++ On 12th March, several ex-MEK member organisations from Paris gathered together and sent a delegation to the Albanian embassy in Paris. They had a brief meeting with the deputy ambassador and arranged a formal meeting with the ambassador at a later date. In this conversation they handed over some documents and a statement to be passed to PM Edi Rama’s office. On 16th March, these groups met again to hold pickets in various places around Paris in which they distributed leaflets and talked with people. They raised these issues: The main issue is the Hadi Sani Khani case, because he had previously been kidnapped from Turkey and taken to Iraq by MEK on the false promise of getting a job. After many years, when MEK arrived in Albania Hadi managed to escape and became a critic of the cult. Now he has been kidnapped again and taken to Paris. Using his name, MEK have published all kinds of statements and confessions on his behalf, but with no photo or signature, etc. Yet, when French police questioned the MEK in Albania, MEK leaders said they don’t know where he is. The former members’ demand is for the Albanians who host the MEK to investigate his suspicious and concerning disappearance. The French don’t host the MEK anymore, so it is Albania that is responsible for their actions. The second issue is the demand from Albania to protect ex members and their families. After the court case in Iran, Massoud Rajavi has come out openly threatening to kill former members in Albania. It’s up to the authorities there to protect them. Thirdly, the picketers emphasised that now Trump has gone there is no excuse by saying Albania is under pressure from the US to support terrorism. The viable way forward is to allow the families to come and help rescue their loved ones. Hadi’s father could have been given a visa to come and see his son, and if he had the help and support of his family he would not have been kidnapped. Albania must be the solution, not the problem.
++ After Rajavi’s statement following the court case in Iran, there were many reactions from people who follow his life and death. One asks, ‘if he’s alive, where is he? What is the game’. Others ask, ‘why has his voice not changed after thirty years’. There is general agreement that Rajavi has gone bonkers, that he has vanished, but is asking Iran’s heads of state to come to court. Commentators describe Rajavi’s response as panicked reaction – whether it comes from him or the MEK. They point out that the court case in Tehran is an international case and will have international consequences and Rajavi knows that. The best comment is from one of the older family members who said, ‘it reminded me of my granddaughter when she was five, hiding in a cupboard to play. But because she saw a spider she screamed and jumped out of the cupboard. This is like Rajavi jumping out of his hiding hole when he saw the court case against him!’
++ Massoud Khodabandeh commented on Rajavi’s reaction to the court case in Iran in which 42 former members accuse Massoud and Maryam Rajavi and 40 other named senior members of MEK of human rights abuses. Khodabandeh writes that it is laughable that Rajavi challenges Iran’s leaders to meet him in court since he has avoided any legal action over his three decades as MEK leader. Khodabandeh lists the events which threatened Rajavi and the diversions and distractions he used to evade prosecution. He also points out that Rajavi has a history of eliminating troublesome members. This is what makes his threat to kill the former members in Albania all the more worrying. Rajavi will not hesitate to use violence and assassinations to avoid facing the law. Khodabandeh concludes that the most effective solution is to reinstate the US program to de-radicalise the MEK in Albania.
++ Mazda Parsi writes about how the MEK do not celebrate Nowruz, the biggest celebration of the year for Iranians. Celebration is a taboo inside MEK. The only reference to Nowruz is for Maryam Rajavi to pose in front of a Haftsin table in her luxurious headquarters. In the past in Iraq, spontaneous enjoyment of Nowruz was crushed; the members told ‘we are here to fight, not to dance!’ Parsi points out that as a cult, the MEK has changed the meaning of any cultural heritage and traditions. Maryam Rajavi now uses Nowruz to advertise her power over the rank and file. She promises they will overthrow the regime. The same old forty-year-old promise.
++ Anne Khodabandeh writes about a small intervention by Albania’s diplomat in Geneva in the UN Human Rights Council. Iran criticised the UN Special Rapporteur’s comments on human rights in Iran and asked why the MEK were in Albania at all. Dr Illir Nezaj read out a prepared statement claiming that Albania is fighting terrorism and the MEK are not a terrorist group. According to Khodabandeh this raised questions among Albanians who for example, asked why the MEK have a paramilitary camp in Albania if they are not a terrorist outfit. Khodabandeh asked why Albania is not investigating the suspicious disappearance of Hadi Sani Khani, and also “Understand that threatening violent regime change against another country is illegal under Albanian law. What do you think the MEK have been doing since they arrived in your country?” with a link to a visit by the late Senator John McCain to meet with MEK in Albania to promote regime change. Khodabandeh concludes that this behaviour is problematic for the EU and will prevent Albania’s accession.
March 19 2021