Biography of Maryam Rajavi
Date of Birth: December 4, 1953
Place of Birth: Tehran, Iran
Marital Status: Married to Massoud Rajavi, 1985
Current Position: President-elect, National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)
Education: Metallurgical Engineer, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran
Children: a daughter Ashraf, and a son Mostafa
• Official in the student movement affiliated with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), (Mujahedin-e Khalq, MEK) against the Shah’s regime (1973 to 1979)
• Official in the social department of the MEK (1979 to 1981)
• Candidate for Parliament (1980)
• Joint-leader of the MEK (1985 to 1989)
• Secretary General of the MEK (1989 to 1993)
• President-elect of the parliament-in-exile National Council of Resistance of Iran (1993-present)
Maryam Rajavi was born into a middle-class family in Tehran. One of her brothers, Mahmoud, is a veteran member of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), and was a political prisoner during the Shah’s regime.
Her older sister Narges was killed by the Shah’s secret police, SAVAK, in 1975. Her other sister, Massoumeh, an industrial engineering student, was arrested by the clerical regime in 1982. Pregnant at the time, she was ultimately hanged after undergoing brutal torture.
Rajavi joined the MEK as a young woman. Following the 1979 anti-monarchical revolution, she ran for a seat in Parliament from Tehran during the first parliamentary election in 1980. But, due to widespread voter fraud by the new fundamentalist regime, none of the opposition candidates made it into Parliament. Despite the fraud, Rajavi received over 250,000 votes.
President-elect of the NCRI
In 1993, during its plenary session, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a coalition whose members include a number of Iranian opposition organizations and prominent personalities, elected Mrs. Rajavi as the President-elect for the period of transitioning power to the Iranian people.
The NCRI acts as a parliament-in-exile and a legislative assembly
As the President-elect of the NCRI, Maryam Rajavi has mounted an extraordinary political, social, cultural and ideological challenge to the ruling mullahs in Iran. Under her leadership, women have risen to hold key positions in the Iranian Resistance. Over half of NCRI members are women. They occupy various political, diplomatic, social and cultural positions in the Resistance.
Mrs. Rajavi has made numerous speeches regarding the real message of Islam, which revolves around tolerance and democracy, in direct contradiction of the reactionary and fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. She believes that one of the most important differentiators between these two entirely contradictory views of Islam focuses on attitudes toward the status of women. Among her published works are: “Islam, Women, and Equality,” “Women, the Force for Change,” and “Women against Fundamentalism.”
In 1994, during a speech delivered at the Oslo city hall, Mrs. Rajavi warned about the octopus of religious tyranny and Islamic fundamentalism whose heart beats in Tehran. She said: “Fundamentalism has turned into the greatest threat to peace in the region and the world,” adding, “The mullahs ruling Iran are pursuing their expansionist agenda and exporting crises and tensions by exploiting the religious beliefs of over a billion Muslims.”
During a June 21, 1996 speech entitled, “Women, the Voice of the Oppressed,” delivered at a conference in London’s Earls Court, Rajavi said, “The issue of women and the equality movement is linked to the struggle against reactionary ideology and fundamentalism. For women are not only pioneers in the equality movement, but also the main force for progress, peace and social justice. In my view, humankind can only rid itself of the evil phenomenon of reactionary outlook and fundamentalism if women would assume their leading role in this global campaign and employ all forms of democratic struggle to shut the door on any form of appeasement and compromise with the misogynous and inhumane mullahs in Iran.”
The Third Option
In December 2004, during a speech at the European Parliament, Maryam Rajavi proposed the Third Option, a clear prospect to resolve the Iranian crisis, which had caused anxiety on a global scale.
She said: “In response to the Iranian crisis, two options are regularly proposed: Either compromise with the mullahs’ regime, in a bid to contain or gradually change the regime. Western countries have pursued this policy in the past two decades. Or, the second option, overthrowing the mullahs by way of a foreign war, similar to what occurred in Iraq. No one is interested a repeat of the Iraqi experience in Iran. But, I have come here today to say that there is a third option: Change by the Iranian people and the Iranian Resistance. With the removal of foreign obstacles, the Iranian people and Resistance would have the ability and the readiness to bring about such change. This presents the only way to avert a foreign war. Offering concessions to the mullahs is not the alternative to a foreign conflict and will not dissuade them from pursuing their ominous intentions.”
International Solidarity with the Iranian Resistance
Today, in the eyes of the Iranian people, Maryam Rajavi is the pioneer of the struggle for democratic change in Iran. In recent years, she has led a global movement comprised of some of the most celebrated political and social personalities, including former U.S. government officials and secretaries in the political and military arenas, as well as political personalities and parliamentarians from the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia. This international movement has attained significant victories in support of regime change and establishment of freedom and democracy in Iran through its support and recognition of the Iranian Resistance and the organized opposition in Camps Ashraf and Liberty. The movement has gained international credibility and legitimacy.
International Campaign to Delist the MEK
Another front in the struggle led by Maryam Rajavi was a major campaign to remove the MEK from terrorist lists in Europe and the U.S. while exposing secret deals in the context of appeasing the clerical regime. These efforts led to the delisting of the MEK in the United Kingdom in 2008 and the European Union in 2009, as well as the dismissal of terrorism charges in the June 17, 2003 dossier by a senior French Investigative magistrate in May 2011 and the revocation of the MEK’s terrorist designation in the United States in September 2012.
International Campaign in Defense of Resistance Members in Ashraf and Liberty
In 2009, the U.S. government transferred the protection and security of over 3,000 Resistance members in Camp Ashraf to the Iraqi government. On the orders of the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki attacked Camp Ashraf in July 2009, April 2011, and again in September 2013, killing over 100 residents and injuring more than 1,000 in the process. Subsequent to these attacks, the residents of Ashraf were transferred to Camp Liberty under the auspices of the United Nations. They were attacked several more times by missiles and rockets, as a result of which dozens were killed and many more were wounded. The objective of the clerical regime and its puppet government in Iraq through these attacks was to completely eradicate the Iranian Resistance.
Mrs. Rajavi led an international campaign in support of Iranian Resistance members in Ashraf and Liberty, which included hundreds of statements issued by human rights organizations, numerous reports and statements by UN-affiliated organizations, and statements by thousands of parliamentarians around the world, in addition to multiple resolutions passed in parliaments and international institutions. Efforts in the U.S. led to the adoption of a 2016 resolution in Congress calling for the provision of security for the residents of Camp Liberty.