by Armin Baldwin
In Tirana and five other countries, The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, PMOI, and the Mujahedin-e Khalq, MEK, held its annual Congress simultaneously. It was the PMOI’s 52nd anniversary.
The Congress elected Ms. Zahra Merrikhi as its new Secretary General. Chairing the Congress, was Ms. Zohreh Akhyani, the Secretary General since 2011.
The Secretary General is elected to a renewable term of two years, according to the PMOI’s bylaws, and the election is held in three phases. Votes are initially cast in in secret ballots, but in the third phase, at the PMOI Congress, voting is done by a show of hands. In this final phase, Ms. Merrikhi was unanimously elected Secretary General.
Ms. Merrikhi previously held the position of coordinator for the offices of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, who is the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and Vice-President of the PMOI’s Central Council.
Ms. Merrikhi was born in 1959 in the city of Qa’emshahr in the northern Province of Mazandaran. She was introduced to the PMOI during the 1979 anti-Monarchic Revolution, and joined the PMOI after the Shah’s overthrow. Soon she was appointed head of the women’s section in Qa’emshahr. Subsequently, she became a member of the editorial board of the PMOI publication in Mazandaran, called Talavang.
She was transferred to Tehran in 1981, to act as liaison between the PMOI and its branches in the forests of northern Iran. She moved to PMOI bases near the border of Iraq in 1984, and the next year, became a member of the Central Council.
After Ms. Merrikhi spent time overseeing PMOI branches in Scandinavia and Germany, she became a member of the Executive Committee in 1991. She was later appointed head of Radio Mojahed, Simay-e Moghavemat, which is the Iranian Resistance’s television network, as well as the publication, Mojahed.
In 1992 she became a member of the NCRI and was appointed Chairwoman of the Public Affairs Committee.
Since 2003 she’s been the coordinator of the offices of Mrs. Rajavii, and served as the Vice-president of the PMOI’s Central Council since 2004.
Mrs. Merrikhi was sworn in following her election as Secretary General. She placed her hand on the Holy Quran and paid her respects to the Iranian flag and the PMOI emblem. She pledged to remain faithful to the enormous responsibilities with which she has been entrusted. She vowed to devote all her abilities and those of the PMOI, as a national treasure of the Iranian people, to establish freedom and democracy in Iran. She also expressed her appreciation for her predecessor, Ms. Akhyani, and for Ms. Mojgan Parsai, the President of the PMOI’s Central Council.
Ms. Merrikhi also introduced the new deputies to the Secretary General, Narges Azodanlou, Rabi’eh Mofidi, and Nasrin Massih.
Praising the efforts of PMOI officials over the past 14 years, Mrs. Merrikhi said, “Today, the PMOI, with the help of the Iranian people, is prepared as never before to overthrow the clerical regime.” She added that the PMOI has now 18 co-Secretaries General, including seven former Secretaries General.
Mrs. Rajavi described Ms. Merrikhi’s election as the new PMOI Secretary General as brilliant, saying it embodies the height of democracy, cohesion, and growth in the PMOI. She called it, “breaking of the spell of repression which will lead to the overthrow of the religious fascism ruling Iran.”