Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
I would first of all like to thank Mr. Lingas, Mrs. Nybaak and all those in the Committee in Defense of Human Rights in Iran for all the work they have done to defend the rights of the Iranian people.
It is a source of great pleasure to be among the leading thinkers, intellectuals and representatives of a nation which for many years heroically resisted against foreign occupation and the reign of Hitler's fascism, liberated itself and instituted a society which is doubtless one of the most advanced democracies in the contemporary world. It is a society wherein women have a leading role in guiding its affairs, in and of itself the most realistic and best hallmark of democracy in today's world.
I am therefore confident that I am speaking to an audience which well understands the suffering of an enchained nation of 70 million, who for the last 16 years have been subjugated by a brutal religious fascism that has eliminated all vestiges of democracy and popular sovereignty. Norway's policy of distancing herself from the conventional conciliatory approach to the Khomeini regime, and paying heed to human rights and the resistance in Iran, assures our people that democracy and justice have an adamant advocate in today's world. The formation of the Norwegian Committee in Defense of Human Rights in Iran itself best reflects this commitment to and respect for the principles of human rights and justice by Norway's political, cultural, social, artistic and literary personalities.
Allow me to use this opportunity to outline the issues which, in my view, must be considered by the international community. What is transpiring in my fettered country, Iran, namely the reign of the mullahs' medieval religious dictatorship, not only represents a national catastrophe for all Iranians, but is also a source of a global problem and danger threatening stability and peace the world over.
Firstly, the mullahs have extended their state-sponsored terrorism across Asia, Africa, the United States, and Europe, including Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France and Norway.
Secondly, the clerics are exporting the cultural and political dimensions of fundamentalism, especially to Islamic countries and various Muslim societies. This is followed by an expansion of the fundamentalist extremist networks.
Thirdly, they opposes peace and advocate turmoil everywhere, as reflected in their regime's enmity to the Middle East peace process.
Today, virtually everyone is aware of the crimes perpetrated by Khomeini's anti-human regime within and without Iran. You know that the clerics have executed 100,000 of the best youth of my country purely for political reasons, for opposing the ruling dictatorship, and for defending freedom and democracy. The names and particulars of 16,000 of them have been complied in this book. The victims include intellectuals, university students and faculty, high school students, teenage girls, pregnant women, elderly women, businessmen, merchants and even dissident clerics. In many cases, several members of a single family have been executed. Many more have been subjected to the most barbaric, medieval tortures. Nor is the appalling predicament of women under the mullahs' rule a secret.
Inconceivable atrocities are committed against women on the pretext of combating improper veiling. Everyday, thousands of women are lashed, sent to prisons or viciously assaulted and insulted. These crimes are unprecedented in other areas of the globe. The rulers of Iran brazenly carry out hideous crimes under the banner of Islam. According to Khomeini's fatwa, virgin girls are raped by the Revolutionary Guards prior to execution to prevent them from going to heaven. Those condemned to death have their blood drained before execution.
The export of terrorism, fundamentalism and belligerence of this regime, under the banner of Islam and revolution, is another well-established fact. It is evident in the regime's insistence on perpetuating the unpatriotic war with Iraq, which lasted some eight years and left millions dead or wounded and $1000 billion in economic damages on the Iranian side alone; in its enmity to Middle East peace; in its interference in the affairs of Islamic countries; in its decree to murder foreign nationals; and in its more than 100 terrorist operations throughout the world. The echo of these despicable criminals' bullets still lingers in this city.
And it is clear to everyone that the regime has adopted policies of setting up intelligence, propaganda and terrorist networks in other countries; allocating astronomical funds to procure conventional arms, and biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction; and especially of endeavoring to obtain nuclear weaponry - all to back up the export of fundamentalism and to secure the survival of the religious dictatorship.
I shall refrain from further elaborating on the regime's crimes and conspiracies. In the time that I have, I wish to address a pivotal issue: How to confront this regime and the fundamentalism and terrorism it fosters. This issue is key, because on the international level, all approaches and policies vis-à-vis the mullahs' religious, terrorist dictatorship have proven futile. Indeed, in many cases they have been taken advantage of by the regime, which has been the only party to benefit from them.
For many years, particularly following Khomeini's death, Western countries indulged in a quest for a moderate current within the regime. They pinned their hopes on improving the regime's behavior through economic engagement. Simultaneously, a number of big powers invested in a policy of appeasement in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with Tehran, and prevent the export of terrorism to their own countries. Consistent with this approach, the official European policy toward Iran today is one of critical dialogue. The experience of the past 16 years has confirmed, however, that none of these policies has borne fruit. They have failed to have any impact on the conduct of this international outlaw.
A symbolic and quite fitting example is the inhuman and anti-Islamic fatwa against Salman Rushdie. About seven years have passed since the decree was issued. All European efforts to change the status quo through dialogue, discussion and economic and political incentives have proven futile. Khomeini's successors have time and again reiterated that the decree must be implemented. For seven years, the regime has used the Rushdie affair as a bargaining chip in seeking more concessions from the West. The atrocities that this regime perpetrates against its own citizens are beyond description. Needless to say, the moderation of such a regime is but a mirage.
It is ironic that when even the Khomeini regime's first prime minister, Mehdi Bazargan, acknowledged in an interview with the German daily Frankfurter Rundschau in January that the mullahs have the support of less than five percent of the Muslim people of Iran, and lack both religious and social legitimacy, the international community nevertheless allows Tehran to promote their evil anti-Islamic, anti-human objectives among Muslims elsewhere, turn Western countries into hunting grounds for their opponents, and blackmail European countries by staging terrorist operations on their soil to promote their evil anti-Islamic, anti-human objectives among Muslims elsewhere, turn Western countries into hunting grounds for their opponents, and blackmail European countries by staging terrorist operations on their soil. Indeed, the extensive economic and political support provided by a number of countries, coupled with the kowtowing by certain circles to the terrorist mullahs' political blackmail, have been instrumental in prolonging this regime and delaying the establishment of democracy in Iran by the Iranian people and Resistance.
Misperceptions about mullahs, source of appeasement
In my view, beyond economic interests or fear of terrorism - which in many cases justify and give impetus to them - these misguided policies and drastic miscalculations stem from the lack of a correct, objective understanding of the nature of the Khomeini regime, and of the roots and extent of its fundamentalist, backward outlook. For precisely this reason, these countries lose sight of the regional and international implications of their approach. This misperception of the regime's durability is compounded by a comparable deficiency in objective appraisals or knowledge of the legitimate, democratic alternative to this regime, which is capable of bringing democracy to Iran.
Although there are fundamental differences between the Khomeini regime and Hitler's fascism, in terms of their political, economic and military capabilities, a parallel may nonetheless be drawn with the conciliatory treatment of Germany by some European countries in the years preceding the Second World War. This policy of acquiescence, embodied in the Munich agreement of 1938 or the relations between the Soviet Union and Hitler's Germany until even the first or the second year of the war, stemmed from the notion that certain concessions at the expense of other countries, who were abandoned in their Resistance against fascism, would stop German expansionism. Hitler benefited greatly from the policy, which enabled him to advance his goals.
Today, due to the experience of the past 16 years, a more profound understanding of the clerical regime's nature has emerged and, in a few cases, a more realistic policy has been adopted. Here, allow me, on behalf of a Resistance movement which for 16 years has waged an all-out cultural, ideological and political struggle against this regime, to briefly share with you our knowledge and awareness of this regime. This understanding and our consequent principled policies have enabled us to resist against the most ruthless dictator of contemporary history and prevent him from casting us aside. In fact, we have experienced continuous expansion and growth.
Misperceptions of the regime have not only led to mistaken policies by the international community. For the same reason, many Iranian political parties and groups regrettably failed to stand up to this religious, terrorist dictatorship, surrendered to it, or were eliminated altogether from the Iranian political landscape.
The notion of the Velayt-e Faqih:
In reality, the outlook and conduct of Khomeini and his regime neither belong to our age, nor compare to most dictatorships that have emerged in the twentieth century. This regime represents the most retrogressive form of medieval, sectarian dictatorship. Having failed to alleviate any of Iranian society's problems or needs, it is attempting to impose itself under the guise of Islam on the people of the world, especially Muslims.
The mullah's religious dictatorship is based on the philosophy of Velayat-e Faqih, presented in its present form for the first time by Khomeini. He explains his views in his book, "Islamic Rule or Velayat-e Faqih," written in the 1960s. His theory is based on the one hand upon imposing absolute authority over the populace, and on the other upon extending this authority to all Muslims, i.e. "exporting revolution."
In his book Khomeini states: "The Velayat-e Faqih is like appointing a guardian for a minor. In terms of responsibility and status, the guardian of a nation is no different from the guardian of a minor." These are Khomeini's exact words. During his reign, he repeated several times that if the entire population advocated something to which he was opposed, he would nevertheless do as he saw fit.
He went as far as to write: "If a competent person arises and forms a government, his authority to administer the society's affairs is the same as that of Prophet Muhammad. Everyone (meaning Muslims everywhere) must obey him. The idea that the Prophet had more authority as a ruler than His Holiness Imam Ali [the first Shi'ite Imam], or that the latter's authority exceeded that of the Vali is incorrect."
With these words, Khomeini granted himself the same authority as the Prophet of God, but he did not stop there. Twenty some years later, in 1988, he wrote an open letter, published in the regime's dailies, lashing out at some views suggesting that "government authority is contained within the bounds of divine edicts." Khomeini wrote: "... The Velayat takes precedence over all secondary commandments, even prayer, fasting, and the hajj... The government is empowered to unilaterally abrogate the religious commitments it has undertaken with the people... The statements made, or being made, derive from a lack of knowledge of divinely ordained absolute rule..."
In this way, Khomeini propagated the notion of the Velayat-e Motlaqeh Faqih (absolute rule of the jurist), something which his heirs and theoreticians within the regime went to extremes to stress. Mullah Ahmad Azari-Qomi, one of the most authoritative theoreticians of the Velayat-e Faqih notion, wrote: "The Velayat-e Faqih means absolute religious and legal guardianship of the people by the Faqih. This guardianship applies to the entire world and all that exist in it, whether earthbound or flying creatures, inanimate objects, plants, animals, and anything in any way related to collective or individual human life, all human affairs, belongings, or assets..."
This worldview, as practiced by Khomeini and his regime, culminates in absolute ruthlessness and oppression when dealing with the issue of women. Azari-Qomi writes about the marriage of virgin girls thus: "Islam prohibits the marriage of a virgin girl without the permission of her father and her own consent. Both of them must agree. But the Vali-e Faqih is authorized to overrule the father or the girl." In other words, the Vali-e Faqih can forcibly marry a girl without her own or her father's consent. In this way, this regime not only applies maximum political suppression on the citizenry, but interferes in the most personal affairs of their lives, from compulsory veiling to varied forms of discrimination against women, to banning smiles and stoning women to death.
Misogyny is the most fundamental feature of the Velayat-e Faqih, and the structure of the clerical regime's system rests upon de-humanizing women. As far as women in the work force are concerned, their opportunities are less than 10% of those of their male counterparts. This ratio decreases as the quality of the job or its political nature increases. No women manage the affairs of the society, particularly its political leadership. The regime's constitution absolutely and unequivocally bans women from judgeships, the presidency and leadership.
All evaluations and laws within this regime are based on the precept that women are weak and the property of men, for which reason they have no place in leading or managing the society. A woman must stay at home, rear children and cook, the tasks for which she has been created.
The official, legal deprivations and restrictions, and even statistics represent only a small part of the gender apartheid. Its more significant aspect is in the spirit of the anti-human relationships emanating from this regime, to the extent that one woman wrote in a state-controlled daily that it makes women regret that they were created as women in the first place. Indeed, it is these relationships which force women, especially young women, to set themselves on fire in utter despair under the mullahs' reign.
The mullahs' misogyny has given rise to horrifying crimes. The wholesale execution of thousands of women, even pregnant women, is unique to this regime. The flogging and torturing of women in public, execution methods such as firing bullets into their wombs, the "residential quarters" in prisons designed to totally destroy these defenseless woman, and the multitudes of tortures and atrocities invented by the mullahs, demonstrate the unparalleled savagery of their enmity toward women. Why does the regime so barbarously and relentlessly suppresses women? What explains the clerics' misogyny?
The foundations erected by Khomeini's religious despotism and the installation of the regime's suppressive institutions and forces have been fortified by promoting and reinforcing gender-based distinctions and discrimination. In the name of religion and such pretexts as improper veiling, the clerics suppress women, eliminating them from the social scene.
This enmity toward women is not, however, merely a by-product of the mullahs' reactionary beliefs. If the clerics show the slightest laxity in their misogyny and gender-apartheid, allowing women to enter the social arena free of the reactionary restrictions unique to this regime, the mullahs' suppressive organs and institutions throughout society would lose their raison d'etre. The clerical regime, a religious dictatorship, would subsequently lose its vitality, because the dynamism and conduct of the repressive forces in defending the theocracy is, before anything else, rooted in safeguarding gender-distinctions under the pretext of defending "Islamic rule."
As far as the regime's foreign policy and the export of terrorism are concerned, both Khomeini and his successors pursue specific goals, unequivocally defined. Following Khomeini's death, Rafsanjani stressed: "Islamic Iran is the base for all Muslims the world over," adding that Khomeini "truly and deeply hated the idea that we be limited by nationalism, by race, or by our own territory." Elsewhere he says: "Iran is the base of the new movements of the world of Islam... The eyes of Muslims worldwide are focused here..."
The book Principles of Foreign Policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, published by the Iranian regime's foreign ministry, states: "Islam recognizes only one boundary, purely ideological in nature. Other boundaries, including geographic borders, are rejected and condemned."
After Khomeini's death, his son Ahmad said: "Islam recognizes no borders... The objective of the Islamic Republic and its officials is none other than to establish a global Islamic rule..."
The mullahs ruling Iran dream of a global Islamic caliphate, much like the Ottoman Empire. They say the Islamic revolution will suffocate within Iran's borders and cannot be preserved without the export of revolution. Mohammad Khatami, Rafsanjani's former Minister of Islamic Culture and Guidance, who is also known as a moderate within the regime, writes: "Where do we look when drawing up our strategy? Do we look to bast(expansion) or to hefz (preservation)?" Particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the mullahs refer to the split between Trotsky and Stalin in the 1930s, noting that developments in the Soviet Union proved the validity of Trotsky's theory of a "permanent revolution," and that the only way to preserve the Islamic regime is to foment Islamic revolutions in other countries. The slogan of "liberating Qods (Jerusalem) via Karbala," with which Khomeini continued the Iran-Iraq war for eight years, reflected the strategy of "bast."
Ali-Muhammad Besharati, the current Interior Minister and former Deputy Foreign Minister, stresses that "the third millennium belongs to Islam and the rule of Muslims over the world." By Muslims, of course, he means none other than the mullahs. Mohammad-Javad Larijani, a key foreign policy advisor to Rafsanjani, said: "The true Velayat-e Faqih is in Iran. This Velayat is responsible for all of the Muslim world... One of its objectives is expansion..." Larijani is one of the regime's roving ambassadors who engages in a great deal of posturing for the Europeans. Rafsanjani recently sent him to Europe for some deceitful maneuvers concerning the Rushdie case. Khamenei's latest emphasis that the Jews must be expelled from Israel and Israel annihilated are also an extension of this policy.
I must emphasize here that the mullahs' outlook and theories about government and Velayat-e Faqih cannot be viewed as an interpretation of Islam. They are the first to offer such a criminal reading of Islam. This is unprecedented in Islamic history. Even many traditional clerics, more senior than or on par with Khomeini in Qom and Najaf seminaries, were strongly opposed to the Velayat-e Faqih perspective. In reality, the mullahs interpret Islam solely in terms of the needs and interests of their dictatorship.
The fact is that Khomeini and his clique lack any historical or political ability to govern a big nation with several thousand years of history and a rich culture. To stay in power, they see themselves as increasingly compelled to employ repression and religious tyranny inside the country, and export terrorism and fundamentalism, in an effort to expand the geographic sphere of their influence. For this reason, after Khomeini's death, contrary to all expectations that his heirs would pursue a "moderate" path, they were forced to fill the void of Khomeini's charisma, the unifying element which gave the regime religious legitimacy, with greater suppression and export of fundamentalism. The Rafsanjani regime's record of terrorist activities abroad and interference in Islamic countries and the affairs of Muslims elsewhere is far worse than when Khomeini was alive.
How did Khomeini become a national global threat Allow me to also refer to how the regime is taking advantage of Iran's cultural, political, human and geo-strategic potential in pursuing its evil objectives:
For 14 centuries, since the advent of Islam, Iran and Iranians have always played a key role in shaping and advancing the policies and cultural identity of the Islamic world. Iranians wrote most books on Shi'ite and Sunni Fiqh and Hadith, on Arabic grammar and on interpreting the Quran. In philosophy, logic, mathematics, medicine, astronomy, chemistry and other sciences of the era, Iranian scientists led the Islamic world. The books of Avecina, the renowned 11th century philosopher and physician, were translated into many languages and taught in Western universities until recently.
With an eye to Iran's vast land mass, geo-political position, population and many other factors, the country enjoys an exceptional position in the Islamic world. In the last 14 centuries, it has had a tremendous impact on Islamic countries. The mullahs have made maximum use of this potential to export their fundamentalism and advance their objectives. In other words, if a regime much like Khomeini's had assumed power in any other Islamic country, it would not have enjoyed such stature. It is not without reason that Larijani says Iran is the only country capable of leading the Islamic world. This explains why the clerical regime in Tehran serves as the heart of fundamentalism throughout the world, just as Moscow did for communism.
Many fundamentalist currents existed in Iran or elsewhere before Khomeini's ascension to power, but they were nothing more than isolated religious sects. With the establishment of an Islamic reign in Tehran, they were transformed into political and social movements, and into serious threats to peace, democracy and tranquillity.
In fact, the Khomeini regime uses propaganda, political, financial, military and ideological assistance, and beyond all these, its status as a role model and as a regional and international source of support, to direct Muslims' religious sentiments toward extremist and undemocratic trends. The mullahs exploit Islam's spirit of liberation and its call for justice and freedom, to further their medieval rule. Instead, consistent with the experience of the Resistance, the sentiments of Muslims and Islam's freedom-seeking spirit could have been and can translate into a modern and democratic movement which, while respectful of Islam, aspires to a secularist, pluralist form of government.
What's to be done?
So far, I have referred to the internal and international conduct of the Khomeini regime. Now, I wish to address the solution.
On the basis of our 16-years of experience in the struggle for democracy, the only solution is to offer a political and cultural alternative to the Khomeini regime. I say political because this alternative must overthrow the regime and replace it with a democratic, secular government. The head of the viper is in Tehran and unless crushed there, there is no hope of uprooting fundamentalism.
I say cultural because this alternative must present a democratic Islam, with a peaceful, tolerant culture compatible with science and civilization, to confront the mullahs' Velayat-e Faqih theory. Only thus can it prevent the mullahs from imposing themselves as the representatives of Islam in the minds of the people of Muslim countries.
Even before Khomeini's rule, we understood the danger of the Velayat-e Faqih, because we knew the mullahs and Khomeini intimately. While in prison in the final months before the shah's fall, the Mojahedin leader, Mr. Massoud Rajavi, repeatedly pointed to backward religious currents as the main threat to the democratic anti-shah movement and warned against the dangers of religious fascism. In 1979, Khomeini succeeded in usurping the leadership of the Iranian people's anti-dictatorial revolution, relying on marja'iat (religious leadership) for religious legitimacy, deceit and the people's lack of experience and awareness. The shah's widespread clampdown on organizations fighting for freedom, including the arrest and execution of their leaders, assisted Khomeini along the way. Relying on the overwhelming support of the people, who longed for freedom and independence, he became a dangerous force which destroyed everything in his path.
From the onset, the Mojahedin, as a democratic Muslim force, saw it incumbent upon themselves to expose Khomeini's demagoguery and false portrayal of Islam. They thus represented a cultural, ideological and political challenge to the ruling mullahs, and embarked upon a relentless campaign to explain the facts to the people. For the first time, there was a cultural alternative to the Khomeini regime.
What we knew of Islam, the Quran and the life of the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) was totally contrary to the behavior of the new rulers. Like all great religions, Islam is the religion of compassion, tolerance, emancipation and equality. The Holy Quran often states that there is no compulsion in religion. In so far as political and social life are concerned, it stresses consultation, democracy and respect for other people's views. Islam seeks social progress, and economic, social and political evolution.
Fourteen centuries ago, when people in the Arabian peninsula were burying their girl children alive, Islam accorded women equal political, social and economic identities and independence. The Prophet of Islam profoundly respected women. The first Muslim was a woman, and four out of the ten original Muslims were women.
After two and half years, the Resistance's endeavors paid off. Cracks appeared in Khomeini's religious legitimacy, and his use of the weapon of Islam began to lose its effect. No longer did the people view Khomeini and the ruling mullahs as infallible. To prolong his rule inside the country, Khomeini had resorted to a blatant crackdown. Everyone knew that the Mojahedin, the largest opposition force seeking freedom, were Muslim themselves and that Khomeini's quarrel with them was not over Islam, but over preserving his dictatorial rule. Our message defended political freedoms and the people's individual and social rights, and opposed dictatorship and the regime's misuse of Islam.
Mr. Rajavi lectured on Islamic teachings in one of Tehran's largest universities in 1980. 10,000 university students and intellectuals took part every week, and tapes and transcripts were distributed in the hundreds of thousands. The discourses exposed Khomeini's reactionary views promulgated under the banner of Islam, discrediting him among the religious youth. In a ruthless onslaught to curb the extensive influence of the Mojahedin in all universities, in spring 1980 Khomeini closed down all universities for the years to come on the pretext of a cultural revolution. For our part, we have continued our efforts in this respect as one of our primary tasks.
Another of the fundamental aspects of this cultural struggle has been to target the heart of the clerics' Velayat-e Faqih culture, namely the issue of women and the mullahs' ultra-reactionary, misogynous treatment of them. In this regard, we did not stop at simply exposing the clerics. In other words, our women, in diametric opposition to Khomeini's culture, advanced through unprecedented effort and activities and assumed heavy responsibilities at the highest levels of the Resistance.
With its unique perspective on this issue, the Iranian Resistance succeeded in incorporating women in the front lines of the movement and in the highest levels of military command, as acknowledged by most observers. In the political arena as well, we are witnessing the ascension of women to important political positions. At the organizational and management levels, the highest positions are occupied by women who have shown that when given the opportunity, they can excel in assuming responsibility. Today, 52% of members of the Resistance's parliament are women. Women fill the majority of positions within the National Liberation Army's high command. The leadership of the Mojahedin consists of a 24-member, all women council. The women of the Resistance have thus proven that, just like men, before all else it is their human qualities and consequent social and political abilities which count. They have righteously overcome all obstacles in performing their duties.
Hence, a glance at the regime and the Resistance quickly reveals two distinctly opposite cultures. Diametrically opposed to the Khomeini regime, whose very existence depends on the suppression and elimination of women, the victory and advancement of the Resistance would have been impossible without women and their role in the leadership and command. The first to attest to this fact are the male activists, combatants, and commanders, who are best aware of the glorious path that has been traversed.
It is also significant that the Resistance's elimination of the most persistent and profound form of discrimination against the most oppressed sector of society, namely women, and its fostering of relationships among people which allow women to attain their legal and social rights, is the best guarantee for democracy and pluralism in the future Iran.
A democratic alternative
Obviously, we did not stop at introducing a cultural alternative; we also gradually established a political alternative. In 1980, during the first presidential elections, Massoud Rajavi was a candidate for president. All religious and ethnic minorities, the youth, women, and opposition groups and parties supported Mr. Rajavi's candidacy. Sensing the danger, Khomeini issued a fatwa a few days before the election, banning him as a candidate because he had not voted for the Velayat-e Faqih constitution. Several months later, during the elections for parliament, the Mojahedin and other democratic forces announced a joint slate. This time, despite the many votes cast for them, the regime prevented even one of the Mojahedin candidates from taking office through widespread rigging. In each of the election rallies of the Mojahedin in Tehran and other cities, hundreds of thousands took part.
In the first two and a half years of Khomeini's rule, the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) killed 50 supporters and members of the Mojahedin in the streets. They arrested several thousand, subjecting them to brutal torture. The regime also dispatched gangs of club-wielders into the streets to clamp down on dissidents. In contrast, the Mojahedin did not fire a single bullet, relinquishing their legitimate right to self-defense to prevent more violence and bloodshed. The Mojahedin's goal was to resolve the political problems through peaceful means.
On June 20, 1981, in protest to the repression, the Mojahedin organized a peaceful demonstration. In a short span of time, some 500,000 Tehran residents joined the march. Khomeini issued a fatwa to suppress the demonstration. Guards opened fire indiscriminately, and hundreds were killed or wounded. Thousands were arrested and executed the same night in groups of several hundred.
Khomeini and other officials of his regime had realized early on, even before the overthrow of the shah, that the Mojahedin could stand against both a religious and political dictatorship, due to their freedom-seeking and tolerant interpretation of Islam and their popularity and social base. In other words, the Mojahedin were the antithesis to the clerics. In summer 1980, several days after Mr. Rajavi spoke to 200,000 Tehran residents in Amjadieh sports stadium, condemning the slaughter of the Mojahedin and dissidents in other cities, Khomeini reacted by saying that the enemy was "neither in the Soviet Union, nor in the United States, nor in Iranian Kurdistan, but right here - in Tehran."
In reality, the religious dictatorship was trying to portray democracy and popular sovereignty as contrary to Islam. In consequence, it could suppress any democratic initiative on the charge of being anti-Islamic. The mullahs relied in this tactic on the people's unawareness. Khomeini was, however, well aware that the Mojahedin would thwart his pretenses about Islam and religious legitimacy. Thus, he spared no effort against the Iranian Resistance, because he knew that if could eliminate us, he could overcome his other problems and stabilize his rule. Among the crimes the Khomeini regime perpetrated to destroy its main enemy, I can mention his order for the mass execution of all members and supporters of this Resistance, purely for being affiliated with the movement, his declaration that their lives and properties are fair game, and the assassinations of the Resistance's activists abroad.
In this way, Khomeini, who in 1979 was welcomed as a religious and political leader by millions in Tehran, continued after June 20, detested, only through the force of the bayonet, torture and execution. The people, meanwhile, were chanting death to Khomeini. As such, the only avenues which remained for the freedom-seeking and patriotic people and forces was to rid themselves of the mullahs to establish democracy.
In order for the Resistance for freedom to achieve maturity, a political alternative - a vast coalition of opposite groups - was needed. Although the basis for such a coalition had taken shape in the first presidential elections and the parliamentary elections, after the start of the extensive, all-embracing suppression, this coalition had to be formalized and transformed into a political alternative. Thus, on July 21, 1981, the National Council of Resistance was formed with the objective of establishing democracy in Iran.
After 14 years, the Council, the longest lasting democratic, political coalition in Iran's contemporary era, has 560 members. A significant number of other committed personalities, whose membership has recently been approved, will soon join it. The council encompasses the democratic opposition, the representatives of ethnic and religious minorities, nationalist figures, and Muslim, secular and socialist leaders. It acts as the Resistance's Parliament.
The Council's 25 committees will serve as the basis for the future coalition government following the mullahs' overthrow. In office for a maximum of six months, the Provisional Government's primary task is to hold free elections for a Legislative and Constituent Assembly. According to the Council's ratified decisions, in tomorrow's Iran, elections and the general vote will constitute the basis for the legitimacy of the country's future government. Freedom of belief, press, parties and political assemblies is guaranteed, as are the judicial security of all citizens and the rights stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
All privileges based on gender, creed, and beliefs will be abolished and any discrimination against the followers of different religions and denominations will be banned. No one will be granted any privilege, or discriminated against, on the basis of belief or non-belief in a particular religion or denomination.
In tomorrow's Iran, the national bazaar and capitalism, personal and private ownership and investment toward the advancement of the national economy will be guaranteed. As for foreign policy, Iran will advocate peace, peaceful coexistence, and regional and international cooperation.
According to the Council's ratified plans, in tomorrow's Iran, women will enjoy equal social, political, cultural and economic rights with men. They will have the right to elect and be elected in all elections, and the right to freely choose their occupation, education, political activity, travel, and spouse. Equal rights to divorce and freedom of choice in apparel will be guaranteed for them.
The regime's current state
In this way, 16 years after the mullahs' rule, the overwhelming majority of people, from women to workers, to employees to university faculty, intellectuals and even the bazaar merchants and clergy, who were hitherto considered the traditional basis of the regime, are deeply disaffected. Unemployment grips 50% of the labor force. With an inflation rate of over 100%, some 80% of the people live below the poverty line. Corruption and astronomical embezzlement by the regime's officials, some of which has been exposed, have eliminated any credibility the regime might have had.
In a word, the abysmal economic, social and ethical record of the regime and 16 years of resistance by a democratic alternative against it, have left no legitimacy or popular base for this regime. In the eyes of the Iranian people, the regime and its leaders are a bunch criminals, thieves and corrupt individuals. Khomeini's death and the death of the last remaining grand ayatollahs; the lack of the minimum qualifications in Khamenei as the regime's religious leader; and the absence of an acceptable Marja'-e Taqlid (source of emulation) who would support the regime have either eliminated or seriously undermined the last vestiges of the regime's religious legitimacy among the most retrogressive sectors of the society and the most traditional forces supporting it.
Today, religious fundamentalism does not exist as a social issue or problem in Iran. We are, rather, facing a form of fascism under the guise of religion which holds the reins of power. It is not without reason that today only 30% of the regime's Revolutionary Guards, its main suppressive arm, are volunteers, whereas at the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988 and Khomeini's death in 1989, more than 70% were volunteers ideologically loyal to the regime. Even those remaining are receiving greater material incentives, and continue essentially because it is a well-paying job. In short, they have been transformed from a volunteer army to a suppressive mercenary force which fights against the people for its own survival.
On the international scene, however, the situation is very different. Although word of the regime's difficulties and internal crises and crimes against the people has inevitably reached the outside world, the policies of other countries toward the regime have not allowed the Iranian people's all-out Resistance and more importantly, that Resistance's cultural and ideological challenge to the mullahs to extend beyond Iran's borders.
For this reason, the regime has done its utmost to tarnish the image of the Resistance at the international level and forestall its advances, through dirty deals and agreements. This is one of the primary issues of discussion between the regime and its foreign interlocutors. The regime pursues its policies and prevarication against the Resistance in international arenas and foreign countries through its own operatives or through persons who have acquiesced but pose as oppositionists.
The regime's extreme sensitivity and hysteric reactions to the international successes and political relations of the Resistance with other countries, governments and parliaments confirm that this is its Achilles heel. This also explains the repeated appeals by the regime's leaders and diplomats to other governments to prevent the presence of the members and sympathizers of the Resistance. By the same token, the economic relationships between Western countries and Tehran's rulers, and the resultant petro-dollars are used only for domestic suppression, weapons purchases and the quest to obtain nuclear arms and export terrorism and fundamentalism. A significant portion of the revenue has also been diverted into the mullahs' foreign bank accounts. For their part, the Iranian people have received nothing but suppression and greater destitution.
The extensive economic ties with this regime have not only failed to contain fundamentalism, but have also emboldened the regime to continue these policies. Experience has also shown that the clerics use these connections as a cover to undertake more terrorist and fundamentalist activities abroad.
In a word, the 16-year experience of the Iranian Resistance in dealing with the fundamentalist rulers of Iran and the experiences of international politics regarding Iran under the banner of the mullahs demonstrate that:
In this way, the world community and Western countries will not be compelled to surrender to the blackmail of Khomeini's anti-human regime under the banner of Islam, to accept its double-talk on the cultural and religious distinctions of Iran and Islamic countries, or to tarnish the universal principles of human rights by giving concessions to this anti-human regime. Regrettably, the regime has recently received such concessions in a number of cases.
Furthermore, the people of different countries, especially Muslims, will to a great extent obtain the objective understanding of the Khomeini regime that the people of Iran have arrived at, and few will be beguiled by the regime's Islamic posturing and demagogic slogans.
In other words, exercising decisiveness against the regime and support for the Iranian Resistance constitute two fronts against fundamentalism. On the one hand, by standing firm against the regime and supporting the Resistance, the pace of change by the people inside Iran toward democracy and peace will be expedited. Thus, the material and spiritual source of support for fundamentalism will be eliminated and its heart will stop beating. On the other hand, by exposing the anti-Islamic nature of the mullahs in Western and Islamic countries and introducing the democratic alternative to this regime, the fertile grounds for the growth of fundamentalism will dry up. We have gained this experience with 100,000 martyrs.
Norway has more than once demonstrated that on the international level, it does not take yield to routine political and economic considerations in defending democracy and human rights. The courageous actions by your country to assist liberation movements and its pioneering role in resolving international issues, have given Norway a special stature among the people of different countries. In the same way, your firm stance vis-à-vis the religious, terrorist dictatorship ruling Iran has aroused enormous friendship and respect among the people of Iran.
On behalf of the Iranian people and their just Resistance for peace and freedom, I see it incumbent upon myself to call on the government and the people of Norway to impose comprehensive sanctions on, and sever diplomatic relations with, the mullahs and put the issue of Iran and the Resistance on the agenda of their foreign policy, and to convince especially the European countries to adopt a decisive policy and recognize the right of the Iranian people to resist against this anti-human regime.
And here, I want to address Norwegian women in general and those supremely qualified women in particular who have held positions of enormous political and social responsibility in your country for many years. I call upon you to rush to the aide of your sisters in Iran, who have ably resisted against the misogynous clerical regime and for their part have demonstrated that a woman is equally a human being. Of course, in this path, they have made great sacrifices and endured intolerable prisons and torture.
I also call upon the Norwegian youth, whose decisive role in the political life of Norway I have witnessed during my stay in your country, to come to the aid of the Iranian youth who are suffering from the most extreme pressures.
The Iranian people are determined to bring democracy and peace to their homeland. Doubtless, a democratic Iran is indispensable to the return of tranquillity and lasting peace to the entire Middle East region and the uprooting of terrorism throughout the globe.
I again thank our dear friends, particularly the members of the Committee in Defense of Human Rights in Iran. I hope to soon be your host in the democratic Iran of tomorrow.