The soldiers of despair

She was about twenty when she left Iran in 1995 together with her husband, Haidari, and her two daughters, Elahe and Roya. The couple arrived in the Netherlands, where they applied for political asylum. The government refused it. The Mojahedin contacted her husband and asked him to join. Having been never politically involved before, he hesitated. His wife explains: “they told us that if we joined the organization, they would help us obtain political asylum in Holland”. Hoping to legalize their situation, they agreed to collect funds (She uses the word “beg”) for the organization.

Three years later, propaganda and brainwashing has succeeded in convincing the couple to move to Iraq. The trap slowly closed on them. Massoumeh was forced to give her two children to an Iranian nurse, a member of the movement. In 1998, using a forged passport,she arrived in Iraq, via Belgium and Jordan. Her husband joined her one week later. The young woman states: “I was personally seduced by Maryam Rajavi’s position on women’s liberation and by the idyllic picture they painted of the situation in Iraq. But we were soon confronted by a reality that was far less attractive”.

As soon as they arrived in Ashraf camp, the Haidaris were separated from each other. They agreed, in writing, to end their married life, to break completely with their families and to write a daily report summarizing what they did, heard and saw. They conformed to the group and underwent military training. Massoumeh learned to handle many different weapons, maintain liaison between networks operating on both sides of the border and even to carry out bomb attacks inside Iran.

In 2001, this young “people’s fighter” took part in an operation in Tehran itself. She marched dozens of Kilometers into Iran, with her fellow women commandos, carrying thirty Kilograms of explosives. On the way back, she was arrested near the town of Ourumieh. After intensive interrogation in the police station,she admitted everything she knew about the organization and was sent to prison. One year later, she was freed and returned to live with her parents in Tehran. But her troubles continue: her husband is still in the Ashraf Camp and does not know that she is alive. Her “death” was announced in “al-Qamar al-Monir”: or “shining Moon”,her nom de guerre.she has had no news of her children, Elahe and Roya, aged nufrse with whom they wee placed is to longer in service. The Netherland success. They remain missing. Have they,too, been sent to Iraq?

Describing the situation among the Mojahedin at the time she left Camp Ashraf, Massoumeh says:” the fighters were weary and losing hope. Those who admitted this were harshly disciplined. I did not know that there were special prisons for Mojahedn. I learned that later from former members I met after I returned to Iran. In fact, we were very badly informed about what went on inside Iraq and knew even less about events outside the country. We had no access to newspapers,magazines or books. Our only source of news was the movement’s own television station. There were no holidays. The few times we left the camp, it was only to bring a sick person to a Baghdad hospital and return right away. All emotional ties were forbidden by the organization. For example, we were not allowed to keep photographs of our own children, write letters to them or our parents, or become friends with anyone else. Since sexual relations had been banned, women could not become pregnant or have babies”.

From the book: The People’s Mojahedin of Iran: A Struggle for what? “By Victor Charbonnier

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