Iran’s Regime Arrests Elite Students Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
Mohammad Sadat Khansari
Iran’s Regime Arrests Elite Students Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
After almost a month of secrecy, the Iranian regime’s Judiciary announced on Tuesday it had arrested two elite students. The Judiciary announced these students, Amir Hossain Moradi and Ali Younesi, were in contact with the Iranian Resistance.
The Judiciary spokesperson, Gholam-Hossain Esmaili, claimed that these students had engaged in “diversionary actions” and were “attempting to carry out sabotage operations.” “Explosive devices used in sabotage operations were discovered when their homes were searched,” he said.
Amir Hossein Moradi disappeared on April 10, and Ali Younesi was brought home in the evening of the same day, with injuries and torture marks. Ali won the gold medal of the 12th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics, held in China in 2018. Earlier, he had won the silver and gold medals of the National Astronomy Olympiad in 2016 and 2017. Amir Hossein also won the Olympiad silver medal in 2017.
The opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK) also announced the names of 18 other people who have been recently and secretly arrested by the regime. The regime was forced to announce the arrest of all these prisoners, particularly Ali and Amir Hossain, following international pressure and student protests at Sharif University, where Ali and Amir Hossain were studying.
In this regard, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), emphasized that the detainees are subject to torture and face execution, as well as in danger of being exposed to the Coronavirus. She again urged the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Human Rights Council, as well as the international human rights organizations to take urgent action to secure the release of the detainees and to send international missions to visit the regime’s prisons and meet with these prisoners.
I URGE THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL, THE UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR #HUMANRIGHTS, THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL AND OTHER INT’L ORGANIZATIONS TO TAKE URGENT ACTION TO SECURE THEIR RELEASE AND SEND AN INTERNATIONAL DELEGATION TO VISIT #IRAN PRISONS AND THE PRISONERS. #COVIDー19
— MARYAM RAJAVI (@MARYAM_RAJAVI) MAY 6, 2020
These arrests and subsequent positions by the regime have two aspects. First, once again it shows the regime’s brutality, arresting young elite citizens, particularly amid the coronavirus outbreak. Secondly, the subsequent position by the regime’s Judiciary, accusing these students of being part of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) network, both debunk the regime’s demonizing campaign, portraying the MEK as an unattractive group for the Iranian youth. It also portrays the regime’s fear of the MEK’s increasing popularity among the youth.
For decades the Iranian regime, simultaneous with its oppressive measures, has been conducting a demonizing and disinformation campaign against the MEK. Hundreds of propaganda and fake movies, and books have been made in this regard, and the regime spends billions of dollars every year to follow this campaign. Its agents, disguised as the MEK members’ families or so-called “former members,” try to create a false image of the MEK for the Iranian youth.
However, the facts on the ground force the regime to reveal part of the truth. The truth is that the Iranian youth are seeking freedom and fundamental change in Iran and Iranian resistance and the MEK has become their road model. This fact has always been acknowledged by the regime’s most senior officials during the uprisings. In January 2018 and November 2019 uprisings many senior officials of the regime were forced to admit that the uprisings were organized by the MEK and their young supporters.
“MEK had organized (the uprising) since a few months ago, they selected some people inside the country; they were also the ones who called on the people to make the people follow them.” the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said in a speech on January 2018.
A cursory look at the statements and positions declared by the regime’s leaders and state-run media regarding the November 2019 uprising, clearly shows that the MEK was at the core of the uprising, and remarks by the senior officials of the regime reflected their fear from the MEK and the MEK’s impact on the Iranian society and the youth.
According to the IRGC-affiliated Fars news, Hossein Ashtari, the Commander of State Security Forces (SSF), said: “Our investigations show that behind the scenes, anti-revolutionary organizations and the MEK led these movements.” (Fars News Agency, November 17)
The speaker of the regime’s Majlis (parliament), Ali Larijani, said: “…we must coordinate more in order to deprive America, the MEK, and anti-revolutionary stooges the opportunity to create chaos in the country.” (Farhang Radio, November 18)
A member of the regime’s Assembly of Experts and former Intelligence Minister, Mohammad Mohammadi Reyshahri, said: “The torching of the people’s belongings and the destruction that happened were done by the MEK and anti-revolutionaries… The MEK was planning for riots for several months. They were quickly identified, and their ranks were separated from those of the people.” (Defa Press, November 18)
The spokesperson for the Majlis Presiding Board, Assadollah Abbasi, said: “Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, said at a closed-door meeting of the Majlis that a number of individuals who provoked people in the streets had been identified. It has become clear that they are in contact with the MEK.” (ILNA, November 17)
A Majlis deputy from Malayer said: “The Islamic Republic has been able to establish sustained security in Iraq and Syria. It will never succumb to the MEK‘s actions…Therefore, they will not align themselves with the MEK and thugs.” (Fars News Agency, November 17)
The head of the IRGC’s paramilitary Bassij force, Gholamreza Soleimani, said: “The MEK has cells (units) in our country. And in other countries, too, agents and the MEK who are tied to America damage the public’s interests.” (Tabnak website, November 18)
The state-run daily Jomhouri Eslami reported on November 18 that “the commander of the IRGC Fajr in Fars province says that the leaders of the riots had ties to the MEK.”
The IRGC’s spokesperson, Ramezan Sharif, was quoted by the Mehr News Agency as saying: “Rioters belonged to the MEK. The MEK has a darker track record than the monarchists. They have a violent streak. In a recent poll, the MEK has been identified as the most hated group.” Mehr news agency adds: “He pointed to the fact that the rioters were trained, equipped and organized by the MEK in order to plot against the country and said: ‘These people carry out tangible activities both in the realm of the soft war and cultural warfare, as well as in the area of inciting insecurity.”‘ (November 20)
Khamenei’s representative in Gilan province, Rasoul Falahati, said: “We know that you (protestors) are the children of the executed MEK members. You are the children of the MEK in exile… We know who you are… You should no longer walk the same path as your ill-fated predecessors. You should come back to the arms of the people. Repent! The Judiciary must firmly hand down the ultimate punishment for the main elements of the recent riots. They are responsible for disturbing the peace.” (Baran TV, November 20)
The state-run Afkar News said on November 20: “The detainees are in some shape or form tied to the MEK and foreign elements. They received the necessary training over the last two years in order to carry out these actions.”
Ali Shamkhani, Secretary for the Supreme National Security Council: “I believe 34 MEK members have been arrested so far. A vast network of individuals, operating not under the MEK’s name, but pursuing their line and modus operandi were also identified.” (Defa’ Press, November 24, 2019)