Iran Protests and the MEK’s Resistance Units
Resistance Units of the MEK and Iran Protests
During the past week, Iran witnessed one of the most widespread set of protests in its 40-year history. The protests first flared on November 16 because of a fuel price hike, but it soon turned into an uprising demanding regime change.
The protesters are targeting the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and demanding the overthrow of the regime.
Mullah Alireza Adiani, representative of the supreme leader in the regime’s security forces in a speech on Thursday, blamed the main opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) for the protests. He said: “The incidents in the last few days have been much more widespread, much more radical and much more violent than the previous seditions in previous years… in one day alone there were unrests in 165 cities in 25 provinces.”
On Friday, November 22, Ali Fadavi, deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in a speech for security forces compared the extent of the recent protests to the “Karbala 4 Operation”, the largest attack and defeat of the Iranian regime and IRGC during the 8-year war between Iran and Iraq.
“I talked to some IRGC commanders in some of the cities, and in some moments these riots reminded us of Karbala 4 Operation,” Fadavi said.
The regime was caught surprised not only by the extent of the protests but also by how the protesters were organized and prepared for the uprising.
“Based on documents and information, to set the ground for unrest in the country, the enemy had planned and organized for some time, and their mandate was to turn economic issues into social and security issues,” Mullah Alireza Adiani said.
According to the state-run Fars news agency, Hossein Ashtari, Commander of the State Security Forces, said: “Our investigations indicate that instructions coming from counter-revolutionary and the MEK organization was the cause of these events. The country’s security and police institutions will identify these individuals, and God willing, they will be punished for their practices at the right time.”
Over the past two years, the MEK has expanded its “Resistance Units,” and they have been very active in cities across Iran, informing and assisting the public on ways to resist the regime. Their activities include setting fire to large photos of Khamenei and Rouhani in busy districts of Tehran and other cities and destroying other regime symbols, such as Basij and IRGC centers. The units were also active in writing slogans against the regime or hanging photos of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, from bridges in busy districts of Tehran.
“Over the past year, the Resistance Units kept the flames of protests alight all over Iran despite horrendous pressure and persecution by the mullahs’ Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and Intelligence Ministry (MOIS). They endured great pain, suffering, torture, and imprisonment to move towards organizing the great Army of Freedom, “Mrs. Rajavi said in a message to the Iranian nation on November 20.
These remarks and reports lead to the conclusion that #MEK resistance units have evolved into a significant dilemma for the mullahs. This network of resistance units is transforming into the most important force for the #Iranian people’s new revolution.#FreeIran #IranRegimeChange pic.twitter.com/rGemGOsmCx— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) November 16, 2019
Similarly, during the 2018 uprising, MEK Resistance Units played the main role in organizing the protests. The regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei publicly attributed the uprising to the MEK, stating that the opposition had planned for months to popularize the anti-government slogans and facilitate the protests’ rapid spread to over 140 cities. Unable to deter or contain the unrelenting, pervasive, and geographically widespread protests in 2018, the IRGC gunned down scores of protesters on the streets, arrested more than 8,000 citizens, and detained, tortured, and executed others.
In order to repeat the 2018 repression, the regime was quick to shut down the internet on the second day of the protests this time around.
“We're horrified at reports that dozens of protesters have been killed in Iran, hundreds injured & over 1000 arrested since Friday. We're alarmed that authorities have shut down the internet to create an information blackout of their brutal crackdown. We're investigating.” Amnesty International tweeted.
Following the shutdown of the internet, many senior regime officials and commanders of the security forces published threatening statements signaling a bloody crackdown on the protesters and the organizers.
“Every single rioter, wherever they may be in Iran, will be identified and punished for their acts,” Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of the regime’s Supreme National Security Council, said in an interview with the Mehr news agency on November 21.
“Those rioters, and their masters … should know that harsh punishment is waiting for them,” Ebrahim Raisi, Chief of the regime’s Judiciary and a member of the "Death Commissions" during the 1988 massacre said on November 22, 2019.
Just less than three weeks ago the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Ebrahim Raisi.
“… Previously, as deputy prosecutor general of Tehran, Raisi participated in a so-called "death commission" that ordered the extrajudicial executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988,” Department of the Treasury’s Press Release stated.
By November 23, at least 285 protesters have been killed, over 3,700 people injured and more than 7,000 demonstrators have been arrested.
Despite the shutdown of the internet to create an information blackout, MEK Resistance Units continued to relay information outside of the country to keep the international community aware of the situation.
“Iran has become so unstable that the regime has shut down its entire Internet System so that the Great Iranian people cannot talk about the tremendous violence taking place within the country. They want ZERO transparency, thinking the world will not find out the death and tragedy that the Iranian Regime is causing!” U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, warning the mullahs’ regime on the use of violence against protesters and shutting down the internet.
“As Iranians take to the streets in protest, the Ayatollahs in Tehran continue to use violence and imprisonment to oppress their people. The United States’ message is clear: the American people stand with the people of Iran,” U.S. Vice President Mike Pence tweeted on Thursday expressing Washington’s support for the Iranian people’s uprising.
“The U.S. is sanctioning the Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Mohammad Jahromi, for helping shut down the Iranian internet. We will hold members of the Iranian regime accountable for their violent repression of the Iranian people,” Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, tweeted on November 22, 2019.
This uprising and protests are durable and will continue, and the regime is incapable of containing and suppressing it. This was best articulated by Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi in her message to the Iranian nation on November 21, 2019:
“The trend of events from December 2017 up to this date clearly shows that this uprising is durable. As the Iranian Resistance reiterated from the outset, the clerical regime does not have the power to contain the uprisings and quell the revolts of rebellious cities, resistance units and the great Army of Freedom.
“The army of the unemployed and hungry, the army of suppressed women, and the army of those who have nothing to lose but their chains, are not going to give in and surrender. They are not thinking of reforming the regime. They are not seeking to charm the State Security Force or the Revolutionary Guards. They want to uproot the entire regime.
“World governments and the international community must set aside all considerations and reservations about the regime. They should demand an immediate halt to the killings and arrests. If the regime does not comply, they must readily pull the trigger of UN Security Council sanctions. The UNSC must declare the regime’s leaders as criminals committing crimes against humanity. They must face justice for this massive suppression and bloodshed. The international community must strongly condemn the mullahs’ terrorism on the internet and assist the people of Iran in circumventing this inhumane blockade,” Maryam Rajavi said in her message.