Khamenei knows he can’t offer concessions, since the smallest shift could trigger another uprising across the deprived and suppressed nation

Telegraph    |    Maryam Rajavi    |    September 17, 2023

Almost exactly a year ago, a remarkable nationwide uprising unfolded in Iran. It witnessed people from all walks of life chanting “death to [regime supreme leader Ali] Khamenei” and “down with the oppressor”. These powerful words reflected the popular rejection of the clerical regime. In mere days, the uprising became a firestorm of dissent that encompassed every province and shook the ruling theocracy to its core.

In response, the regime embarked on a campaign to ruthlessly suppress the revolt. The past year has been unmistakably characterized by the people’s uprising on the one hand, and the regime’s relentless crackdown on the other. However, when we contemplate the future of Iran, a fundamental question arises: which one of these forces will ultimately shape the nation’s destiny?

The mullahs want to convey the impression that the balance of power has reverted to its pre-uprising status. But the daily realities experienced by the people paint a starkly contrasting narrative. A bankrupt economy, unbridled inflation, chronic unemployment, and institutionalized discrimination are contributing to a situation in which Iranian society is primed to erupt again.

The events of September 2022 revealed widespread discontent transcending class, region, generation and gender. It was led by women. The middle and lower classes came to the streets in major urban centres and smaller towns. And in spite of the regime’s four-decade endeavor to exert control over universities, students played a leading role in the uprising, often receiving resolute support from fellow citizens. There was also unprecedented participation from high school students. This epitomized the people’s fervent longing to oust the theocracy, which, for over four decades, has clung to power through brutal repression. Despite its brutality, the regime has failed to eliminate the organised resistance.

Western analysts, taken aback by the profound societal discontent, might have been less surprised had they been attuned to recent developments in Iranian society. Several nationwide uprisings have unfolded since December 2017, steadily increasing in frequency, scale and social inclusiveness, while the demands of participants have grown progressively radical.

All of which is compounded by the fact that the regime is woefully incapable of enacting major economic, political or social changes. It knows that any substantial change would risk spiraling out of control, intensifying the populace’s desire for self-governance and liberty, and ultimately hastening its own disintegration. Consequently, the regime can only rely on short-term, constrained measures to stifle dissent or temporarily placate the public. It has no long-term strategy to avert enduring conflict.

Khamenei is acutely aware that a larger uprising looms on the horizon. Yet his response remains confined to consolidating power within loyalist ranks, poised to enforce future suppressive measures. This only serves to bolster the people’s calls for a comprehensive regime change, escalating social tensions and setting the stage for a more devastating revolt.

The Iranian people are resolute in their quest for freedom. The West must now recalibrate its policies consistent with this reality in mind, and abandon the politics of appeasement. It should refrain from offering concessions to the regime, designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, and acknowledge the Iranian people’s inalienable right to resist against tyranny.

Maryam Rajavi is the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran



Global Consensus: NCRI Stands as Viable Democratic Alternative for Iran
Townhall     |     Ivan Sascha Sheehan     |     Jul 16, 2023

Picture the vibrant suburbs of Paris as they became the epicenter of an electrifying gathering earlier this month—the Free Iran World Summit 2023. The event boasted an extraordinary lineup of over 500 global leaders, luminaries, and influential personalities, including current and former officials, presidents, prime ministers, ministers, and lawmakers from the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. They united in resolute support of Iran’s main opposition movement and its transition plan as an alternative to the incumbent theocracy.

Among the attendees were a constellation of notable figures like 2024 US presidential candidate Mike Pence, former prime ministers Stephen Harper of Canada, Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium, and Liz Truss of the UK, and seasoned former National Security Advisors Ambassador John Bolton and General James Jones. Joining them were several renowned members of the European foreign policy establishment, alongside sitting members of the US Congress Lance Gooden (R-TX) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA).

These prominent figures voiced unyielding support for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the largest and most enduring opposition movement in Iran. They rallied behind the NCRI’s Ten-point Plan, a comprehensive roadmap for a future democratic republic, first outlined by the NCRI’s President-elect, Maryam Rajavi.

The timing of the NCRI event couldn’t have been more propitious. Amidst the formidable challenges of nuclear weapons development and terrorist by the regime, a central question emerges: What lies beyond the brittle regime as an alternative? Cunningly, the mullahs have spun a deceptive web, propagating the notion that no viable alternative exists—a ploy to perpetuate its iron grip on power.

However, the Iranian people have unveiled a clear vision and an authentic alternative. Speaking before thousands of impassioned attendees at the Free Iran event on July 1, former US vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman declared, “We can never acknowledge that there is no alternative to a totalitarian government, certainly not in Iran. … It is a democratic republic. … And Iran is closer to that today than ever before because the regime is weaker than it’s ever been before.”

This sentiment reverberates through the very core of the nationwide protests in Iran, as impassioned chants thunder: “Death to the tyrant, be it the Shah or the mullahs,” and “Monarchy, mullahs, 100 years of crime!” Iranians stand united in vehement rejection of a despotic return to monarchy-led dictatorship. Yet, the path to a democratic republic demands deft navigation to avoid the pitfalls encountered by nations in the throes of transformative regime change.

A political alternative is not something that can be spontaneously created overnight. Its creation requires patient cultivation and a meticulous struggle over time. A substantive alternative to the current regime embodies certain distinctive characteristics: a robust organizational structure, unwavering domestic and international support, competent leadership, a clear action plan for the future, and an unequivocal rejection of all forms of dictatorship. The NCRI has emerged as a paragon embodying these qualities.

Since 1981, the movement has weathered the storms of a prolonged and arduous struggle against the prevailing religious tyranny. With the help of its main constituent, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), the coalition has defied the suffocating clutches of religious fascism, consolidating its organizational structure, crafting a comprehensive plan, and displaying unwavering resolve—paying the price of resistance day in and day out.

Kazem Gharibadai, deputy for legal affairs to the Judiciary Chief recently revealed that not a single meeting with European countries transpires without Tehran raising the issue of the MEK, which Tehran deeply fears as an existential threat. Such concern was palpable when, on June 10, President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran beseeched his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, to halt and prohibit the Free Iran rally.

Eager to appease Tehran, French authorities complied, but the NCRI successfully contested the ban in court, embarrassing both the Islamic theocracy in Tehran and the advocates of appeasement in Paris. The very fact that the rally took place underscored the opposition’s impressive diplomatic and organizational capabilities.

The NCRI comprises a tapestry of opposition groups and individuals. The MEK has demonstrated remarkable prowess in intelligence-gathering and enjoys fervent grassroots support through its well-organized Resistance Units, which according to regime officials, lead nationwide protests. At the Free Iran rally this month, over 10,000 messages poured in from these units, prompting the regime to panic and hastily announce the arrest of Resistance Unit members—an unmistakable testament to their influence.

The NCRI commands significant international backing. The recent summit witnessed powerful endorsements from 3,600 lawmakers representing 40 countries, including majorities from France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Norway.

The movement’s Ten-Point Plan for a secular, democratic, and non-nuclear Iran has garnered widespread acclaim both at home and abroad. It stands as a tangible and pragmatic roadmap, capable of dexterously navigating the most pressing strategic concerns on the nation’s path to transformation.

Amidst the crucible of adversity, a glimmer of hope emerges in the form of the main organized Iranian opposition—a beacon of resilience and a viable alternative to the nightmarish status quo in Iran. To forge a more secure world and weaken authoritarian regimes across the globe, Western governments must resolutely heed the resounding support of countless luminaries who now rally behind this compelling alternative.

Dr. Ivan Sascha Sheehan is the executive director of the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Baltimore and an associate professor in the College of Public Affairs. Dr. Sheehan specializes in global terrorism, counterterrorism, U.S. foreign policy, and international conflict management.



Newsweek     |     Hamid Yazdan Panah     |     8/1/2023

Over the last year, Iran has witnessed an eruption of resistance against the ruling theocracy. The uprising sparked by the murder of Mahsa Zhina Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman, has rocked the regime to its core. The proto-revolution, which is still gestating, could be the first truly feminist revolution the world has seen. It deserves not only our full support, but also protection from those who seek to undermine or usurp its potential.

This includes those who appear fixated on the past, instead of supporting Iran’s bright future. Lisa Daftari provides an example of this in her recent piece for Newsweek entitled Why Jimmy Carter Owes the Iranian People an Apology. Daftari targets former President Jimmy Carter for his policies towards the deposed shah and ends with the claim that many young Iranians have a “nostalgia” for the former monarchy and seek the return of the shah’s son, Reza Pahlavi.

Iranians have been struggling for democratic change since 1905 and have a rich history of organizing nationwide to get it. Daftari’s argument attempts to place the shah’s failures at the feet of Carter, and set the stage for a return to the monarchy as opposed to daring to dream for more.

Let us begin with some facts. The former shah, who Daftari refers to as the “legitimate ruler of Iran,” was a monarch who ruled with an iron fist. His family came to power through a military coup against the Qajar dynasty, and like most classical dictators his regime was rife with corruptionrepression and decadence. During his reign he instituted one party rule in Irancracked down on free speech, and created the notorious SAVAK secret police force, to target dissidents.

The historical record is clear and uncontroversial, yet many are now attempting to use the heinous crimes of the Islamic Republic to whitewash the monarchy. This doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Many of the practices that have become synonymous with the Islamic Republic, such as the airing of televised confessions of political opponents began under the SAVAK. The agency itself was largely kept intact by the Islamic Republic and simply rebranded.

Daftari would have you believe that the shah was simply supplanted by Islamists hand-picked by the West, but the shah set the stage for his own downfall. Had he been more tolerant of liberal dissent or provided room for democratic change as many in the West urged, his regime would not have been toppled.

Perhaps the most ironic historical fact that Daftari ignores in her quest for an apology is that the shah already provided one. In November 1978, the shah appeared on national television and provided a feeble apology in an attempt to maintain his rule. In his speech, he acknowledged past mistakes, and stated “I make a commitment to be with you and your revolution against corruption and injustice in Iran.”

This apology was too little and too late for the people of Iran. The masses were against him, and he was deposed in no small part by the masses. The fact that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his Islamist thugs hijacked the aspirations of the nation does not change the shah’s record, or the legitimate democratic aspirations possessed by ordinary Iranians.

What Daftari omits from her piece is the fact that Iranians on the street have made clear in their chants that it is possible to oppose both the past dictatorships and the current Islamic Republic. One of these chants states “Neither Monarchy, nor [Supreme] Leader, [we want] Democracy and Equality.”

The idea that a feminist revolution will culminate in the leadership of the exiled Reza Pahlavi as shah is dubious if not absurd. We should recognize that just like 1978, Iranians are beyond looking for an apology from anyone. They are ready for real freedom, not overthrowing a supreme leader to reinstitute a shah. Our goal should be to ensure that they succeed.



State Department says it has been ‘assured’ Albanian government did not violate any human rights

By Caitlin McFall    |   Fox News     |     6/20/2023

The State Department has found itself in a precarious position after dozens of Iranian dissidents seeking safe haven in Albania were reportedly injured Tuesday and one allegedly killed in a camp raid by state police after the inhabitants were accused of plotting cyberattacks against the Albanian government.

An alleged 1,000 Albanian police officers from the Special Prosecution against Corruption and Organized Crime unit descended upon the Ashraf-3 and Ashraf-4 camps located in Maneza in western Albania, which is home to at least 3,000 Iranian oppositionists from the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) – an Iranian resistance group that supports the establishment of a new government in Tehran.

According to reporting by the Albanian Daily News, the situation was initially described as “calm” as police officials looked for people they suspected of being “infiltrators of the regime of Iran.” But the situation apparently turned violent after the Iranian inhabitants refused to hand over personal computers and devices to the authorities. The police officers turned to tear gas and pepper spray against the camp residents and began breaking down doors to people’s homes before confiscating or destroying personal computers, according to a statement by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an Iranian political organization that is based in France and Albania.

The group called the raid “criminal and repressive” and claimed that some 100 camp inhabitants were injured in the attack, though Fox News Digital could not independently verify this account and local reporting put the number of those injured around three dozen. The individual killed was 65-year-old Ali Mostashari, an activist during the Iranian revolution and a senior MEK member, according to Ali Safavi a member of the NCRI’s Foreign Affairs Committee based in Paris. The circumstances around Mostashari’s death remain unclear.

“He escaped death several times when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the clerical regime’s security forces tried to apprehend him in the early 1980s. By murdering him, the Albanian police has done what the Iranian regime could not accomplish,” Safavi told Fox News Digital Tuesday.

The MEK and NCRI have called on the U.S., the U.N. and the European Union – which Albania applied for membership to in 2009 and was granted “candidate status” in 2014 – to condemn the raid and hold Albania accountable for human rights violations as defined under international treaties like the Refugee Convention, the World Declaration Human rights and the European Convention.

In a comment to Fox News Digital a State Department spokesperson said Washington had been assured “all actions were conducted in accordance with applicable laws, including with regard to the protection of the rights and freedoms of all persons in Albania.”

“We support the Government of Albania’s right to investigate any potential illegal activities within its territory,” the spokesperson added without commenting on how this could affect the U.S.’s ties to the Iranian dissidents there. The U.S. sits in a precarious position when it comes to the aggressive raids Tuesday as it has supported the Iranian dissidents abroad since at least 2009 when it led efforts to remove the oppositionists from Iraq after the Iraqi government became hostile toward the MEK.

At the time, the U.S. still designated the MEK as a terrorist organization over its militant campaigns that opposed the U.S.-backed shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, along with the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s, followed by an attack on U.S. soil in 1992. But by 2012 the State Department removed the MEK from its designated terrorist list over the group’s renouncement of violence and open cooperation with the U.S. in Iraq.

Some 2,700 MEK members were then transferred to Albania at the request of the U.S. beginning in 2014, according to EuroNews. The U.S. has also been a top supporter of the Albanian government and, following a July 2022 cyberattack, the U.S. Cyber National Mission Force organized an operational “hunt” to “identify, monitor and analyze adversary tactics, techniques and procedures” relating to the “malicious” assault.

Tehran was blamed for the attack and diplomatic relations were severed.

But the tensions between Albania and Iran over the cyberattack have also put pressure on the dissident community residing within Albanian borders. Albanian Minister of Interior Bledar Cuci on Tuesday rejected any accusation of wrongdoing and claimed the actions taken were in line with a decision made by Albania’s Special Court against Corruption and Organized Crime.

“The Court’s decision is a consequence of actions that openly violate the agreement and commitments made by the MEK group since 2014 when they were settled in Albania solely for humanitarian purposes,” he said in a statement first reported by EuroNews. “Unfortunately, this group did not adhere to these commitments and violated the agreement.”

“The actions of the State Police to enforce the law have been carried out as in any other part of the territory of the Republic of Albania.”

The minister also denied there were any fatalities or injuries as a result from the day’s raid and said that, according to state police officials, “there was resistance within the camp against the work of the State Police, which goes against the procedural framework of law enforcement.”


The Sunday Post     |     By Struan Stevenson     |     June 13, 2023

Last month, 82 members of the Scottish parliament signed a statement affirming their support for protesters in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Their majority support was revealed at a special meeting in Westminster, on Wednesday, attended by MPs and peers from all parties. The document signed by the 82 MSPs also recognized the nature and importance of the underlying movement for regime change.

This declaration is of key importance, as it comes at a time when the Iranian regime is working tirelessly to promote the idea that the status quo has been reestablished across the country, following the most recent nationwide uprising that began last September, after the 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, was killed by morality police’ in Tehran.

In fact, the clerical regime is still struggling to restore order, facing the dawning realization that it may never succeed in doing so.

Women continue to go about their daily lives without wearing the legally mandated hijab.

Meanwhile, videos continue to reach social media from cities and towns across the country, showing that young women and men are still chanting provocative, anti-government slogans on a nightly basis.

Many of the slogans call for “death to the dictator,” deliberately recognizing no difference between the current regime’s supreme leader and the Shah who was overthrown in 1979, despite the surprise re-emergence of the Shah’s son, Reza Pahlavi. The recurring nationwide protests have been coordinated since at least 2014 by a network of “Resistance Units” affiliated with the leading pro-democracy opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, or MEK. This group stands at the head of a coalition known as the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which in turn has designated someone to serve as transitional president after the mullahs are overthrown.

That official, Maryam Rajavi, has outlined a ten-point plan for Iran’s future, which lays the groundwork for the country’s transition to a secular-democratic system, of the kind that would fit seamlessly in the modern community of nations.

The plan provides 85 million repressed and impoverished Iranians with something worth fighting for, so it is little wonder that they have continued to push for regime change over the course of the past eight months, in open defiance of a brutal crackdown, which has left more than 750 people dead and precipitated a surge of executions by the regime, designed to terrorize the dissenters.

At the same time, Mrs. Rajavi’s ten-point plan also provides the UK and other Western powers with something concrete to support.

With the statement on Iran signed by the majority of members of the Scottish Parliament, that knowledge gap is now being filled and the international community will begin to understand what could be accomplished by the broad adoption of assertive policies toward the Iranian regime – specifically policies that aim to offer a viable, democratic alternative to that tyrannical regime.

Toward that end, this statement is urging the British government, the EU and its member states to sever existing ties with the Islamic Republic and to follow the US example in blacklisting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. The statement also asks Western governments, the International Criminal Court, and all other relevant bodies to demand legal accountability from those Iranian officials and institutions that have violated human rights en masse, both before and during the latest Iranian uprising. In a breakthrough that has rocked the Iranian regime and fired a shot across the bows of western appeasers, 109 former world leaders have joined Scotland’s MSPs in signing a similar joint statement of solidarity with the people of Iran, showing their support for the opposition NCRI and its key constituent organization – the MEK.

A solid majority of the Scottish Parliament, including members from all parties and a dozen different committee chairs, have now formally recognized that the Iranian people reject all forms of dictatorship and are working to establish a secular, democratic system based on the rule of law. It is fair to say that there is no cause more worthy of support from democratic governments.

Amnesty International     |     June 1, 2023
The Iranian authorities are carrying out a horrific state-sanctioned killing spree under the guise of judicial executions. Those executed include people convicted of drug-related offences, protesters, political dissidents, and members of oppressed ethnic minorities. Call for states to urgently intervene to pressure the Iranian authorities to halt all executions now.  

What is the problem? 
The Iranian authorities are ruthlessly carrying out an execution spree. Prisons across the country have become sites of mass state-sanctioned killings under the guise of judicial executions. Since the start of 2023, authorities have implemented hundreds of death sentences. In the month of May alone, authorities executed three people a day on average. This arbitrary deprivation of people’s lives must stop.

Authorities have executed individuals in relation to drug-related offences, protesters and political dissidents. The death penalty is also used to target oppressed minority groups. This year, members of Iran’s Baluchi ethnic minority account for around 20% of recorded executions while making up only about 5% of Iran’s population.

In the first five months of this year, executions of people convicted of drug-related offences tripled compared to the same period last year, and are predominantly affecting the most impoverished communities. The authorities also executed individuals for their social media posts and for sexual relations between consenting adults.

The Iranian authorities are intensifying their use of the death penalty as a tool of political repression. They are using this ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment to torment and terrorize people in Iran and impose silence and subservience through brute force.

What can you do to help?
Sign the petition and urge states to immediately call on Iran to impose an official moratorium on all executions, send representatives to visit prisons holding people sentenced to death and seek attendance at trials of those charged with capital crimes. Given the crisis of impunity for mass arbitrary executions, states must also pursue meaningful pathways for holding Iranian officials to account.

The Washington Post     |     Babak Dehghanpisheh     |      April 26, 2023

It was 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday when the teacher began receiving frantic calls. There had been a gas attack on the girls elementary school where she taught, in the Kurdish region of western Iran.

She had not been in class that April morning but rushed to the school and found a chaotic scene: Students and a few of her fellow teachers were having difficulty breathing and said their eyes were burning. Some of the teachers had been beaten by furious parents and were crying, she said. Agents from the Ministry of Intelligence had arrived to investigate.

The teacher spoke to The Washington Post on the condition that her name and the location of her school not be revealed, fearing retaliation from the government.

In recent months across Iran, about 300 suspected gas attacks have hit more than 100 girls schools, according to Amnesty International. Deputy Health Minister Saeed Karimi said last month that 13,000 students had been treated for symptoms of suspected poisoning, according to the Shargh daily newspaper. No deaths were reported.

The attacks began in November in the holy city of Qom. A lull occurred when schools were closed for Nowruz, the Iranian new year, in late March. But the attacks appear to have picked up again over the past couple of weeks as schools reopened, sparking widespread panic and confusion.

“The parents are really scared, and a lot of them won’t send their kids to school anymore,” the teacher said in a telephone interview. “Some parents have said they are willing to have their child held back a year at school just to keep them out of danger.”

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in early March that those behind the attacks must be brought to justice. Soon after, the Ministry of Interior announced that more than 100 people in 11 provinces had been arrested. “Among those arrested are individuals with hostile motives with the goal of creating fear and panic among the people and students and to close schools and create a negative view toward the authorities,” the ministry said in a statement in the publication Hamshahri.

No charges appear to have been filed against those arrested.

The head of the Iranian parliament’s education committee, Alireza Monadi, said last month that tests conducted by the Ministry of Health had detected nitrogen gas in schools in Qom. But there has been no official government statement identifying what gas or gases may have been used.

“These have been very organized and coordinated attacks. It can’t be random people doing that,” said Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the director of the Norway-based organization Iran Human Rights. “It’s either groups with the blessing of the authorities or forces within the authorities.”

A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not respond to a request for comment.

The teacher in the Kurdish region said her colleagues reported smelling bleach and rotten fruit before falling ill. After the suspected attacks, schoolgirls have been hospitalized with symptoms including heart palpitations, vomiting and numbness in their limbs, according to Amnesty.

Two weeks ago, a 65-year-old man took his elderly mother to a hospital in the northeast city of Mashhad and found the lobby filled with about a dozen schoolgirls who he said were coughing and panting. He filmed the scene on his phone and shared the video with The Post.

The man said in an interview that he talked to one of the girls, who described sitting in class when she smelled something like sewage before feeling dizzy and short of breath.

Women and girls have been at the forefront of the anti-government uprising that erupted in September after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict laws on female dress and died in the custody of Iran’s “morality police.”

As the protests spread, hundreds of girls took off their headscarves at school and chanted anti-government slogans. In one video widely shared on social media in October, dozens of schoolgirls, many of them without the hijab, confronted a Ministry of Education official in the city of Karaj and chased him off the campus.

Women burning their headscarves became a defining image of the demonstrations, which have died down in recent weeks amid an increasingly brutal government crackdown. At least 530 people have been killed by security forces and nearly 20,000 detained, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency. But some women and girls continue to protest the hijab law more casually — refusing to cover themselves in public while going about their daily activities.

“The issue of hijab and women is an Achilles’ heel for the leaders of the Islamic republic,” Mohammad Habibi, a spokesman for the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association, told The Post in an interview from Tehran last month.

“The setting aside of forced hijab and the visibility of this at the social level was definitely not acceptable for the authorities, especially religious and extremist elements,” he added. “They could not accept this open social atmosphere.”

Habibi was arrested on April 5 and taken to Evin prison, his wife Khadijeh Pakzamir tweeted. On April 11, she tweeted that phone communication with him had been cut off.

Organized attacks against women have happened before in Iran. In 2014, at least four women were sprayed in the face with acid in the city of Isfahan in what many suspected was a campaign by religious extremists to enforce conservative dress codes. At the time, the government came under similar criticism for not pursuing the case more aggressively. Although arrests were made, no one was charged in the attacks.

The government has tried to point to other possible causes for the illnesses at girls schools, according to activists and health-care workers. Official meetings have been organized at hospitals to inform medical personnel about the Ministry of Health’s protocols for dealing with suspected poisoning cases.

Doctors have been told they should console the victims and their families and tell them it is a stress-related issue, a psychiatrist who attended two recent meetings at a hospital in northern Mazandaran province said in an interview. They also spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity, fearing backlash from the authorities.

The World Health Organization told The Post that it “has offered support to [Iran’s] Ministry of Health in the management of these events from a public health perspective” and that an expert team “is on standby for deployment should this be requested.”

The teacher at the elementary school in the Kurdish region said that two of her colleagues were hospitalized after the suspected gas attack. She said one of them told her last week that she was still experiencing terrible headaches and numbness in her hands and feet.

Intelligence agents have returned to the school several times, she said, interviewing administrators and confiscating CCTV footage. The principal of the school told her that agents appeared to be looking for footage of parents, some of whom chanted anti-government slogans and argued with them.

“Many people suspect the government is responsible,” said the teacher. “They say that the government is trying to discourage girls from coming to school or that the government doesn’t want the ‘woman, life, freedom’ movement to start up again.”

Panic spreads in Iran after new suspected poison attacks on girls schools


Amnesty International     |     March 16, 2023

Iran’s intelligence and security forces have been committing horrific acts of torture, including beatings, flogging, electric shocks, rape and other sexual violence against child protesters as young as 12 to quell their involvement in nationwide protests, said Amnesty International today.

Marking six months of the unprecedented popular uprising in Iran, sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, Amnesty International reveals the violence meted out to children arrested during and in the aftermath of protests. The research exposes the torture methods that the Revolutionary Guards, the paramilitary Basij, the Public Security Police and other security and intelligence forces used against boys and girls in custody to punish and humiliate them and to extract forced “confessions.”

“Iranian state agents have torn children away from their families and subjected them to unfathomable cruelties. It is abhorrent that officials have wielded such power in a criminal manner over vulnerable and frightened children, inflicting severe pain and anguish upon them and their families and leaving them with severe physical and mental scars. This violence against children exposes a deliberate strategy to crush the vibrant spirit of the country’s youth and stop them from demanding freedom and human rights,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The authorities must immediately release all children detained solely for peacefully protesting. With no prospect of effective impartial investigations into the torture of children domestically, we call on all states to exercise universal jurisdiction over Iranian  officials, including those with a command or superior responsibility, reasonably suspected of  criminal responsibility for crimes under international law, including the torture of child  protesters.”

Since the start of Amnesty International’s investigations into the Iranian authorities’ brutal crackdown on the uprising, the organization has documented the cases of seven children in detail. The organization obtained testimonies from the victims and their families, as well as further testimonies on the widespread commission of torture against scores of children from 19 eyewitnesses, including two lawyers and 17 adult detainees who were held alongside children. The victims and eyewitnesses interviewed were from provinces across Iran, including East Azerbaijan, Esfahan, Golestan, Kermanshah, Khorasan-e  Razavi, Khuzestan, Lorestan, Mazandaran, Sistan and Baluchestan, Tehran, and Zanjan.

Amnesty International has removed any reference to identifying details, such as the ages of the children and the provinces in which they were detained, in order to protect them and their families against reprisals.


Iranian authorities have admitted that the total number of people detained in connection with the protests was above 22,000. While they have not provided a breakdown of how many of those detained were children, state media reported that children comprised a significant portion of protesters. Based on testimonies of dozens of detainees from across the country who witnessed security forces detaining scores of children, coupled with the fact that children and youth have been at the forefront of protests, Amnesty International estimates that thousands of children could have been among those swept up in the wave of arrests.

Amnesty International’s findings indicate that arrested children, like adults, were first taken, often while blindfolded, to detention centers run by the Revolutionary Guards, the Ministry of Intelligence, the Public Security Police, the investigation unit of Iran’s police (Agahi) or the Basij paramilitary force. After days or weeks of incommunicado detention or enforced disappearance, they were moved to recognized prisons. Plainclothes agents abducted others from the streets during or in the aftermath of protests, took them to unofficial places such as warehouses, where they tortured them before abandoning them in remote locations. Such abductions were conducted without any due process and were intended to punish, intimidate and deter children from participating in protests.

Many children have been held alongside adults, contrary to international standards, and subjected to the same patterns of torture and other ill-treatment. A former adult detainee told Amnesty International that, in one province, Basij agents forced several boys to stand with their legs apart in a line alongside adult detainees and administered electric shocks to their genital area with stun guns.

Most of the children arrested over the past six months appear to have been released, sometimes on bail pending investigations or referral to trial. Many were only released after being forced to sign “repentance” letters and promising to refrain from “political activities” and to attend pro-government rallies.

Before releasing them, state agents often threatened children with the prosecution on charges carrying the death penalty or with the arrest of their relatives if they complained.

In at least two cases documented by Amnesty International, despite the threat of reprisals, victims’ families filed official complaints before judicial authorities, but none were investigated.


Amnesty International’s documentation also reveals that state agents used rape and other sexual violence, including electric shocks to genitals, touching genitals, and rape threats as a weapon against child detainees to break their spirits, humiliate and punish them,

and/or extract “confessions.” This pattern is also widely reported by adult women and men detainees.

State agents also hurled sexual slurs at detained girls and accused them of wanting to bare their naked bodies simply for protesting for women’s and girls’ rights and defying compulsory veiling.

One mother told Amnesty International that state agents raped her son with a hosepipe while he forcibly disappeared. She said:

“My son told me: ‘They hung [me] to the point that I felt like my arms were about to rip off. I was forced to say what they wanted because they raped me with a hosepipe. They were taking my hand and forcibly making me fingerprint the papers’.”


Security forces regularly beat children at the time of arrest, in vehicles during transfer, and in detention centers. Other torture methods recounted include floggings, administering electric shocks using stun guns, the forced administration of unidentified pills, and holding children’s heads underwater.

In one case, several schoolboys were abducted for writing the protest slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom” on a wall. A relative of one of the victims told Amnesty International that plainclothes state agents abducted the boys, took them to an unofficial location, tortured and threatened to rape them, and then dumped them semi-conscious in a remote area hours later. The boy told the relative:

“They gave us electric shocks, hit me in my face with the back of a gun, gave electric shocks to my back and beat me on my feet, back and hands with batons. They threatened that if we told anyone, they would  [detain us again], do even worse and deliver our corpses to our families.”

Victims and families told Amnesty International how state agents also choked children, suspended them from their arms or from scarves wrapped around their necks, and forced them to perform humiliating acts.

One boy recounted:

“They told us [over a dozen people] to make chicken noises for half an hour – for so long that we ‘lay eggs’.  They forced us to do push-ups for one hour. I was the only child there. In another detention center, they put 30 of us in a cage made for five people.”

State agents also used psychological torture, including death threats, to punish and intimidate children and/or compel them to make forced “confessions”. State media has broadcast the “forced confessions” of at least two boys detained during protests.

The mother of a girl who was detained by the Revolutionary Guards told Amnesty International:

“They accused her of burning headscarves, insulting the Supreme Leader and wanting to overthrow [the  Islamic Republic], and told her she will be sentenced to death. They threatened her not to tell anyone … They forced her to sign and fingerprint documents. She has nightmares and doesn’t go anywhere. She can’t even read her schoolbooks.”

Children were also held in cruel and inhuman detention conditions, including extreme overcrowding, poor access to toilet and washing facilities, deprivation of sufficient food and potable water, exposure to extreme cold and prolonged solitary confinement. Girls were held by all-male security forces with no regard for their gender-specific needs.  Children were also denied adequate medical care, including for injuries sustained under torture.


Bipartisan House Resolution Rejects Monarchic, Religious Dictatorship, Endorses a Republic in Iran

Townhall     |     Majid Rafizadeh     |     Feb 15, 2023

As we marked the 44th anniversary of the 1979 revolution in Iran, we were reminded of the transformative power of people’s movements to bring about change. The overthrow of the Pahlavi monarchy and the establishment of a republic in Iran held great promise for the people, but it was quickly subverted by Khomeini and his reactionary mullahs, who have since been responsible for unimaginable human rights abuses, terrorism, regional destabilization, and the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Since September, the Iranian theocracy has faced a wave of social upheaval and mass protests demanding democratic change. Women, young people, and scores of others have taken to the streets to call for a secular republic that respects their individual rights and freedoms. These calls have not gone unheard, as evidenced by a significant conference held on Capitol Hill this month, where several US lawmakers introduced House Resolution 100, calling for a democratic, secular, and non-nuclear republic in Iran.

The resolution currently has an unprecedented number of 165 bipartisan cosponsors, and it strongly condemns the violations of human rights and state-sponsored terrorism of the Iranian regime. Furthermore, it rejects both the Shah’s deposed monarchy and the ruling theocracy, and voices support for a democratic and secular republic in Iran.

A senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Tom McClintock, said the measure expresses the united support of the American people for the Iranian people in their struggle for a better future. It is also noteworthy that the resolution strongly condemns the violations of human rights and the state-sponsored terrorism of the Iranian regime.

Moreover, it rejects both the Shah’s deposed dictatorship and ruling theocracy, and voices support for a democratic and secular republic in Iran.

Addressing the congressional conference, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Maryam Rajavi, rightly pointed out the significance of Congress’s move, adding that it sends a clear message to the people of Iran that they are not alone in their fight for freedom and democracy.

The Iranian people’s passion for freedom and their commitment to liberating their homeland is an inspiration to all who know them. Congress has done the right thing by joining voices with a growing chorus calling for liberty and justice in Iran.

This resolution is a significant step forward in the fight for democracy in Iran, and it sends a message to the regime in Iran that the world is watching. The people of the United States and the international community stand firmly behind the protesters and the people that Tehran is oppressing and killing.

Despite its ebbs and flows, the ongoing revolution in Iran is destined to succeed because there are numerous signs that the people are rejecting all forms of dictatorship, including the Shah’s monarchy that devastated the country’s socio-political progress until 1979. Iranians are now looking only to the future, which will see the establishment of a democratic republic based on the separation of religion and state, and gender equality.

It is time for the regime in Iran to change. This is a regime that has responded to peaceful protests with violence, massacres, torture, and imprisonment. It must be held accountable for its crimes against humanity, including the massacre of political prisoners in 1988. Otherwise, the regime’s murder machine will continue to outpace international condemnations.

Some 10,000 Iranian supporters of the NCRI who rallied in the street of Paris this past Sunday echoed the same message, calling on the European Union to end its appeasement of Iran and support a democratic, secular republic in Iran. They were joined by John Bercow, the former Speaker of the British Parliament, and Ingrid Betancourt, former Columbian Senator and Presidential Candidates, who voiced support for the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran.

The world cannot stand by and watch as the people of Iran are denied their basic rights. Adopting the example of the US Congress, the world must take action to support the people of Iran in their fight for freedom and democracy. Not the just the future of Iran, but that of the entire region and the world is at stake. A democratic Iran will benefit everyone. The scourge of the mullahs should end, not tomorrow, but today.

Bipartisan Senators Support Iran Uprising, Call for Increased Pressure on Iran Ayatollahs
by OIAC      |     December 8, 2022

At the US Senate Kennedy Caucus Room, bipartisan Senators expressed support for Iran protesters seeking democratic change & called for more sanctions

WASHINGTON, DC – At a briefing held in the historic Senate Kennedy Caucus Room, bipartisan Senators and prominent policy experts expressed support for nationwide protests for democratic change in Iran and called for additional pressure on the clerical regime.

Addressing the event virtually, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-Elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran said, “All evidence suggests that the regime has reached the point of no return in the final phase of its rule. The Shah’s dictatorship had a well-equipped army of 400,000 men, but it could not overcome the will of the Iranian people.” “Why a child-killing regime that brutally represses women and imposes discrimination against them is a member of the UN institutions. Is this not an insult to humanity? The Iranian Resistance expects the US Senate to lead an initiative to expel the regime from UNICEF.”

I’d like to thank & recognize the National Council of Resistance of Iran for their commitment to elevating your voices, the voices of Iranians inside of Iran & constantly advocating for their freedom”

— Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
In his speech, Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) who Chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said, “Let me start off by thanking the Organization of Iranian American Communities for putting together today’s event on Capitol Hill. I’m thrilled to see so many Iranian Americans from across the country, and I’d like to thank and recognize the National Council of Resistance of Iran for their commitment to elevating your voices, the voices of Iranians inside of Iran and constantly advocating for the freedom of the Iranian people.” The spilling of protesters’ blood should never, never, never be normalized, he noted and then added, “and the United States and the international community cannot be silenced. And that’s why just this week, we passed my Senate Concurrent Resolution 47 commending the bravery of Iranian protesters on behalf of the United States government.” He concluded, “Let us continue to protect those in Ashraf 3 and I am committed to doing that. Let’s keep fighting the senseless repression of women and girls.”

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “We live in a historic times and historic moment, so I stand with Jeanne [Senator Shaheen] to see what we can do to lend our voice to the people who have been out in the streets, the villages, and the towns of Iran saying enough is enough. I think we have reached the point now in the 21st century where it is a time of choosing and I choose the people of Iran over the Ayatollahs.”

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) referenced ongoing protests and said, “and we are standing in awe with what is happening in Iran, but it is not enough to be impressed by their bravery. We must also stand in lockstep with the people of Iran as they struggle to take back their lives and freedoms.” She urged the Biden administration to enforce existing sanctions and place additional sanctions on clerical regime officials and entities.”

Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) concurred and said, “I think we have to put maximum pressure on the Iranian leadership…To the Iranian people, and to Iranian Americans, know that I stand with you every step of the way.” He then added, “ I will stand with you every step along the way and hopefully, we will see a change so that tens of millions of honest, hardworking, freedom-seeking Iranians begin to enjoy their freedoms.”

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) said, “I see this extraordinary courage by women and girls [In Iran] who are pricking the consciousness of our world, who are calling the moral imagination of their own people, who are fighting not just for basic rights and freedom but are also what should be, to me, fundamental for all humanity, this idea of human dignity and respect.”

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) said, “When the government has to raid the biggest university to keep people subjugated, there is clearly a problem there that the world needs to stand up for. People are willing to risk their lives and even give their lives for freedom, the least we can do is everything we can possibly do to encourage that and to support that.” He added, “I’ve been working for some time now with the government in Albania, and I went to Albania to see people once . The U.S. Embassy in Albania could be much more helpful than they are. We continue to encourage that.”

Senator John Boozman (R-AR) said, “I think you know most of us are firmly in your corner. My commitment is to help in any way that we can, certainly on the topic of nuclear weapons and human rights.”

Speaking to the women of Iran, Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) noted, “I want to say loudly and clearly that we are moved by your courage and your strength. And to all Iranians calling for their fundamental rights to be respected, let me say loudly and clearly that the United States stands with you. We are calling for an immediate end to the barbaric detention of peaceful protesters, an immediate end to the blatant human rights violations.”

Former Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) said, “there is one leader that has been working on this for decades, who has seen this revolution coming for a long time and has supported it, and that is Mrs. Rajavi, the President elect of the NCRI. It was beautiful to hear her today and Mrs. Rajavi has had the foresight to predict that women would lead this revolution. In a speech 17 years ago, she said, “In the tragedy of women in our enchained homeland, Iran, women’s human identity has been denied, but I assure you that those oppressed today will be the victors of tomorrow.”

Former Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and former U.S. Ambassador Marc Ginsberg also addressed the briefing.

Mrs. Sheila Neinavaei and Mrs. Mitra Samani who had spent seven and four years respectively in the notorious Evin Prison outlined harrowing conditions of political prisoners in Iran as well as their own experiences. Dr. Soolmaz Abooali, a fifteen-time U.S. national and three-time world champion in traditional karate moderated this event.