Despite international attention, on Sunday an Iranian man was executed for his political opinions and ties with the People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran (PMOI). PMOI is also known as Mujahidin-e-Khalq (MEK) and it is an exiled Iranian political opposition group, as well as being a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The organization is dedicated to the ideology of democracy and left-wing nationalism. The political opinion of Gholamreza Khosravi Savajani has led to his hanging. His execution has left many baffled that this wass still possible in the 21st Century.
According to a semi-official news source in Iran, Fars states that the government of Iran charged Savajani with treason, claiming that he had provided financial assistance to the underground opposition group. PMOI strongly supports the idea of the removal of the current Islamic Republic’s clerical leadership. When Savajani was arrested, Iranian police had found videos and documents which were presumably passed on to the PMOI. The documents describe important government centers, including some military installations.
The government in the capital of Iran, Tehran, categorizes the PMOI as a terrorist group. This is in part due to the organization’s help in the overthrow of the Shah during the 1979 Islamic Revolution, however when it was apparent that the two groups would be unable to agree on a central ideological belief, the group broke off ties with the Shi’ite Muslim clerics. According to reports from Amnesty International, Savajani was sentenced in 2010 over alleged PMOI links. Days before his execution, the rights group was pleading with Iran not to execute Savajani. It is widely believed that Savajani had received an unfair trial in which he was convicted of “enmity against God”.
According to the PMOI officials, Savajani’s family had been summoned to jail where the man was being held. They were informed that he would be executed on Sunday morning by hanging. The news meant that Iran was willing to execute a man for his political opinion. Amnesty International official, Hassiba Hadj Saharoui stated that not only did Savajani’s trial disregard the international laws, it has also broken the Iranian law.
Meanwhile, Tehran claims that its judicial system is fair and has even placed an accusation against Western powers, claiming that the human rights abuse accusation was simply a ploy used to undermine the Iranian laws.
Although PMOI intentions may be aligned with many American interests, the group was listed under the U.S.-designated terrorist list until 2012. This is due to the PMOI’s support of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in the 1980-88 war with Iran. Their campaign against the U.S-supported Shah during the 1970s had included some attacks on U.S. targets. It is also important to note that in April of 1992, the PMOI carried out attacks on 13 Iranian embassies around the world.
This however, does not mean that human rights of Savajani were not violated. According to human rights activist groups, Iran executes on average more people than any other country with similar population sizes. Since the election of President Hassan Rouhani last year, the rate of executions had increased dramatically.
The news of the execution comes after the case of Meriam Ibrahim caused worldwide outrage. Ibrahim was sentenced to death in Sudan due to her belief in Christianity. While Savajani’s case was not as well known, the similarities are striking. As Iran executed this man for his political views, Sudan has sentenced a woman to death due to her religious beliefs as well.
By Ivelina Kunina