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Why Iran’s Regime Is Intensely Hostile Towards PMOI Women

Ashraf-3-4
Ashraf 3, Albania, MEK members pay tribute to the bravery of Iranian protesters, women, and youths and pay homage to the martyrs of the Iranian people’s nationwide uprising

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Last week, the head of Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court, responsible for the execution of tens of thousands of dissidents during the clerical dictatorship, handed down severe sentences to three women who support the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI): Forough Taghipour, Marzieh Farsi, and Zahra Safaei, sentencing them to 15 years, 5 years, and 15 years in prison, respectively.

Forough Taghipour, a 29-year-old graduate in accounting, was apprehended for the second time on August 21, 2023, in Tehran. Her close family members were killed in the 1980s due to their association with the PMOI, with her father and sister currently residing in Ashraf 3. Initially detained in March 2020 along with her mother on charges related to their affiliation with the organization and involvement in anti-regime activities, Forough remained imprisoned until February 2021.

Marzieh Farsi, a 56-year-old mother of two, who endured three years of imprisonment previously and is now battling cancer, was also arrested on August 21, 2023, in Tehran. Her brother, Hassan Farsi, fell victim to the 1988 massacre. Marzieh’s siblings are also currently residing in Ashraf 3.

Last week also saw the incarceration of Zahra Safaee, a 60-year-old mother of two, for the third time. Zahra spent eight years in prison in the 1980s for believing in a cause advocated by the PMOI. Arrested for the second time in March 2020 alongside her daughter, she was released in February 2023. Her father, Haj Hasanali Safaee, a prominent Tehran merchant and political prisoner during the Shah’s era, was killed by the clerical regime in 1980 for supporting the organization.

Despite the expectation of release, on August 27, 2023, Maryam Akbari Monfared received an additional two-year prison sentence from the Iranian regime’s Judiciary. Enduring 14 years of imprisonment without any furlough, this mother of three daughters stands as a symbol of remarkable resilience among female political prisoners in Iran.

On December 30, 2009, Maryam was abruptly transferred to Evin Prison without the opportunity to bid farewell to her daughters, under the pretext of being summoned “for questioning.” Sadly, she never returned home.

Maryam was put behind bars for seeking justice for her four siblings, executed at the hands of the clerical regime during the 1980s. Alongside Forough, Marzieh, and Zahra, she stands as a poignant symbol of the plight endured by countless women affiliated with the PMOI, their lives irrevocably altered by the regime’s oppressive measures.

In the 1980s, the Iranian regime executed tens of thousands of individuals, many of whom refused to tell their names to torturers and interrogators. The harrowing tales recounted by the few survivors of torture paint a picture of unimaginable atrocities, including rape and sexual assault.

In the 1988 massacre, among the tens of thousands of female prisoners, the clerical regime only executed those affiliated with the PMOI. The scarcity of women survivors has made it challenging for human rights organizations like Amnesty International to document evidence over the past decade. The majority of victims remain anonymous, their identities shrouded in secrecy, guarded by families shattered by tragedy, gripped by fear of reprisal, or resigned to obscurity in remote corners of the country.

This raises the poignant question: why does a regime purporting to lead the world’s Muslims display such extreme brutality towards women associated with a Muslim group?

Rooted in distorted and extremist interpretations of Islam, the regime has spent four decades striving to exclude half of Iran’s population from active participation in political and social spheres, perpetuating medieval superstitions and ignorance. According to its constitution, women lack the right to adjudicate in sensitive judicial and administrative realms, relegating them to second-class citizenship, where their worth is deemed inferior to that of men.

Yet, PMOI women present a unique challenge to this regime: they not only challenge its misuse of Islam but also champion the rights of all segments of Iranian society, particularly non-Muslim women, with unwavering resolve. Their mere existence undermines the legitimacy of religious tyranny, as they steadfastly refuse to yield even under the harshest torture and execution.

It is not coincidental that women hold 100% of leadership positions within the PMOI and female representatives comprise over 50% of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The NCRI, enduring the most severe crises both domestically and internationally over the past four decades, remains Iran’s largest and most formidable opposition force. Despite enduring massacres, restrictions, and forced displacements, the PMOI continues to deal significant blows to Tehran, showcasing to the world the transformative power of women’s leadership for more than three decades.

However, the outcome of this 45-year confrontation is evident not only in organized resistance but also in the streets of Iran, where female-led uprisings continue to reverberate with the quest for justice and freedom.