Today at the Weekly IRF Roundtable meeting, our IOPHR representative and Chair of the Iran Action Group presented the following report:
As the tragic comedy of the presidential election in Iran looms, Ayatollah Khamenei and his occupying regime, faced with a nation determined to send a loud and clear message to the world by refusing to participate in the election and thereby ejecting his rule, is becoming more desperate and dangerous by the day. His regime’s vicious tactics to force the nation to participate in the sham election range from coercion, violent oppression, and threats, to withholding the COVID-19 vaccine from a desperate people.
It has been a long time since Khamenei last realized how fragile his rule has become and the critical role Gonabadi Sufis have played in the resistance to his regime. Under the guidance of the late Dr. Noor Ali Tabandeh as their spiritual leader, the Gonabadi Sufis awakened the long-suppressed power of the people to stand up, through a unified and peaceful protest, against one of the most oppressive regimes in the world. It was exactly on February 21, 2009 that tens of thousands of Gonabadi Sufis from all across Iran gathered in front of the parliament to peacefully protest the vicious oppression of the Sufis, which included violent attacks, arrests, tortures, and murders, and the destruction of their places of worship and homes. Up until then, hopelessness and a grave-like silence had ruled the lives of a nation under siege, much like the Soviet Union of the Stalin era. But the Sufis’ protest broke the façade of Khamenei’s absolute power and proved to people of Iran, and the whole world for that matter, that it is possible to stand up even to the most vicious oppressor through unity and peaceful protest, and paved the way for others to follow suit.
This, of course, shocked the regime to its core. A few months later, after the election results of 2009, Iranians of all walks of life, inspired by the Gonabadi Sufis’ unimaginable accomplishment, poured into the streets, peacefully protesting the sham elections that had pulled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad out of a magic hat as the elected president of Iran. This monumental event came to be known as the Green Movement. These back-to-back humiliating defeats by Khamenei and his regime proved to the oppressed people of the region that they could follow in the footsteps of the Gonabadi Sufis and the Iranian people to get rid of their much less brutal oppressors, and the Arab Spring came to be. In Iran, in honor of the Sufis’ monumental achievement, the 21st of February was named Dervish Day, which is celebrated each year by the millions, Sufi and non-Sufi alike.
Realizing the depth and extent of the damage done, and the potential of Dr. Tabandeh’s teachings to inspire such movements in other segments of society all across Iran, Khamenei became intent on eliminating Dr. Tabandeh at all costs and gaining control over the Gonabadi Sufi Order. Khamenei aimed to eliminate the existential threat to his regime posed by Dr. Tabandeh’s teachings and his followers, and covertly take over the Sufi Order in order to harness the massive potential of millions of Sufis for his regime’s survival. One of his specific goals was to summon millions of Sufis, through his appointed leader of the Sufi Order, to participate in the elections in his favor. Khamenei finally managed to accomplish his objectives by placing Dr. Tabandeh under house arrest and murdering him through gradual poisoning at the hands of his covert agents within the Sufi Order, claiming that Dr. Tabandeh had passed away due to natural ailments stemming from old age, and placing his favored candidate at the helm of the Gonabadi Sufi Order.
After Dr.Tabandeh’s murder on December 24, 2019, members of the International Organisation to Preserve Human Rights (IOPHR), along with many human rights activists, Gonabadi Sufis in Iran and abroad, started a campaign to expose the truth about his death, and prove that he was in fact murdered by the regime’s agents.strategically placed within the Sufi Order, and replaced by someone approved by Khamenei himself. Fortunately, the campaign has been far more successful and effective than was anticipated, causing a vast rift between the genuine Sufis and those who are in fact agents of the regime pretending to be Sufis. This, of course, has unraveled the regime’s long-term and expensive plans for taking over the Gonabadi Sufi order, and masses of Sufis are parting ways with the regime-controlled order daily, rendering Khamenei’s substantial investments worthless. At this critical juncture when his regime is facing its demise, Khamenei’s fantasy of having millions of Gonabadi Sufis as foot soldiers of his regime is turning into a nightmare.
Fearful of a possible revolt by the Sufis for what he did to Dr. Tabandeh and the Sufi Order, and vengeful against the International Organisation to Preserve Human Rights for their efforts in exposing his evil plans, Khamenei and his regime once again are intent on eliminating the root cause of his disastrous defeat. This time, Khamenei and his agents are focused on Dr. Seyed Azmayesh, the founder of IOPHR, and other members. Over the past several months, members of the Basij forces have sent graphic death threats to Dr. Azmayesh through messages on social media. A few days ago, another member of IOPHR received a disturbing message full of obscene profanity from someone named Farshid Mahjoubi, threatening the IOPHR member and his family as well as other members of the IOPHR, and Dr. Azmayesh.
What is particularly concerning about this latest threat is that the caller: (1) is the son of a ‘so-called’ Sufi teacher within the Gonabadi Sufi Order who has close ties to the regime-appointed leader of the order, granting him impunity and vast resources to carry out his mission, (2) announces that he has a Fatwa, meaning that at least one of the regime’s Ayatollahs has issued decrees (Fatwa) for the assassination of Dr. Azmayesh and other members of IOPHR and (3) condemns IOPHR for its activities and brands its members as enemies of the state and subsequently, enemies of the regime-controlled Sufi Order, confessing to the fact that what is called the Gonabadi Sufi Order today is, in fact, an extension of the Basij forces carrying out the regime’s objectives.
Being branded as an enemy of the state is a crime punishable by death under Khamenei’s judicial system, and the fact that the caller has a Fatwa highlights the seriousness of the threats made. As history has proven time and time again, Khamenei’s regime has always had an open hand in Europe to carry out its assassinations without any serious ramifications. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the international community and the E.U. governments to take a unified and firm stance against these threats, and ensure the safety of Dr. Azmayesh, other members of the IOPHR who are in fact citizens of the E.U., and all dissidents under threat of death by this evil regime.