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Documentation Frees MEK Members

MKO defectors in Albania

When the MEK cult was transferred to Albania in 2016, the members were brought by the UNHCR without documentation. They were given $100 US and a piece of paper stating they were being moved ‘on humanitarian grounds’. On arrival in Tirana, the MEK leaders swapped the 100 US dollars for 100 Albanian Lek (worth approximately one dollar). The arrivals were not given ID papers but were left as undocumented foreigners. A new law, however, named ‘For Foreigners’ will soon rectify this situation.

The new legislation was approved by Albania’s Council of Ministers in December last year. It has now been reviewed by Albania’s Commission on European Integration, which announced that it meets EU requirements. According to Albanian officials, the legislation, which has been in the pipeline for a while, seeks to address shortcomings in the bureaucratic system so as to streamline documentation for various foreign individuals. Examples given are

“residence permits of persons without citizenship; residence permits for pensioners; residence permits for travelling employees, i.e. those foreign nationals working in different countries, not in an office or in an institution headquarters and whose work mostly involves travelling; and permits for those who use real estate owned by them in the Republic of Albania”.

Mr. Gjergji Thanasi, Albanian author and human rights activist

The first Iranians to benefit from the new law are those who have rejected membership of the MEK but who, without proper documentation, have struggled to establish themselves in society. Journalist Gjergji Thanasi, who has followed the plight of these former MEK members for the past four years, explained the changes:

“previously there was a problem with getting various permits from different departments – residence, work, travel, etc. Now, foreigners will be issued with a single permit, a White Card, which gives them all the rights of Albanian citizenship, except the right to vote. After a while, they will be issued a Green Card which will entitle them to full citizenship rights.”

Hasan Heyrani

Hasan Heyrani, MKO former member in Tirana

For the former MEK members, this has been a welcome development. Hassan Heyrani said:

I have been managing a coffee shop to make a living. But I can now incorporate my own business and buy property. This will make a huge difference in all our lives. The White Card will even allow us to arrange family reunions”.

The former members have applied for the single permit and have received registration numbers pending the issue of the White Cards in a month or two.

The new law also applies to the MEK members in Camp Ashraf 3 in Durres county. MEK leader Maryam Rajavi has already been reported to be working to hide this law from the members, and to take steps to mitigate its effects. Members are being asked to sign papers waiving any rights to independent life. They must swear an oath to identify as a member of the MEK cult rather than an individual with individual rights. The problem for Rajavi is that although she has already denied the members every one of the rights and freedoms contained in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the principles set out by Article 30 in this document is that nobody can give away or waive their own rights and freedoms.

Heyrani anticipates this could be the end of the MEK as a cult.

“Once the members become aware that they can leave the organisation and enjoy the rights and benefits of Albanian citizenship, Rajavi’s hold over them will be broken”, he said. This author reminds readers that when the MEK were in Iraq, the members were also undocumented: “Members used organisational names rather than their own, to ‘lose their individuality’. Those who needed to travel used fake passports, or passports belonging to other members and supporters. The members were told that this was for security purposes since the Iranian government were spying on them. The real reason was to prevent members having valid documentation. Members were reminded that if they tried to leave the organisation, the punishment under Saddam Hussein for anyone without identity papers or a passport was an automatic 8 prison sentence as an illegal immigrant. That meant, most members would not dare leave. Several who leave did were imprisoned in Abu Ghraib prison under this law.”

MEK women in Ashraf 3

Leaked photo of MEK’s Albanian headquarters

In Albania, Maryam Rajavi has benefitted from the notorious corruption in the country, from government down. She has benefitted from the tacit support of the CIA. This has allowed her to hold the members as undocumented slaves, totally dependent on the organisation for all their basic needs. People who managed to leave the cult have often struggled for some time to survive without the necessary documents that would allow them to work. In a matter of weeks, this situation will end. All the Iranians who came to Albania in 2016 will be able to register for the new documentation which will facilitate their break with the Rajavi cult and enable them to live freely and healthily in society.

A summary of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1: We are all born free. We all have our own thoughts and ideas and we should all be treated the same way.

Article 2: The rights in the UDHR belong to everyone, no matter who we are, where we’re from, or whatever we believe.

Article 3: We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety.

Article 4: No one should be held as a slave, and no one has the right to treat anyone else as their slave.

Article 5: No one has the right to inflict torture, or to subject anyone else to cruel or inhuman treatment.

Article 6: We should all have the same level of legal protection whoever we are, and wherever in the world we are.

Article 7: The law is the same for everyone, and must treat us all equally.

Article 8: We should all have the right to legal support if we are treated unfairly.

Article 9: Nobody should be arrested, put in prison, or sent away from our country unless there is good reason to do so.

Article 10: Everyone accused of a crime has the right to a fair and public trial, and those that try us should be independent and not influenced by others.

Article 11: Everyone accused of a crime has the right to be considered innocent until they have fairly been proven to be guilty.

Article 12: Nobody has the right to enter our home, open our mail, or intrude on our families without good reason. We also have the right to be protected if someone tries to unfairly damage our reputation.

Article 13: We all have the right to move freely within our country, and to visit and leave other countries when we wish.

Article 14: If we are at risk of harm we have the right to go to another country to seek protection.

Article 15: We all have the right to be a citizen of a country and nobody should prevent us, without good reason, from being a citizen of another country if we wish.

Article 16: We should have the right to marry and have a family as soon as we’re legally old enough. Our ethnicity, nationality and religion should not stop us from being able to do this. Men and women have the same rights when they are married and also when they’re separated. We should never be forced to marry. The government has a responsibility to protect us and our family.

Article 17: Everyone has the right to own property, and no one has the right to take this away from us without a fair reason.

Article 18: Everyone has the freedom to think or believe what they want, including the right to religious belief. We have the right to change our beliefs or religion at any time, and the right to publicly or privately practise our chosen religion, alone or with others.

Article 19: Everyone has the right to their own opinions, and to be able to express them freely. We should have the right to share our ideas with who we want, and in whichever way we choose.

Article 20: We should all have the right to form groups and organise peaceful meetings. Nobody should be forced to belong to a group if they don’t want to.

Article 21: We all have the right to take part in our country’s political affairs either by freely choosing politicians to represent us, or by belonging to the government ourselves. Governments should be voted for by the public on a regular basis, and every person’s individual vote should be secret. Every individual vote should be worth the same.

Article 22: The society we live in should help every person develop to their best ability through access to work, involvement in cultural activity, and the right to social welfare. Every person in society should have the freedom to develop their personality with the support of the resources available in that country.

Article 23: We all have the right to employment, to be free to choose our work, and to be paid a fair salary that allows us to live and support our family. Everyone who does the same work should have the right to equal pay, without discrimination. We have the right to come together and form trade union groups to defend our interests as workers.

Article 24: Everyone has the right to rest and leisure time. There should be limits on working hours, and people should be able to take holidays with pay.

Article 25: We all have the right to enough food, clothing, housing and healthcare for ourselves and our families. We should have access to support if we are out of work, ill, elderly, disabled, widowed, or can’t earn a living for reasons outside of our control. An expectant mother and her baby should both receive extra care and support. All children should have the same rights when they are born.

Article 26: Everyone has the right to education. Primary schooling should be free. We should all be able to continue our studies as far as we wish. At school we should be helped to develop our talents, and be taught an understanding and respect for everyone’s human rights. We should also be taught to get on with others whatever their ethnicity, religion, or country they come from. Our parents have the right to choose what kind of school we go to.

Article 27: We all have the right to get involved in our community’s arts, music, literature and sciences, and the benefits they bring. If we are an artist, a musician, a writer or a scientist, our works should be protected and we should be able to benefit from them.

Article 28: We all have the right to live in a peaceful and orderly society so that these rights and freedoms can be protected, and these rights can be enjoyed in all other countries around the world.

Article 29: We have duties to the community we live in that should allow us to develop as fully as possible. The law should guarantee human rights and should allow everyone to enjoy the same mutual respect.

Article 30: No government, group or individual should act in a way that would destroy the rights and freedoms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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