Defenders of Freedom

rajavi rally 150The PMOI organized a rally at Amjadiyeh Stadium in Tehran on June 12, 1980 to protest the mullahs’ escalating despotism.  Days earlier Khomeini had shut down all universities under the pretext of a cultural revolution.  But in reality it was strategy to suppress the students.

More than 200,000 people attended the demonstration.  Mr. Rajavi warned the crowd of Khomeini’s creeping dictatorship and urged them to “defend freedoms, freedom of speech, associations, and gatherings.”  He declared the PMOI would not be intimidated.  “We’re not afraid of bullets,” he said, “If freedom means death, then we will die.”1

Hezbollah thugs tried without success to force their way into the stadium.  They clashed with PMOI supporters outside the facility, throwing stones and bricks, while policemen and Islamic Revolutionary Guards stood idly nearby.  When the government forces later intervened, they fired tear gas into PMOI crowds and automatic weapons into the air. 

As reported by Le Monde, Mr. Rajavi spoke while “fighting continued outside and his words were lost at times in a cacophony of explosions, machine-gun bursts, and ambulance horns.”2

"'Do you hear?' Mr. Rajavi asked as he addressed himself to the Hezbollahi.  'We are neither Communists nor pro-Soviets as you claim.  We are fighting for the total freedom and independence of Iran….Freedom is not granted,' he cried as the crowd rose shouting to its feet.  'It is won.  A gift of the Lord, it is as indispensable as oxygen.'”3

Members of the audience were attacked as they left the stadium, leaving hundreds injured and five killed.  Le Monde said “Shots were fired from nearby roofs and bodies lay on the sidewalks. Young men with bloodied faces were running in all directions.”4

With each passing day, the PMOI gained strength while Khomeini’s support drained away.  The Ayatollah openly considered the possibility of defeat, stating on June 17, “Never have I so much feared seeing the Islamic Revolution end in failure.”5

On July 25, Khomeini lashed out at the Mojahedin in a radio broadcast, declaring the resistance organization to be the “main enemy.”  Khomeini said “Our enemy is neither the United States, nor the Soviet Union, nor Kurdistan, but sitting right here in Tehran under our nose.”  The Ayatollah continued:

“The Monafeqin [meaning hypocrites, his pejorative term for the Mojahedin] are worse than infidels.  They say they are Muslims, but they act against Islam….Today, we clergymen are being called reactionaries…and those people [PMOI] are being called the intellectuals.”6

Khomeini’s speech was interpreted by the Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guards as a green light to destroy the pro-democracy organization.  To avoid the further "shedding of innocent blood," the PMOI closed down 30 additional offices across Iran.7  Weeks later, the mullahs announced a ban on all political demonstrations.

Battle Lines Drawn

The Islamic revolution appeared to be dying a slow death.  Then in late September, Iraqi military forces invaded Iran, reversing the trend.  Iranians everywhere rallied to a call to arms.  PMOI members rushed to the battlefront to defend the country against the Iraqi invaders. (see for more details) 

Khomeini used the conflict to quash domestic opposition, arguing all challenges to the ruling mullahs should be shunned due to the war.  Iraqi troops initially penetrated deep into Iranian territory.  But starting in January 1981, military forces in Iran mounted a series of successful counterattacks, turning the course of the war.

On the home front, the PMOI continued its campaign for democracy and freedom.  On April 24, 1981, the Mojahedin organized a demonstration to protest the killing of its members and sympathizers.  More than 150,000 people took part in the rally.

The turning point came on June 20, 1981.  Huge rallies were organized by the PMOI in cities across the country, including Tabriz, Rasht, Amol, Qiyamshahr, Gorgan, Babolsar, Zanjan, Karaj, Arak, Isfahan, Rirjand, Ahwaz, and Kerman.8  A half million Iranians attended the demonstration in Tehran to protest the mullahs’ tyrannical policies.

Khomeini responded by ordering Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah to crack down on the Mojahedin.  Thugs blocked off streets and then shot into the crowds departing the rally, killing hundreds and injuring many more.

“Prominent clerics declared that demonstrators, irrespective of their age, would be treated as ‘enemies of God’ and as such would be executed on the spot.  Hezbollahis were armed and trucked in to block off the major streets.  Pasdars [members of the Revolutionary Guards] were ordered to shoot.  Fifty were killed, 200 injured, and 1,000 arrested in the vicinity of Tehran University alone….The reign of terror had begun.”9

The following day, Khomeini’s regime executed hundreds of people who had been arrested, including 12 young girls.  Their identities were unknown and authorities published their pictures in the daily newspaper, Ettela’at, urging their parents to claim the bodies.10

Prior to June 22, 71 PMOI members were murdered by the mullahs and another 2,500 were arrested and imprisoned.  In the months and years that followed, more than 120,000 PMOI members and supporters were killed by Khomeini and the ruling mullahs.  Hundreds of thousands more were imprisoned and tortured.

As a result of the bloodshed and brutality, the mullahs’ popular legitimacy vanished.  It is now a fascist regime with ambitions to expand its borders throughout the world. 


1) "300 Hurt in Iran After Leftist Rally Leads to Rioting," The Globe and Mail, June 13, 1980.

2) "Iranian Left and Right Slugging It Out in Chaotic Fighting," Le Monde article by Eric Rouleau translated by the New York Times, June 14, 1980.

3) Ibid.

4) "Enemies of the Ayatollahs," by Mohammad Mohaddessin, Zed Books, London, 2004.

5) "Khomeini Warns Iran of Lefist Threat," New York Times, June 17, 1980.

6) "Enemies of the Ayatollahs," by Mohammad Mohaddessin, Zed Books, London, 2004.

7) "Khomeini Demands Government Purge," New York Times, June 28, 1980.

8) "Reported Hiding Out in Tehran," Associated Press, June 20, 1981.

9) "The Iranian Mojahedin," Ervand Abrahamian, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 1989.

10) "Enemies of the Ayatollahs," by Mohammad Mohaddessin, Zed Books, London, 2004.