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Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 301

MEK Witness Suffers Dementia

++ Albanian media has reported on the arrival of the Swedish court in Durres to take witness testimony from MEK members in the trial of Iranian national Hamid Nouri for alleged crimes against humanity in 1988. Swedish prosecutors invoked “the principle of ‘universal jurisdiction’ by which a state can assert jurisdiction over an accused person regardless of their citizenship, residence or where the alleged crimes took place.”

According to observers in Albania, the situation is “chaotic” as one witness was dismissed by the judge because he suffers dementia. Another MEK member claims they witnessed the “massacre of 30,000 people”. Certainly the legal teams on both sides will have a lot of work to sort out fact from fiction in this case. The MEK witnesses are led by the MEK’s legal representative, Behzad Safari, a man who defrauded his own father of $30,000 and who studied dentistry in London before joining MEK in the 1980s.

This, as much as anything, signals that not a lot of legal principle is involved in pursuing this case. Ironically, simultaneous to this trial, Iran’s judiciary is pursuing the MEK leaders through the International Criminal Court in The Hague to seek redress for 42 former MEK members who, it was found, were subjected to human rights abuses while members of the organisation. A petition raised by families of MEK members exposes why the Swedish prosecutors have had to travel to Albania: “At present, about 2,000 members of the MEK are living in the organization’s forced labor camp in Albania under the control of a destructive mind control cult and in modern slavery situation, and have no right to have any contact with the outside world, especially family and friends.”

++ Zeit Online in Germany has published another lengthy and informative piece by Louisa Hommerich. Last week the MEK exploded with anger at publication of her interview with a former MEK member and child soldier who has now returned to Germany. He accepted to be named and he talked in some depth about the abuses committed against the children of MEK members like himself. This led to the MEK issuing defamatory rants and death threats against Hommerich. This week’s article exposes activities linked to the MEK’s Berlin headquarters. Speaking to former MEK members, Hommerich has pieced together the ways MEK controls its members through psychological manipulation and what essentially amounts to captivity. She also writes about how and why German politicians have been advocating for the MEK for years. Delving into the history of the MEK, Hommerich elicits a damning picture of the extreme cultic abuse used by Rajavi to control and exploit the members. In Germany, former members describe their activities as fundraising through deception and computer work. They describe how politicians who were persuaded to support the MEK were victims of this deception.

“You only need one or two famous names,” a former member of the People’s Mojahedin explains of its lobbying strategy. You have to invest a lot of energy in the first contact person. You have to shower the person with attention and compliments, give them gifts – and give them the feeling of being committed to a meaningful, noble cause. In the second step, one would then slowly introduce the idea that the person could establish an association or a society that advocates for the People’s Mojahedin. ‘It’s a psychological trick: when you ask someone for a favour after so much flattery, people think they owe you something and can hardly say no.’ With a single respected politician, you can attract many more prominent supporters.”

Although the former members speak of historical events, Hommerich leaves us in no doubt that these practices are still ongoing and that from the inside of the MEK “many things look different with the People’s Mojahedin or Iranian Mojahedin Khalq than from the outside.”

++ A protest in Isfahan attracted around half a million citizens who asked for changes to the water management which causes the Zayanderud river to dry up. Anti-Iran media and commentators were quick to jump on the event to either claim it was an entirely government created event or that an uprising was imminent. When it became clear that this was a genuine, peaceful demonstration concerning a genuine grievance of ordinary citizens, several outlets withdrew their posts. Hilariously, the protest breathed life back into the long-dead Massoud Rajavi, who announced his support for “toppling the regime” in Esfahan and essentially claiming he had organised it. This prompted a flurry of social media posts ridiculing both Massoud and Maryam Rajavi for supporting the Esfahan protest.

Hundreds of people in the central Iranian city of Isfahan have joined farmers on the dried-up riverbed of Zayandehrud to demand that the government release water into the river.

State broadcaster reports that First VP Mokhber will address the protesters on live TV today. pic.twitter.com/Q1jQhPu2gA

— Kian Sharifi (@KianSharifi) November 19, 2021

In English:

++ A right-wing British newspaper reported on the Home Office’s openly racist attempts to remove ‘illegal’ asylum seekers before their claims are considered by flying them to Albania. According to a source close to the MEK in Durres, Maryam Rajavi is very unhappy about this influx of brown migrants. She believes this will lower public tolerance of ‘foreigners’, ‘dilute’ the attention paid to her and undermine her monopoly on corrupt government collusion. This comes on top of previous reports that America will send Afghan refugees to Albania for processing before accepting them in the US. No wonder the prospects for EU membership are diminishingly small.

++ The same right-wing British newspaper, The Daily Mail, picked up on another controversy this week as Jordan’s FA alleged that the Iranian women’s team goalkeeper is actually a man. In addition to Zohreh Koudaei’s own retort that this is bullying from Jordan, this prompted an angry response from Iranians who accused Jordan of being sore losers. Some pointed out that the Jordanian mindset is so backward that they can’t conceive of a woman saving goals and therefore conclude that she must be a man. Several commentators remarked that Maryam Rajavi said absolutely nothing about this situation because she will never waste her breath unless she is being paid for it. And that since she never supports women or Iranians, she herself is neither Iranian nor a feminist.

Nov 19, 2021

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