need for a “conference of the friends of the oppressed Iranian people” in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. His deputy foreign minister, Ambassador Ahmed Al-Amer, stated: “I believe that the time has come to look at how the Iranian people are suffering from the suppression of their liberties and the persecution inflicted upon them by the regime.” In his opinion, the purpose of that regime’s intervention in other countries of the region is “to cover up the catastrophic conditions in Iran and the plight of our friends, the Iranian people, from tragically deteriorating economic conditions. Rajavi added that the Iranian people and the Iranian resistance support this conference to the best of their ability. Undoubtedly, too, she said, the conference is welcomed by various parliamentary groups, public figures and international rights advocates around the world who, throughout the past decades, have supported the Iranian people and the Iranian resistance in their struggle to overthrow the ruling order of religious fascism in Iran and to realise democracy.

The writer is a Jordanian author and head of the Arab Media and Writers Committee.

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