Let’s review Maryam Rajavi’s promises for Iranian women on the occasion of the International Women’s Day
Women’s rights are the fundamental human rights that were cherished by the United Nations for every human being on the planet about 70 years ago. These rights include the right to live free from violence, slavery, and discrimination; to be educated; to own property; to vote; and to earn a fair and equal wage. These basic rights have been constantly violated by the group leaders. Violence against women is one of the most systematic, widespread human rights violation in this group. This violation is embedded in unequal power dynamics between women and men that is reinforced by harmful social norms or inequality in the group.
Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (the MKO/ MEK/ PMOI/ the Cult of Rajavi) has always pretended to be an enthusiastic advocate of Women’s rights. She adds certain rights to the above-mentioned list which sound quite rational and ethical. Just to mention an example, in her message on March 8, 2019 on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, she persuades the Iranian women “to rebel against the culture of surrender” and “to cultivate solidarity, compassion, friendship and trust among our people”.
Then she tries to inform her imaginary audience about their rights. “Women are free to choose their place of residence, their occupation, and education,” she writes. “They have a right to freely choose their spouse, to freely travel, to exit the country, to divorce, and to have custody over their children.”
A very “controversial” right that she tries to explicate is what she calls “freedom of choice for selecting their attire”. She asserts, “The compulsory veiling law must be abolished”. This right is controversial not only because veiling is compulsory in Iran but also because it is compulsory in the MEK too. While women in Iran should cover their hair and body according to the law, they are at least free to choose for the color, the pattern and the design of their clothing. But, female members of the MEK are not even allowed to choose for the color of their head scarves.
This is obviously shown in the pictures broadcasted by the group, itself. All female rank and file are wearing uniforms in both ceremonies and routine life of the group. The group has no exception for the rule of forced hijab. For example, Ann Singleton was a British Christian woman when she was recruited by the MEK. She was forced to wear hijab as an MEK member. She was not able to unveil only after her defection from the group.
In the same way, Mrs. Rajavi should be questioned on other rights she suggests for Iranian women. First of all, the freedom to choose their place of residence. Members of the MEK have always been kept in concentration camps whether in Iraq or Albania. Members are not allowed to commute out of the camps. Maryam Rajavi should explain how it is possible to choose a paramilitary camp as a residence for over 40 years without any access to the outside world including your family and friends.
She speaks of freedom of choosing occupation and education. There is no such thing in the MEK camp. You cannot find an actress, an artist, a fashion designer, a hair stylist etc. among almost a thousand women residing in Camp Ashraf. All duties are scheduled under the rule of the commanders and all occupations are defined according to the agenda of the organization.
The “freedom to choose spouse” is unheard of in Maryam Rajavi’s group. According to the group’s regulations, celibacy is mandatory. Nobody has married in the MEK since the so-called ideological revolution that was launched by the group’s disappeared leader Massoud Rajavi. The revolution required married members to divorce their spouses and single members to vow for long-life celibacy. However, Massoud Rajavi was the only person who later married a group of female members simultaneously.
That means that polygamy was pretty normal for the leader of the MEK while his third wife, Maryam Rajavi utters, “Polygamy must be banned and marriage below the legal age will not be permitted”!
She also speaks of the rights “to freely travel, to exit the country, to divorce, and to have custody over their children”. There are at least 400 children of the MEK members who have been separated from their parents, orphaned in different countries and not allowed to contact their mothers because they are not permitted to enter the camp and mothers are not permitted to travel out of the camp either.
Furthermore, about a hundred of female members of the MEK have undergone forced hysterectomy surgeries in order to elevate in the cult-like hierarchy of the group. This stage is called “the Ideal Peak” by the group leaders.
It is clear that the “culture of surrender” is actually the dominant culture in the world Maryam Rajavi and her husband have created in Camp Ashraf. In this bizarre world, it is not possible “to cultivate solidarity, compassion, friendship and trust”. Members are expected to monitor their comrades all the time; they are supposed to write reports against their comrades; they are even expected to insult and beat their peers during the self-criticism meetings which are held on a daily basis in the group.
As the most basic rights of human beings and specifically women are violated in the MEK regulations, one should forget about the right to vote or the right to own property and to earn money. As an MEK member, nobody is compensated for the long hours of forced labor and sleep deprivation.
Therefore Mrs. Rajavi must explain about at least ten issues in which the rights of her female followers are violated:
1. Female members of the MEK do not have freedom of choice for selecting their attire.
2. Female members of the MEK do not have the right to freely choose their spouse
3. Female members of the MEK do not have the right to freely travel and to exit the group’s camp.
4. Female members of the MEK do not have the right to have custody over their children and even to contact their children.
5. Certain female members of the MEK have been deprived from motherhood for their entire life by a surgery.
6. Female members of the MEK are not free to choose their place of residence, their occupation, and education. No MEK member receives academic education in the MEK camps.
7. Certain members of the MEK’s Elite Council were made Massoud Rajavi’s wives during a ceremony called “Salvation Dance”, an evidence for polygamy in the MEK.
8. Female members of the MEK are under mental and physical pressure in the cult-like regulations of the group.
9. The atmosphere of fear, threat and distrust leaves no room for solidarity, compassion and friendship among female members of the MEK.
10. Female members of the MEK are not paid for the hard work they do in the camp and so they do not own any personal property.
Regarding the magnitude shortcomings in the ruling of Maryam Rajavi over her group, does she still envision “a bright and shining future” for “Iran’s women and people”?