On Wednesday September 6, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, (PMOI/MEK) held its annual Congress. The Congress elected Ms. Zahra Merrikhi, 58, as its new Secretary General.
The MEK is the main opposition to the Iranian regime, and it has been brutally suppressed by the Iranian regime. Over 120,000 MEK members and supporters have been executed by the regime. 30,000 political prisoners, a majority of them members and supporters of the MEK, were massacred in the summer of 1988 alone. Iran kept a lid on the massacre for three decades.
In this year’s presidential election, a conservative cleric by the name of Ebrahim Raisi, one of the perpetrators of the massacre, was selected as a main candidate, resurfacing the 1988 massacre and forcing regime officials, one after another, to confess about the carnage and their fear of the MEK’s popular support.
Last July in an unprecedented interview, former Iranian intelligence minister Ali Fallahian revealed the mindset behind the 1988 mass execution. In his interview Fallahian explains whoever had any relationship with MEK was condemned to death.
“Imam [Khomeini] said you must execute those who are steadfast in their beliefs,” he said referring to the Iranian regime founder. “We couldn’t let them go and couldn’t keep them in jail. If we had kept them in jail, we would have had a bunch of people over our head telling us don’t keep them in jail. So a 3-man team of judges and ministers was assigned to oversee these cases, release those who were eligible and execute those that were not,” he continued.
In the summer of 1988 Khomeini issued a religious decree calling for the massacre.
“Whoever at any stage continues to belong to the (PMOI/MEK) must be executed. Annihilate the enemies of Islam immediately! … Those who are in prisons throughout the country and remain steadfast in their support for the MEK are waging war on God, and are condemned to execution … It is naive to show mercy to those who wage war on God,” the decree reads in part.
A committee of four men was formed to implement the order, and in a matter of a few months, more than 30,000 political prisoners were executed, mostly members and supporters of the MEK.
Last year the revelation of an audio tape and unpublished letters of the late Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, former successor to Khomeini, shed new light on dimensions of this grave crime. Pregnant women and girls as young as 14 and 15 years old were among those executed, Mr. Montazeri wrote.
Despite the brutal crackdown, during more than three decades, the MEK has managed to survive and grow, and it enjoys vast popular support among Iranians inside and outside of the country. Its annual gathering assembles over 100,000 Iranians from all over the world and millions watch the event inside Iran.
This year’s congress was important, because the new Secretary General was elected.
“Today, the PMOI, with the help of the Iranian people, is prepared as never before to overthrow the clerical regime,” Ms. Merrikhi the new elected Secretary General said. Ms. Merrikhi also introduced Narges Azodanlou, 36, Rabi’eh Mofidi, 35, and Nasrin Massih, 39, as new deputies to the Secretary General.
According to a PMOI statement, the new elected Secretary General became acquainted with the PMOI during the 1979 anti-Monarchic Revolution and joined the PMOI after the revolution. She was soon appointed head of the women’s section in Qa’emshahr, in Northern Province of Iran, and later became a member of the editorial board of the PMOI publication in Mazandaran. She was transferred to Tehran in 1981 and acted as liaison between the PMOI and its branches in the forests of northern Iran. In 1984, she moved to PMOI bases in the border region with Iraq, and a year later became a member of the Central Council. Her younger brother, Ali Merrikhi, was killed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in 1988.
The statement adds that Ms. Merrikhi oversaw PMOI branches in Scandinavia and Germany for some time. In 1991, she became a member of the Executive Committee and was later appointed head of MEK’s Radio and television network, she was also in charge of the MEK publication, Mojahed newspaper.
In 1992 she became a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) the coalition of different opposition groups and individuals, of which MEK is the largest. She was appointed Chairwoman of the Public Affairs Committee of the NCRI. Since 2003 she had been the coordinator of the offices of Mrs. Rajavi, the President elect of Iranian resistance. She also was the Vice-president of the PMOI’s Central Council since 2004.