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Iran Revolution’s Persistence Brings a Criminal, Parviz Sabeti, to Spotlight 

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Iran’s ongoing nationwide uprising has demonstrated the perspective of a bright future of freedom and democracy. Seeing their demise on the horizon, Iran’s ruling clerics cling to anything, like a drowning man, to save their grip on power.  

This includes the widespread campaign of whitewashing the deposed monarchy and its criminals. Hence, the revolution in the making has brought some of these criminals to the spotlight, including Parviz Sabeti.  

Iranian people have demonstrated their will to achieve a democracy after over a century of dictatorship by chanting the slogan “Down with the oppressor, be it Shah or [Supreme] Leader.”  

Yet, in a bid to detract the uprising from its main course, Tehran and some other beneficiaries have been trying to resuscitate the Pahlavi dictatorship by promoting Shah’s son, Reza Pahlavi, in rather perverted ways.  

On February 11, after a pathetic campaign of deceit to gather Iranians in Los Angeles, including many who oppose the return of the monarchy, a pro-Pahlavi protest was formed. This protest was organized by an organization known as the “LA Protests,” which described itself as an organizer without any political affiliation to any movement. Therefore, Iranians agreed to participate in this demonstration which was supposed to be in solidarity with the Iranian people on the anniversary of the 1979 anti-monarchial revolution. But as soon as the crowd gathered, the organization dedicated the podium to Pahlavi’s supporters while showing large banners of Reza Pahlavi and his ousted Father. As a result, many Iranians left this demonstration.  

Parviz Sabeti
Parviz Sabeti

Sabeti, a notorious torturer and head of the third division of Shah’s SAVAK security apparatus, was pictured after decades of being in the shadows. His presence also prompted the monarchists to speak of “reviving” the notorious SAVAK.  

This pathetic movement and calls for resuscitating a murderous organization, with Sabeti as its figure, was once again reiterated by Pahlavi’s supporters in a protest they held simultaneous with the Munich Security Conference on February 19.  

The remnants of the deposed former dictator of Iran carried a large picture of Sabeti. Atop the poster of Sabeti was written, “Nightmare of future terrorists,” referencing Sabeti’s statement in 1978 that SAVAK should not be dissolved; otherwise, there would be havoc in the country. 

Sabeti Savak min

The Intelligence and Security Organization of the Country, AKA by its Persian abbreviation of SAVAK, was founded on March 20, 1957, as Shah’s secret police. SAVAK was Shah’s security “achievement” following the 1953 coup against the nationalist government of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh. While torture, oppression, and secret police were commonplace before SAVAK’s creation, even under Shah’s father, Reza Khan, the emergence of SAVAK institutionalized and organized torture and oppression in Iran.  

On October 22, 1976, Mike Wallace, then the host of the CBS 60 Minutes program, interviewed Shah, asking questions about SAVAK. Shah admitted that his secret police were spying on Iranian students abroad.  

“Wallace: We turned to the Shah’s secret police force, his F.B.I. and C.I.A. combined. They are called SAVAK, and they have a reputation for brutality. He acknowledged that he has SAVAK agents on duty in the United States. And they are there for the purpose of checking up on Iranian students?” 

The Shah of Iran and SAVAK (1976) | 60 Minutes Archive

Shah responded: “Checking up on anybody who becomes affiliated with circles, organizations hostile to my country, which is the role of any intelligence organization.”  

Wallace also mentioned Sabeti’s name and how he criticized the FBI and CIA for not cooperating enough with SAVAK to survey and deal with dissidents abroad.  

In his then-bombshell interview with Wallace, Shah also approves of torture. When the interviewer speaks of “physical and psychological torture,” Shah first tries to deny any form of physical torture but later says: “not anymore.”  

Hossein Fardoost
Hossein Fardoost

It is worth noting that soon after the 1979 revolution, remnants of SAVAK-such as General Fardoost– helped the clerical regime to form its oppressive apparatus, such as the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) intelligence. Mohsen Rezaee, then IRGC’s commander-in-chief, acknowledged how they used SAVAK’S experience and tactics to crack down on dissidents Sabeti had a close relationship with Hossein Fardoost and Amir Abbas Hovaida and provided them with regular news and reports about the performance and activities of the Third General Directorate of SAVAK. 

SAVAK was the most abhorrent organization of Pahlavi’s dictatorship and Shah’s most effective tool of repression and surveillance to control Iran’s restive society. The entity’s mistreatment of dissidents, including those affiliated with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and the Organization of Iranian People’s Fedai Guerrillas, increased SAVAK’s disrepute in society.  

Apolo a torture instrument invented by SAVAK
Apolo a torture instrument invented by SAVAK
Below is the interview of Mike Wallace of CBS 60 Minutes with Raji Samghabadi, a renowned Iranian journalist. Samghabadi’s brother was severely tortured. Mr. Samghabadi was later arrested during Khomeini’s era and had to flee the country.

SAVAK’s brutal tortures and countless crimes even caused some regime insiders to consider this organization one of the reasons people hated Shah and his regime.  

International human rights organizations like Amnesty International repeatedly condemned SAVAK’s human rights abuses many times. In 1975, Martin Ennals, then Amnesty International’s Secretary General, described Shah’s human rights record as the “worst globally.”

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Martin Ennals Introduction on AI’s 1975 report

Thus, people stormed SAVAK’s headquarters and offices during the 1979 anti-monarchic revolution and punished its agents.  

The confessions of some SAVAK torturers, captured by people and broadcasted on television, raised public awareness about SAVAK’s crimes. One of these individuals, Bahman Naderipour, aka Tehrani, disclosed that at the end of April 1976, he and several interrogators took nine political prisoners, including two MEK and 7 OIPFG members, to Evin hills and killed them. But the regime announced that these nine people were planning to escape and were killed by the prison guards; Because the Shah was afraid of their activities in prison and, on the other hand, he could not execute them publicly. This brutal execution was planned and supervised by Sabeti.  

Who was Parviz Sabeti 

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Parviz Sabeti news conference on SAVAK report.

Born in 1936, Sabeti first joined SAVAK as a security analyst. He soon rose through the organization’s ranks due to his brutality. He became SAVAK’s chief station in Tehran and later the head of the organization’s third division, the Division of Surveillance and Pursuit, which was charged with hunting down political dissidents. 

Sabeti was responsible for countless crimes and personally tortured many dissidents, including Mehdi Rezaee, a 19-year-old MEK member, who was hanged. In his defense during the trial, Rezaee spoke of several forms of torture Sabeti and his colleagues used, including constant flogging and urinating in his mouth.   

mehdi rezaee court shah iran
Mehdi Rezaee, a 19-year-old MEK member
Parviz Sabeti if Savak close
Sabeti’s statement published in the newspaper, in 1978 that SAVAK should not be dissolved.

Sabeti fled Iran months before the 1979 anti-monarchial revolution. It is worth noting that Sabeti said in 1978 that if “SAVAK dismantles, the terrorist will reign Iran,” referring to the leading role of the PMOI and Fedai’s impact on society, whom the Shah described as terrorists.  

Sabeti fled Iran months before the revolution and continued a secret life in the United States while acting as Reza Pahlavi’s security advisor. Faramarz Dadras, an Iranian-Armenian researcher close to Shah’s last Prime Minister, Shahpur Bakhtiar, confirmed this fact in 2012. “Sabeti is in relation with the American far-right movements and acts as Reza Pahlavi’s security advisor,” he said, according to the Lajvar website.   

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Sabeti’s public presence only reveals the true colors of a movement whose leader, Reza Pahlavi, has constantly spoken of his relationship with the IRGC and other military forces. In other words, his presence once again proved that when it comes to human rights abuses, the ruling theocracy and Shah’s dictatorship go hand in hand.  

Besides, as a part of its propaganda, Tehran used Sabeti’s presence in protest to tarnish the image of the current revolution in the making by tying Iranian people to the decayed Pahlavi dictatorship and the criminals who represented it. 

On December 21, when a so-called “coalition” between Pahlavi and some Iranian celebrities and former journalists and officials of the regime’s reformists faction was a hot topic, the state-run Mashreq News wrote a comprehensive report about who or what is the real alternative to the regime.  

Referring to the trip of former US Vice President Mike Pence to Ashraf 3 in Albania and meeting with NCRI President-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the state-run outlet wrote: “In his statements, the highest-ranking American official in 2016-2020 stroke a deadly blow at the monarchists and supporters of Reza Diba [Pahlavi] and said: ‘The Tehran regime wants to deceive the world into believing that the demonstrators in Iran want to return to Shah’s dictatorship. But I want to assure you that we will not be fooled by their lies. So let me ask all of you, right here, for the whole world to hear: Do the people of Iran want to replace one dictatorship with another [the Shah]?” 

This tactic of regime labeling of the opposition to monarchist failed, as over ten thousand Iranians and MEK supporters in Paris on February 12 echoed the voice of their risen compatriots in rejecting any form of tyranny by chanting, “Down with the oppressor, be it the Shah or the mullahs.”

This fact has been emphasized by the Iranian Resistance and many renowned politicians in different rallies and conferences organized by Iranian Resistance in recent days, sending this clear message to the world that Iranians do not want a dictatorship; they want to achieve freedom, democracy, and secularism.  This is what the free world should embrace, support, and promote.  

Iranian Grand rally in Paris rejects any form of dictatorship- Feb 12, 2023