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Iran: Rouhani is cut from the same cloth as other mullahs, prominent dissident

NCRI – An Iranian dissident has underscored that the Iranian regime’s President Hassan Rouhani is no different to other fundamentalist mullahs when it comes to human rights abuses of Iranian citizens.

Behzad Naziri, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), was a journalist for the major French news agency, AFP, when he was arrested for supporting the main Iranian opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, or Mujahedin-e Khalq, MEK) in 1982.

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“I was arrested and imprisoned shortly after the execution of my sister. This is a photo of me and my sister Giti,” he said in an interview.

While pointing to a joint childhood picture of him and Giti, Mr. Naziri said: “Giti was a journalist for Iran’s national television and she was a professional camerawoman and photographer. She was an artist: a painter, a musician, and she played the guitar very well. She was executed at the age of 24 because she was a women’s rights activists and a supporter of the Resistance movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.”

“After Giti’s execution, the Revolutionary Guards, who are the regime’s suppressive forces, looked for me, and because I was a journalist for the AFP, I was arrested and sentenced to eight years of imprisonment.”

“I was tortured from the very first day. Just being in Khomeini’s prisons was a form of torture in itself; because torture is not only a means to extract information from prisoners, but it is also a tool to break the prisoner and make him forget his motivations.”

“The steadfastness of the members and supporters of the PMOI in Khomeini’s prisons greatly affected me.” 

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“After three years of imprisonment, in an exceptional opportunity when I went for a surgery which was not possible to be carried out in prison, I escaped from the prison and my father was arrested in my place and he spent the five remaining years of my sentence in prison in my place.”

“In this book of the martyrs there is a photograph of my sister who was present as a television journalist in the frontline in the Iran-Iraq war.”

While going through the book “Fallen for Freedom” that contains a partial list of 120,000 victims of political executions in Iran under clerical rule, Mr. Naziri said: “As you see, there were many executions in those years, because the regime wanted to remove from the scene a resolute generation that was protesting against the religious dictatorship.”

“They were from different strata of society: workers, employees, school students, university students, doctors, athletes, merchants and many others. Many of them were my cellmates whose existence I still feel inside me,” he added with a conspicuous agony. 

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“The peak of these executions was in August 1988 and the following months when due to a fatwa by Khomeini, some 30,000 people were executed in prison simply for sympathizing with the PMOI. Some of them were in the middle of serving their sentence; others had finished their prison sentence. Khomeini established a three-man commission who decided on the fate of each person on the basis of this one question of whether you are still a supporter of the PMOI; yes or no?”

Mr. Naziri has been an active human rights defender in various international forums and bodies over the years. His writings about his prison ordeal have been published in major international dailies including The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune:

“But as you know, in Iran executions are not only a form of retribution; rather they are a tool to frighten the population. That is why that following the 2009 and 2010 uprisings in Iran, there was a brutal suppression and the regime executed PMOI supporters such as Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Haj Aghai. Or for example last year it executed Gholamreza Khosravi simply for making a financial contribution to the Resistance’s satellite television channel.”

“There have always been public executions in Iran, including members of the PMOI who were hanged under bridges and other prisoners who in recent days are hanged in busy public squares from construction cranes. This is all to overcome the explosive state of Iranian society, in particular the youths who are fed up with this regime.”

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When asked about what he makes up about Rouhani and some claims that he might be a “reformer” Mr. Naziri said: “Rouhani, who for the past 30 years has been a key security official of the regime, is directly responsible for these murders; especially since his Justice Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi was a member of the three-man ‘death commission’ during the 1988 massacre which Amnesty International has described as a crime against humanity.”