Remarks by Zahra Merrikhi, Secretary-General of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK)
Ms. Zahra Merrikhi, the Secretary-General of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), gave a speech on the 56th anniversary of the organization’s founding. In her speech, Ms. Merrikhi explains how women’s leadership in the PMOI has been the most significant transformation in the main opposition force to the mullahs’ regime, and how it has become the secret to its endurance.
Following are excerpts from her speech:
The Shah and the mullahs have been destroying every achievement, every positive movement, and every goodness and beauty in our country and society. Therefore, creating a positive movement is a victory for all the people of Iran…
Since 1985, our organization has owed 35 years of its 55-year existence to Maryam Rajavi. For 35 years, our organization has survived being in the eye of a storm because of an emancipating transformation.
I summarize the essence of this transformation in a few sentences: every PMOI member has freely and knowledgeably chosen to sacrifice everything for him/herself to overthrow the regime and to help our people gain everything. To make this great sacrifice, one needs to crush the culture of gender discrimination and selfish individuality. On this basis, for more than 30 years, the women and men of the PMOI have chosen to give up their own family lives, spouses, children, etc. Why?
To overthrow the regime and free our nation and our homeland. Under the rule of a brutal and demagogic regime, liberation would be possible only by full-fledged sacrifice that excludes all else. All of our sisters and brothers who serve as officers in this organization have been re-born out of this revolution.
If you ask me, “what is the PMOI’s emancipating message to the young generation in Iran?” my answer is: Rebellion against gender discrimination and the “Me First” ideology. This rebellion guarantees women’s equality and emancipation and presents a leadership that liberates us all.
But the objective is to survive, to remain steadfast with a high fighting spirit against a regime that relies entirely on the massacre of human generations and wealth and all the sacred values and words. Until we break the chains of slavery and servitude.
In a nutshell, the ideology touted by Khomeini and the Velayat-e Faqih regime enslaves our people. Let us review the questions posed by Khomeini’s Death Commissions during the 1988 massacre. Amnesty International has published these questions.
Are you prepared to condemn the PMOI and its leadership?
Are you prepared to spy against your former comrades and cooperate with the Intelligence services?
Are you prepared to become a member of the death squads?
Are you prepared to hang a PMOI member?
A historical test and a fate-making discovery
In February 1982, on the anniversary of the anti-monarchic revolution, Massoud Rajavi said Khomeini was a historical test, above all, that reflected the rust and the dregs deep in Iranian society.
Maryam Rajavi discovered that at the heart of the rot that has pervaded Iranian society, and a pivotal principle of the 1,400-year-old reactionary perspective, concealed under the cloak of religion, center around the issue of misogyny and gender discrimination. Yet in Islam, the first believer was Khadijeh, its lofty lady is Fatemeh, and its standard-bearer is Zeinab.
Oppression of and discrimination against women is at the core of the mullahs’ ideology. Fighting this ideology of male domination and gender discrimination, which are as old as the history of sexual exploitation, is not simple. It needs great courage.
Like the PMOI, you must accept the leadership of qualified women in your organization during this historical time. We believe that without women’s leadership in the PMOI, as the main opposition force to the regime, women cannot achieve genuine equality in society. With her motto, Maryam Rajavi made possible that which had previously seemed impossible: “We can and we must.” Now, we have been through this for 30 years.
Of course, the infrastructure of this major ideological transformation is based on the participation of tens of thousands of PMOI women in their struggle, suffering, and sacrifices along the way. As Massoud Rajavi said, these women represented “a new historical entity” of Muslim women in a Muslim society.
It was Maryam Rajavi who changed possibility into reality in the ranks of the PMOI. Clearly, no one could prevent women from entering the field, in light of so much struggle, suffering, and sacrifice. But if you seek to uproot the ideology of gender discrimination and male domination, then the defenders of the old order attack you with their artillery of lies, slander campaigns, and accusations.
Then, you will become a “sect” whose members have been forced to divorce. They are devoid of love; they are violent. They have rejected their home and family. They have chosen the path of violence. The essence of this issue is to keep women as men’s property, in the chains of sexual exploitation.
I must emphasize several fundamental issues:
From the outset, the reason for this total ideological overhaul and transformation was to overthrow the clerical regime. The subsequent stages were of the same essence.
The leader of the Resistance declared that this revolution is only for the PMOI members who are “the rival force of the mullahs’ reactionary regime and its allies. It is the answer to the strategic political aspects of the struggle to overthrow the regime.”
A question for all: Resistance or surrender?
The next important point is our extremely complex domestic, regional, and international conditions, which highlight the significance of the historical test of our existence, our people, and our country. In the second half of the 1980s and the final years of that decade, we witnessed significant developments that sealed our fate:
- The National Liberation Army of Iran compelled Khomeini to accept the truce in the Iran-Iraq war, which Khomeini described as drinking a poison chalice. Before doing so, Khomeini was preparing for the massacre of imprisoned PMOI members.
- The Eternal Light Operation had the regime see death at its doorstep.
- Khomeini massacred PMOI prisoners and ousted his successor, Hossein Ali Montazeri. Then he died of grief over the defeat when trying to conquer Jerusalem via Karbala (in Iraq).
- Subsequently, Rafsanjani took over with his gestures of moderation, which provoked maximum appeasement of the regime by western governments.
- In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, and the U.S. and its allies attacked Iraq. Khamenei was the first winner of this war, just as he was during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
- By the end of the 1980s, the Soviet Union had collapsed, ending the era of the Cold War and marking a New World Order.
These developments brought about a major question: Resistance or surrender?
Was it only the PMOI who faced this question? No. At the time, this was a question that everyone faced: Every single member of the PMOI in the National Liberation Army; all PMOI supporters, inside Iran and abroad; all of our prisoners who faced imminent massacre; all Iranian groups and personalities; and all progressive movements in the region and the world.
It is enough to look at the list of Iranian groups that were based in Iraqi Kurdistan by 2003, and the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
But the PMOI’s answer to the question of time was resistance. Our members prepared for further sacrifice and selflessness. Waging war against Khomeini and his evil regime with maximum purity, sincerity, and honesty. Yes to resistance, yes to the regime’s overthrow.
Yes, we can and we must. Even if you are blacklisted in Europe and the U.S. after the massacre of your prisoners to placate the clerical regime.
Even if 12 governments join forces and cooperate with the clerical regime to annihilate you.
Let me summarize: the PMOI chose the path of resistance with Maryam and Massoud Rajavi. The story of 40 tortuous years of sacrifice continues. For any PMOI member who has been through these years and all its feverish moments, for all those who have experienced the ups and downs, it is as clear as daylight that they would have been eliminated if they had not made the choice to resist and fight.
Women’s leadership in the PMOI, financial independence
Please note: The first and most tangible reality facing this organization and this movement is the challenge of raising funds.
The clerical regime and its allies say that our money comes from Saudi Arabia. You may recall that in January 2018, Khamenei (the mullahs’ supreme leader) claimed that the Mojahedin’s expenses were paid for by Saudi Arabia.
Massoud Rajavi immediately refuted that claim, saying, “Khamenei’s claim that the PMOI is funded by Saudi Arabia – whether regionally or internationally – is utterly false and even ridiculous. The PMOI has not received even one Rial.”
To tell the truth, the regime, its mercenaries, and its network of hired writers and media cannot begin to comprehend that our financial independence and self-reliance are among the first outcomes of our choice to fight the ideology of gender discrimination and selfish individuality.
At this point, I would like to remind you of the essence and function of the ideological transformation within the Mojahedin in two areas:
Ideologically, it is against all forms of exploitation and guarantees deeper emancipation of self. Organizationally and as a requirement for struggle, this is a struggle against selfish individuality and the “Me First” ideology, which goes against any organization, collective effort, and social struggle.
We are all familiar with Massoud Rajavi’s thoughts on every human being’s unique and individual personality. He says, “Every human being has a unique identity and individual personality… Our individual personality is the flip side of our responsibility… The positive and creative aspect of it materializes in one’s choices and sense of responsibility. The negative aspect of it comes out of the freedom of choice, so he can do wrong… So, what we oppose is that selfish individuality that is despicable and counter-evolutionary.”
So, we all know that what we mean is to repress selfishness, narcissism, and the feeling of being special or better than others. [To repress] any and all of the various forms of open and concealed demands for more benefits. Yes, being special, being the son of someone, or enjoying family privileges are meaningless and non-existent. All PMOI members have come to sacrifice. They are not seeking to hoard things for themselves or take advantage of others’ toil and suffering.
There are absolutely no grounds in the Mojahedin for people to enjoy extra rights and benefits because of their family connections.
Just as no one can claim, under any pretext, the credit that resulted from our martyrs’ blood and sacrifices without fighting and suffering for it. They cannot demand benefits simply because they were related to them.
Gaining the nation’s trust
None of PMOI members have anything of their own. Whatever they have belongs to their people. And this is why they have gained their trust.
This is how the PMOI has gained the trust of its people.
This is how the people of Iran would regain their trust, which was betrayed by Khomeini and his inhumane mullahs. Our supporters, who have accompanied us on our path throughout these long, tortuous years; those who have contributed all their time and everything they had to the movement, can very well understand and feel every one of these words with their flesh and skin. They provided for the expenses of this movement; they helped the PMOI get through numerous crises and storms, plots, and assaults.
So, this is how the sacrifice and suffering of 120,000 martyrs who gave their lives for freedom, including the 30,000 political prisoners massacred in 1988, and several thousand prisoners tortured, bear fruit.
Thanks to these sacrifices and selflessness, which supersede all conceivable limits of human tolerance, today’s PMOI is stronger, more powerful, and more organized than ever. And it has evolved into the Iranian people’s focal point of hope for the regime’s overthrow and the establishment of freedom in our enchained homeland.
It is not without reason that the regime’s officials and leaders are so frightened by the increase in popular support for the PMOI, warning against the role of PMOI Resistance Units in the formation of uprisings and anti-regime protests.
The mullahs know, better than anyone else, that the PMOI has defeated them in every field. They know that the day is near when the people of Iran will overthrow their ignorant and criminal regime.
Yes, the people of Iran and their PMOI vanguards will topple the clerical regime. And nothing can stop them from realizing this.
Memories of early days of struggle
In late April 1981, in my hometown of Qa’emshahr, Khomeini’s thugs ruthlessly killed two young girls who supported the Mojahedin. Both were my friends: Roya Rahimi and Somayyeh Noghreh Khaja.
A few hours after the extensive confrontation with the revolutionary guards, a large number of people, including the girls supporting the PMOI, gathered in Qa’emshahr’s Mojahed-Mahalleh district. It was getting dark, but the people who had gathered to protest the heartless killings would not leave. They cried out and chanted slogans that exposed the crimes of Khomeini and his guards.
I will never forget this: Roya’s father entered the street, asking each and every one of us, “Have you seen Roya?”
And we could not say a word, but our tears spoke loudly.
But history answered Roya’s father: Thousands of girls and young women like Roya and Somayyeh joined the movement, generation after generation. They realized the glorious steadfastness of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. They turned it into the Iranian people’s tangible hope of freedom.
Thousands of rebellious and resilient young women and men who yearn for freedom and pursue her path.
Now, we begin the 56th year of our movement with the pledge that Mrs. Rajavi announced in the Iranian Resistance’s annual gathering this year:
The overthrow of the mullahs, attaining our people’s sovereignty and suffrage, and instating social justice.