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Internal Relations of MKO and Ideological Revolution (5)

MKO falsely claims to be practicing the most democratic modes in its internal relations. It announces that the organization has always provided an open window for dissident members, critics, and even infiltrators to express their views and is showing the highest degree of tolerance compared with other revolutionary organizations. On the contrary, most former MKO members report instances of human rights abuses in organization. They acknowledge the fact that Mojahedin suppress dissident members by means of intimidation, torture, false accusations, contempt and other psychological pressures. The main objective of such actions is to stop members leave the organization; otherwise they have to suffer physical and mental pressure as well as being branded as the agents and traitors.

Understanding of the fact that leaving cults is too difficult and costly may give us an insight into the psychological pressure adopted by the organization toward its critics. In fact, physical and mental pressure exercised upon dissident members by means of imprisonment, torture and brainwashing is shared by MKO and other cults. The raised contradiction between the organization’s principles and acts of revisionism are not only the cause for members’ separation but also may help reveal the reason why the organization suppresses dissident members. The book “Cults in Our Midst” gives us a clear picture of how dissatisfied members and critics are treated within a cult:

There is a closed logic system of an authoritarian leadership tolerating no criticism or change except that is confirmed by the leader. If you criticize or complain, the leader or others may accuse you of being a quitter and the organization is not accountable at all. In such a closed system of logic, you may not question any principle or rule or refer to the facts of contradiction concerning the ideological system or the instructions you have already received. In case you expose such observations, your statements may be altered and debated in a way that they completely contradict what you intended. You are made feel you have been wrong from the beginning. In cults, members are always wrong and the system is always right. [1]

Such mental and physical approaches have been applied after the initiation of the ideological revolution within MKO as a reaction against the ever-increasing criticisms on the part of members. According to many MKO’s ex-members, in this phase, under the pretext of security considerations, many dissident members and critics were either imprisoned or killed suspiciously. Mojahedin are also accused of establishing prisons inside the organization and exercising mental and physical pressures on prisoners. Niyabati justifies such actions as the inevitable consequence of ideological revolution aiming at testing the loyalty of members to leadership. He considers members’ blind obedience and submission to imprisonment, physical and mental tortures as a factor of confirming their loyalty to the leadership:

“Mojahedin leadership, in line of replacing and stabilizing new elements in Hanif’s ideology, needed recognition of trustful forces, even if they were suspected and confined by their ideal organization. [2]

It has to be noted that such procedures are rooted in Stalin’s security clearance of communist party in the Soviet Union in an attempt to make members obedient by means of physical and mental tortures. According to Singer when writing on a phase of the USSR communist party:

During purge trials in the Soviet Union in 1930’s, men and women who were accused of plotting secret moves against the government had to sign false confessions and as well as giving false testimonies concerning crimes committed by others. The world media were bewildered and astonished to face such a phenomenon. [3]

Regardless of security justifications, Niyabati justifies the circumstance from a different angle. In his view, the Camp Ashraf is a micro model materializing all the constituents of an ideal society. He considers security system, police forces and prison as essential factors for the survival of the political power and also as manifestations of the MKO’s approach toward an ideal society. He refers to the necessity of the existence of prison and security system in such a miniature model and considers physical and mental tortures exercised in Camp Ashraf as a practice of how to deal the dissidents and critics:

Such a society had to be a micro model of a real society consisting of government, president, the parliament in exile, armed forces, police forces, prison, court, mass media, diplomatic relations, economical and logistic systems. [4]

Despite such justifications, Niyabati cannot present a solution for the aftermath of the ideological test:

The way the organization treated such members (dissident members and critics) on the eve of the formation of a value-driven revolution seemed to be highly problematic well beyond a mere security issue. [5]

Niyabati implicitly states that the organization initiated a “process of clarifying” that later on worked as a granted opportunity to take revenge on dissidents and start an internal purge:

Whatever it was, the process of clarifying gave rise to a wrong procedure of treating insiders in MKO. The move failed in long-term to meet political and strategic objectives of the organization that led the Iranian people’s modern revolution. [6]

Such assertions confirm the claims made by former MKO members concerning the exposure of the insiders to imprisonment, mental and physical torture inside the organization. Mojahedin react to claims harshly as they did when the Human Rights Watch report revealed instances of abuses inside the group; the international body was consequently branded as collaborating with Iran. Mojahedin insist on saying that they have a democratic form of leadership and organizational relations. In Human Rights Watch report we read:

Human Rights Watch interviewed five of these former MKO members who were held in Abu Ghraib prison. Their testimonies, together with testimonies collected from seven other former MKO members, paint a grim picture of how the organization treated its members, particularly those who held dissenting opinions or expressed an intent to leave the organization. [7]

Somewhere else, we see that the interrogative sessions lead to the death of some members:

The witnesses reported two cases of deaths under interrogation. Three dissident members—Abbas Sadeghinejad, Ali Ghashghavi, and Alireza Mir Asgari—witnessed the death of a fellow dissident, Parviz Ahmadi, inside their prison cell in Camp Ashraf. Abbas Sadeghinejad told Human Rights Watch that he also witnessed the death of another prisoner, Ghorbanali Torabi, after Torabi was returned from an interrogation session to a prison cell that he shared with Sadeghinejad. [8]


1. T. Singer, Margaret; Cults in Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace.

2. Niyabati, Bijan. A Different Look at Mojahedin’s Internal Revolution , Khavaran Publication, 54.

3. T T. Singer, Margaret; Cults in Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace..

4. Niyabati, Bijan. A Different Look at Mojahedin’s Internal Revolution , Khavaran Publication, 54.

5. ibid.

6. ibid.

7. Human Rights Watch report. No Exit: Human Rights Abuses inside MKO Camps, 5.

8. ibid.

Bahar Irani – Mojahedin.ws – July 1, 2007

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