Exiles Protest Iran Arms Sales in Washington March
Thousands of exiled Iranians opposed to the regime of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini marched here and in cities around the world Friday, protesting arms sales to Iran and supporting resistance group leader Massoud Rajavi.
“We condemn any sale of weapons to Khomeini’s terrorist regime since Khomeini uses these weapons to perpetuate the war with Iraq and, at the same time, continues its repression at home,” said Ali Safavi, U.S. spokesman for the Moujahedeen, a group seeking to overthrow Khomeini.
Protesters in Washington gathered across from the White House, chanting: “No arms to Khomeini” and “Death to Khomeini.” They then marched downtown, displaying placards with slogans like “Arms help war, not hostages.”
Supported by Dissidents
The Moujahedeen, supported by dissidents in Iran and exiles abroad, was originally founded to overthrow Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who was deposed in the 1979 revolution. Now, however, the group is fighting for democratic rights that it says have been suppressed by the Khomeini government. Rajavi, after his expulsion from France, is now living in Iraq, which has been at war with Iran for almost seven years.
Safavi estimated that 2,500 protesters from 47 states joined in the demonstration, which was held on the fifth anniversary of the deaths of two prominent Moujahedeen leaders allegedly killed by Khomeini’s Revolutionary Guards. U.S. Park Police estimated the crowd at 1,500.
Mehrtash Amani, one of the protest organizers in Washington, said more than 13,000 demonstrators marched in Bonn, Stockholm, Amsterdam, London and New Delhi.
Mehdi Reazee, a 36-year-old salesman from Los Angeles, took a day off work and flew to Washington to join the protest. “Selling arms by America has a direct effect in Iran,” he said. “America is sending arms to the worst dictator in the world. Why (President Reagan) is trying to buy the enemy, I don’t know. What he is doing is supporting an Iranian Hitler.”
Angered by Arms Sales
A 32-year-old university professor from Los Angeles who would identify himself only as Cameron said he was angered and disappointed when he learned of American arms sales to Iran last November. “The only reason Khomeini can hold on is the arms he is getting,” he said.
Safavi called for an arms and oil embargo against Khomeini. “We think that is the only way you can stop Khomeini’s war and stop the export of terrorism,” he said, adding that “any appeasement will only encourage Khomeini to take more hostages.”