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Riyadh Daily – Interview with NCRI FAC Chairman on Iran’s Uprising, Resistance Units and NCRI Strategy

In an interview with the Saudi Al Riyadh Newspaper, the Chairman of the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s Foreign Affairs Committee Mr. Mohammad Mohadessin expressed his views on the nationwide uprising in Iran, the roots of its perseverance, the Iranian regime’s failure to crackdown effectively and stop the protests, the most popular slogans, and how the uprising is led.

Mr. Mohadessin also discussed the strategy of the Iranian Resistance to make the uprising succeed, the network of the Resistance Units inside Iran, and explained how the NCRI regards non-violent and civil disobedience as a method to fight the brutal regime in Tehran

The full interview of Al Riyadh newspaper with NCRI FAC Chairman is republished below and it can also be found at the main source here.

Interview – Ibrahim Al Shammari (Al Riyadh Newspaper)

Mohadessin: The Iranian regime is unable to stop the uprising

Mohammad Mohaddeen, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said in a detailed interview with Al-Riyadh :

The Iranian people’s extreme dissatisfaction and the explosive situation of society are caused by the mullahs’ 43 years of government which has caused unemployment, inflation, poverty for the majority of the people, systemic corruption of the government, discrimination against women, oppression of women, and oppression of different nationalities in Iran.

In the past 43 years, the regime has shown that it is incapable of solving any of these problems. Solving each of these problems requires reforms and modifications within the system that is in contradiction with the principle of the Velayat-e Faqih structure and will lead to the collapse of the system. Experience has shown that this regime cannot be reformed.

Q: In your opinion, what factor or factors caused the continuation of this uprising, unlike previous uprisings?

A: For more than 100 days, Iranian people have been chanting, “Death to Khamenei”, “Death to the dictator,” and “Death to the tyrant, be it the Shah or the Leader” in the streets of 282 cities and in all 31 provinces of the country. More than 750 protestors have been martyred by Khamenei’s repressive forces, of whom the MEK has identified and announced the names of 605 so far. At least 35,000 people have been arrested. Recently, one of the regime’s websites quoted from the IRGC’s internal documents reporting that 29,000 people had been arrested in the first two months of the uprising.

The dynamism of this uprising and its continuation for this long period are two very important elements:

First, the people’s severe dissatisfaction and the explosive situation of the society are caused by the 43-year rule of the mullahs, which has caused unemployment, inflation, poverty of the majority of the Iranian people, systematic government corruption, discrimination against women and their oppression, oppression of minorities and different nationalities in Iran. In the past 43 years, the regime has shown that it is absolutely unable to solve any of these problems. The solution to any of these problems requires reforms within the regime that are incompatible with the essence of the Velayat-e Faqih system and will cause the system to collapse. Experience has shown that this regime cannot be reformed at all.

The second factor is the role of organized resistance, specifically the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran and the Resistance Units affiliated to the Mojahedin, which are present on the streets and play a decisive role in the advancement and continuation of the uprising.

Since the regime is not able to solve the first problem, it has focused all its efforts on the second factor, the organized resistance, to dismantle or neutralize it, in order to stop the uprising, at least in the short term.

This explains why a large number of PMOI supporters have been arrested and are subjected to the most severe tortures. In parallel, the regime’s propaganda and demonization policy against the PMOI has been intensified. The regime has also activated its agents and lobbies abroad to work against the Resistance.

Q: The regime made a lot of efforts to suppress the uprising; from killings in the street to arrests and tortures and finally executions. Will the regime be able to silence the people and put an end to the protests and return the situation to the previous routine?

A: All the signs indicate that the present conditions will not return to before September 2022 and the previous balance and the regime will not be able to recover from the burden of this uprising because:

Firstly, although Khamenei will continue to suppress until his last day in power, he has become weaker and weaker. While for more than 100 days, every city and village cries for the death of Khamenei, his facade has been shattered.

Secondly, this weakness is so great that many of the mullahs who supported Khamenei in previous crises have remained silent and some of the mullahs who were silent before, have expressed their protests. Mullahs such as Abdullah Nouri, the former Interior Minister, Morteza Moqtadaei, the Attorney General and the former head of the Supreme Court, Mohaghegh Damad, the former head of the General Inspection Department, etc. have publicly protested against Khamenei.

Thirdly, with the spread of the uprising, the people’s fear has diminished to a great extent, and despite the widespread arrests, more people are joining the ranks of the uprising every day.

Fourthly, many athletes, artists, and famous figures who had maintained their connections with the regime due to their jobs have joined the ranks of the opposition today.

Fifthly, the international community, which used to invest in the regime’s stability, is now gradually approaching the point where this regime cannot be invested on.

Briefly, it must be firmly said that neither the regime nor the people will return to the situation of August 2022, the momentum of the uprising has not disappeared and will not disappear, and ironically, it will intensify as repression increases.

Q: What do people want with this uprising? What is the main slogan of the people and what kind of government are they looking for by rejecting this regime?

A: The desire of the Iranian people is to overthrow this regime and achieve freedom and establish a democratic government, which manifests itself in slogans such as “Death to the dictator” and “Death to Khamenei” or “Death to the oppressor, be it the Shah or the Leader”. The people of Iran reject Shah’s dictatorship and the religious dictatorship of the mullahs.

The National Council of Resistance, as an alternative to the clerical regime, has announced from the beginning that it believes in a free and democratic Iran. The goal of the Iranian Resistance is to establish freedom, democracy, and a republic based on democratic standards in which all members of the people enjoy equal rights. No one should have special privileges or be deprived of equal rights with others due to racial, religious, or family affiliation. The vision of future Iran is outlined in Mrs. Rajavi’s ten-point plan, which has been supported by parliaments and international political circles. Tomorrow’s free Iran will be a republic based on the separation of religion and state, equality between men and women, and a non-nuclear Iran, and an Iran in peace and friendship with its neighbors.

Q: How is the uprising led? Some say that the uprising does not have a leader. What do you say in this regard, how do you look at it?

A: If the uprising did not have a leader and guiding force, how could it survive for such a long time under the severe repression of savage mullahs who do not shy away from any crime and brutality? This uprising is the continuation of 43 years of organized resistance against this regime, which brings with it a huge wealth of experiences. This struggle has gone through many ups and downs that have reached this point today.

During the 43 years of the rule of the mullahs, there was a continuous war between the people and the Iranian Resistance on the one hand and the mullahs’ regime with all its factions and security-military and intelligence agencies on the other hand, which has now reached this point.

The three main slogans of the people are “Death to the dictator” and “Death to Khamenei” and “Death to the oppressor, be it the Shah or the Leader”, which are repeated in different versions in the streets of cities all over Iran and show the desire of the public to overthrow this regime and establish democracy. These are the slogans, policies, and the strategy of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran and its Resistance Units.

In fact, the one who leads the uprising is the one who leads the demonstrations on the streets, with resistance, stability, and fire, this is the habitude of the PMOI, which is used throughout Iran by the rebellious youths from Zahedan, Saravan, and Khash to Izeh and Khorramabad and from Tehran, Mashhad, Tabriz, and Karaj to Sanandaj, Mahabad, Bukan, and Piranshahr.

Q: What is your strategy to overthrow the regime and what is the relationship between this uprising and this strategy?

A: The uprising that is going on now, once again proved the correctness in action of the PMOI’s strategy to overthrow the clerical regime. The main principles of PMOI’s strategy were tested once again.

The most important principle in the past forty years has been that this regime cannot be reformed, it will not change from within and it will not transform, there is no moderation and moderates within the regime, and any tendency to reform within this regime translates to its overthrow. Now, the people of Iran, from all strata and walks of life, say univocally that the regime must be overthrown. Everyone talks about the necessity of revolution; everyone has come to the conclusion that there is no prospect for change from within this regime. The emphasis on anti-Khamenei slogans shows this fact. The people do not want to change a minister or general or even the president of this regime, they want to overthrow the supreme leader and the system of Velayat-e Faqih.

For 40 years, the international community has compromised with this regime, or was deceived, or deceived itself for short-term benefits by playing hardliners and reformists game in this regime. This game was basically initiated by Khomeini and Khamenei. Everyone was hopeful for the “pragmatic” Rafsanjani; or the Khatami’s fiction, as the “moderate” president for eight years deceived the world community. With such a game, the West has always acted in favor of the criminal rulers of Iran in the past forty years, in practice, and not in slogans.

The second principle, tested again in this uprising, is that this regime will not go away easily. The regime suppresses and kills as much as it can. Therefore, the legitimate right to self-defense for the people and the uprising and the Iranian Resistance should be recognized. Since the massacre of the uprising of the people in Tehran led by the PMOI on June 20, 1981, i.e. 41 years ago, resistance against this regime has been not only legitimate but a duty. This right and duty shows itself well today in the uprising of the Iranian people

The third principle – Overthrowing this regime requires an organized force and warriors on the ground who are ready to sacrifice and pay the price. This is what this uprising is moving towards step by step, and the PMOI and its Resistance Units, and its underground networks play the biggest role in it.

Q: Explain more the role of this network and Resistance Units.

A: The PMOI has deep roots in Iranian society. Be mindful of several factors:

– Look at this list of martyrs (picture of the cover of the book of the list of martyrs), more than 100 thousand members and supporters of the PMOI have been executed by this regime. There is a martyr of the PMOI in every street, neighborhood, and village. Only the families of our martyrs constitute a big social network.

– Thousands of the PMOI members who are currently in Ashraf 3, the PMOI headquarters in Albania, and tens of thousands of active members and supporters of the PMOI all across the world, most of them are well-known figures in their cities and provinces and are a source of motivation for the people of those areas.

– The PMOI’s intelligence network inside the regime, which revealed the regime’s most confidential secrets. Who prevented the regime from acquiring an atomic bomb until today? Had this Resistance not revealed the project of obtaining an atomic bomb in 100 revelation campaigns, the regime would have surprised the world; an issue that has been acknowledged by the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

– From the outset, the PMOI stood against this regime and its abuse of Islam and said that Islam is not what the mullahs introduce; an approach that was widely supported by the people.

– Before the start of mass executions and shooting people in the streets, the PMOI used to hold demonstrations of 500,000 people in Tehran (photo of the demonstration on June 30, 2018).

These cases and hundreds of similar cases have made the PMOI a beacon in Iranian society.

But in recent years, in addition to the above points, Resistance Units have started to work as an organized vanguard organization throughout the country. They played a very important role in the 2017 and 2019 uprisings; in this year’s uprising, however, they had very different dimensions, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

With the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Khamenei tried to drag society into a coma with the policy of massive casualties and to keep them away from uprisings and protests. During that period, the Resistance Units tried to maintain the spirit of resistance and protest by setting fire to the symbols of the government; and after the end of the pandemic, it did not take much time for the explosion to occur with the first spark. In the current uprising, the Resistance Units play their daily role in expanding, continuing, and organizing the uprisings, and protecting them from suppression as much as possible.

In a confidential order by the IRGC dated October 19, 2022, which was disclosed by the Iranian Resistance, concern was expressed about the increase in the “actions of the PMOI Resistance Units” and instructions were issued to confront them. The legal deputy of  Raisi, the president of the regime, expressed his concern in a different way on October 31, 2022, and said that ” the PMOI are recruiting the youth of the country and unfortunately we see that some people inside the country are supporting them.”

Despite the massive arrests, the Resistance Units have grown by 500%. During the past few years, Resistance Units played a qualitative role in spreading the culture of resistance, especially among the young generation, with their extensive activities. The effects of these activities, such as burning and destroying pictures of Khamenei and Qassem Soleimani and other symbols of the regime, were clearly visible in the nationwide protests over the past 100 days.

The spread of these Resistance Units has also made it possible for them to form local and partisan protests in different cities and even in big cities in different regions, thus preventing the concentration of repressive forces.

Now pay attention to a part of the report of the PMOI social headquarters inside the country in the first 100 days of the uprising

– In the confrontation with the suppressing forces of the enemy, the Resistance Units conducted more than 1500 anti-oppression operations in 282 cities across the country to pave the way for the uprising. Many government centers and symbols were set on fire and the enemy’s supply routes were blocked.

– The Resistance Units had more than 4000 other practices, including projecting images on walls, acts, and street rallies during the uprising, installing banners and posters and writing graffiti along the pathways.

– In their battle against the IRGC, Basij, the MOIS, the State Security Force, and plainclothes agents, the Resistance Units have paid a heavy and bloody price for the continuation of the uprising in these 100 days of being attacked by all kinds of bullets, machetes, and knives, and enduring hundreds of injuries and thousands of arrests.

Q: Many advise people to be non-violent and say that demands can be achieved with civil disobedience and nationwide strike. What do you say?

A: The PMOI and the NCRI have said and repeated hundreds of times, either by its leader Mr. Masoud Rajavi, or its  President-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, that we wished that this dictatorial regime could be overthrown with strikes and marches and the like, but it is impossible. The nature of religious tyranny, like the ecclesiastical tyranny of the Middle Ages, is a bloodthirsty and torturous one with the lever of prison and execution. This regime will not last even a single day without the lever of massive repression and execution and killing, and it will be swept away by the people and the Iranian Resistance.

If you tell the people of Iran not to defend themselves and stand against this regime with bare hands, this regime will be in power forever. Legitimate self-defense against a regime that uses all means to suppress protesting people is a natural and God-given right and no one can take it away from the people of Iran. This right is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the constitutions of many countries.

Therefore, the idea of non-violence with its deceptive appearance only benefits the ruling regime. In most cases, the source of such propaganda is the Velayat-e Faqih and those who have great interests in keeping this regime in power.

Q: Iran is a country composed of different nationalities, what was the position of the nationalities in the recent uprising and what is the position of your movement towards them and how will the issue of nationalities be resolved after the overthrow of the mullahs?

A: Iran is a unified country and the Iranian people are a united nation. Kurds of Sanandaj, Ahwazi Arabs, and Zahedani Balochis are as Iranian and patriotic as the people of Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad, and Shiraz. Sunnis have the same Iranian heritage as Shias, Christians, and followers of other religions.

This fact was well shown in the recent uprising. The slogans from Zahedan to Tehran or from Kurdistan to Tehran or from Kurdistan to Zahedan I sacrifice my life for Iran show this spirit. The long list of martyrs in Kurdistan and Baluchistan of Iran during this uprising speaks for itself.

But unfortunately, Shah’s regime with Persian criminal chauvinism and the clerical regime’s religious fascism placed different nationalities and followers of different religions under the most severe repressions. We believe that these nationalities are under double oppression. For the PMOI, since its foundation, equal rights for all people, regardless of religion and nationality, have been an inescapable principle.

From the beginning of its foundation and also in the program of the interim government after the overthrow of this regime, the NCRI has officially announced that autonomy for different nationalities in Iran within the framework of Iran’s territorial integrity is a requirement for Iran’s democracy and independence. In 1983, the NCRI approved the autonomy plan of Kurdistan in 12 articles. This is one of the most advanced autonomy plans in the contemporary world. Mrs. Rajavi has stated many times in her interviews that we demand a similar plan for other nationalities. Mrs. Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point plan for a future Iran also states: “Autonomy for and removal of double injustices against Iranian nationalities and ethnicities consistent with the NCRI‘s plan for the autonomy of Iranian Kurdistan”.

Q: It is said that this uprising is in opposition to the hijab or even Islam. To what extent has this basis?

A: The most severe aspect of the oppressive and discriminatory policies of the clerical regime has been on women for the past forty years. This regime’s inhumane treatment of women, through brutal discrimination and suppression and policies of gender apartheid and compulsory hijab, has turned them into the most explosive part of Iran’s society and the vanguard of developments.

The problem of women in Iran is political and social freedoms and removing the discrimination and pressures that are imposed on them. They have learned well that so long as this regime exists, women’s problems cannot be solved. The issue of women is neither opposition to the hijab nor opposition to Islam, they are against all manifestations of repression, including the compulsory hijab. The regime wants to make the issue appear to be anti-Islam and opposition to the hijab. Therefore, the women chant, “Either with hijab or without hijab, united onward to revolution” in the demonstrations.

The brave women who, along with knowledgeable men, come to the streets have shown in the past 100 days that they want to put an end to this regime, and they are not consenting to anything less. Because they know very well that as long as this regime is in power, their desire for gender equality will not be realized.

Ever since the fall of the Shah and the beginning of the struggle of Iran’s freedom lovers against the authoritarian regime of mullahs, thousands of women have protested. Among them, the women in the PMOI movement were attacked by the mullahs’ regime more than others because, while choosing a headscarf based on their religious beliefs, they presented a decisive demarcation with Khomeini’s Islam and his attempt to enslave women. They showed society and the world that it is possible to be a Muslim and a libertarian at the same time and a defender of women’s free choice and equal rights and their leading role in politics. And this was unforgivable and unacceptable for Khomeini and his regime.

Tens of thousands of these women, followers of the PMOI movement, have been slain by the mullahs since 1981 for the cause of freedom of the Iranian people and the equality of men and women, and they were tortured in the most brutal way in prisons. Only in the summer of 1988, almost all the PMOI women prisoners were massacred in the mullahs’ prisons for standing up for the cause of freedom and equality.

The brave women and young girls of the new generation in Iran, who today stand against the regime’s repressive forces, have been under the impression of the same women and follow their path to get their rights through the overthrow of this regime.

The PMOI has always opposed any kind of compulsory hijab, compulsory religion, and religious compulsion. This is exactly in line with the teachings of Islam that we have learned from the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Messenger of God and the leaders of Islam. No one has harmed Islam and Shia as much as the Iranian regime. In the months after the anti-monarchy revolution, the women and men of the PMOI supported the women’s demonstration against the compulsory hijab in March 1979 and protected them against the attack of Khomeini’s club-wielders.

Ms. Rajavi also says in the book Islam, Women, and Equality:

“I have asked these mullahs many times where in Islam the crimes you commit are justified? Where is the killing and massacre of political prisoners and especially thousands of women from 13-year-old girls to 70-year-old mothers and pregnant women approved in Islam and the Quran? Where in Islam is it said that you are supposed to slander women? Humiliate them in the streets, stone them, and torture and rape them in the torture centers by savage mercenaries and guards?”

Q: Recently, the Iranian regime was expelled from the UN’s Women Commission. What do you think about this? Is it possible the same issue will be repeated in other UN bodies, such as UNICEF, etc.?

A: Of course, expelling the Iranian regime from the Women’s Commission was a very right and good action, but it was too late. Perhaps it is better to say that the international community should not have allowed this regime to the Commission on the Status of Women from the beginning. The regime’s shameful treatment of women is not a new phenomenon; this regime was characterized by misogyny from the beginning of its rise to power. This regime’s opposition to political and social freedoms was primarily manifested in its opposition to women and their freedoms. In the prisons, the most brutal tortures were applied to women prisoners, from 13-year-old girls to old mothers, and even pregnant women were placed before death squads; the crimes that would embarrass any freedom-loving human being.

The regime that carries out the most number of executions in the world today, has the most political prisoners and commits the most political killings in the streets, the regime that exports the most terrorism and warmongering and is proud of these crimes, should be completely expelled from the United Nations and all its bodies and other international communities. Iran’s seat in international organizations should be given to the Iranian Resistance. We are fighting for the realization of such a goal and we ask all freedom seekers of the world and all our neighbors who are the prime targets of the aggression of the Iranian regime to help the Iranian people in realizing this goal.

Q: In general, how do you evaluate the international community’s reaction to the uprising? What should be the correct approach of the international community toward the uprising?

A: The international community has always been very negligent towards the crimes of the criminal regime ruling Iran. For example, in 1988, when Khomeini ordered the massacre of all members and supporters of the PMOI who were in prisons, and based on that, 30,000 prisoners were executed, and the current president of the regime, Ebrahim Raisi, was one of the members of the “death committee”, the massacre of political prisoners was carried out in absolute silence and inaction of the world, and the international community did not react, the United Nations also remained silent.

However, the voice of the people’s representatives in these countries has been different from the government’s approach. For example, in recent weeks and during the uprising, we have had extensive support in the parliaments of France, Italy, England, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Canada, the US, and other countries.

Specifically, in the United States, two meetings were held in Washington D.C., in one of which Democratic Senator Menendez, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, together with seven other senators from both parties, and in the other conference, former Secretary of State Pompeo and former Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and a number of other prominent American figures participated and announced their strong support for the uprising.

International support and conferences show that the international community is not indifferent to the uprising of the Iranian people, and this is what isolated the policy of appeasement with the regime and put the medieval regime of the mullahs under the most severe blows and pressures on both the domestic and international fronts.

Of course, we in the Iranian Resistance movement and our people are ready to pay the price of achieving freedom in our country. What we want from the world countries, especially the neighboring countries, is that only condemning the regime and verbally supporting the Resistance is not enough, practical measures are necessary. We specifically demand them to:

• Recognize the right of the Iranian people to defend themselves by any means they have and their right to overthrow the regime;

• Cut off economic, political, and diplomatic deals with this regime and shut down the regime’s embassies, which are dens of espionage, and return their ambassadors from Iran;

• Put the MOIS and the IRGC on terrorist lists and expel all their mercenaries and agents

• Exclude the regime from all international and regional organizations and give Iran’s seat to the Iranian Resistance.

Q: what is your assessment, as Iran’s opposition, of the JCPOA negotiations? Is it possible to revive it? And can it be the lifeline of the regime?

A: The reality is that the JCPOA was a flawed agreement from the beginning in 2015. At that time, the regime was in severe crisis and unfortunately, 5+1 gave this regime a lot of privileges without the necessary guarantees, while in those conditions the international community could have forced the regime to completely suspend enrichment and close nuclear sites and stop regional interference and dismantle its missiles program. But unfortunately, with this nuclear agreement and pouring the money of the Iranian people into the pocket of the religious fascism ruling Iran, the regime not only did not stop its nuclear projects but with this windfall, it escalated its interference in the region and its terrorism in Europe and the world. After the Mykonos court in 1997, when European governments called their ambassadors from Iran, the regime stopped terrorist operations in Europe. However, they resumed their operations a few months after the JCPOA agreement.

Now, 100 days after this great uprising, talking about the JCPOA is more than ever a vulgar joke. Of course, the more the regime faces an impasse in the face of the uprising and while the country’s official currency is collapsing sharply, the regime may resort to deception in its last days and demand a return to the JCPOA. It is the duty of 5+1 and the western countries, as well as the duty of the countries of the region not to allow this regime to do this deception.

But as the Iranian Resistance has stated many times, the 5+1 countries should take the initiative. The regime has clearly and repeatedly violated resolution 2231 of the United Nations Security Council. The snapback in this resolution should be triggered and all the resolutions of the Security Council should be reactivated and comprehensive sanctions should be applied against the regime. The countries of the region should also ask the same from the 5+1.

The experience of the past 43 years has shown that this regime cannot stop suppressing for a single day, nor can it stop encroaching on the region for a single day. Only the language of force can push this regime to retreat and when it retreats, it will be overthrown.

Negotiating with this regime, whether in nuclear or regional interventions, is nothing but a cooking stone and only gives this regime an opportunity to increase its illegal and criminal projects.