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Letter of the CEO of Nejat Society in Iran to the President of ASILA in Albania

Mr. Dashamir Mersuli
President of ASILA
Tirana, Albania

Dear Sir,
Nejat Society is a campaigning human rights NGO with branches all over Iran. It is supported by former members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MeK, MKO, PMOI, NLA, and NCRI) and the estranged families of current members who reside in the MEK camp in Manez, Albania called Ashraf 3. Our aim is to secure the human rights of the members of the MEK, particularity their right to contact their families. I am writing on behalf of these families to draw your attention to some very grave violations of these basic human rights.
In 2016, under a flawed agreement struck between the US, Albania, the UNHCR in Geneva and the MeK, the UNHCR facilitated the transfer of the entire MEK organization (known as Saddam’s Private Army) to Albania from Iraq. This was achieved by moving just over 2000 MEK members to Tirana without their informed consent and without identity or travel documents.

The Obama administration’s policy at that time was to de-radicalize the members and distribute them among other European countries. This policy changed under the Trump administration allowing the MEK leader, Maryam Rajavi, to isolate and control the members in a closed camp where they have been set to work in a click farm propagating propaganda and misinformation against Iran.

Experts in cultic abuse identify the MEK as a destructive mind control cult which uses psychological manipulation and coercive control to brainwash members. This involves abuses of their most basic human rights including preventing contact with the outside world, particularity family and friends. The members are forbidden from marrying and forming a family, they do not receive salaries for their work and they are prevented from freely leaving the cult. Members of the MeK are living in conditions of modern slavery, yet the Albanian authorities – police, security, public health officials, etc – have no jurisdiction inside the camp. This is surely unacceptable for the national interests of Albania.

On first arriving in Albania, before being incarcerated in the camp, hundreds of members were able to leave the organization and try to live independently. Unfortunately, under the aforementioned agreement all the MEK members were to be supported by the organization. This meant that those who left were stranded without identity papers and no means to support themselves. As an indication of their desperation to escape the cult, members continue to leave under these conditions.

For this reason, the families of these stranded former members were delighted that you and your colleagues have established the Association for the Support of Iranians Living in Albania (ASILA) to help these vulnerable individuals. We are also hopeful that we can support your work with our own efforts. As you are no doubt aware, many families have applied for visas to visit their loved ones in Albania. Unfortunately, the Albanian authorities have succumbed to the lies and deception of Maryam Rajavi who claims these families pose a security risk to her members and have refused to issue visas even to the elderly parents of some members. However, Rajavi’s objection to family visits is not made on the basis of security. Family contact has been banned for decades in the MEK because it breaks the mental and emotional isolation needed for brainwashing.

This is a gross violation of the fundamental rights of the members and their families. And as far as the families are concerned, the Albanian government has a share in this violation of human rights by supporting the MEK and allowing it to act with impunity against the members. Thousands of letters and emails from the families to the Albanian authorities requesting contact with their loved ones during all these years have gone unanswered.
I urge you, as president of ASILA, to raise this issue with the Albanian authorities and demand answers. Why are members of the MEK denied contact and visit with their families? Why does the government not issue visas for the families of the members so that they can travel to Albania and visit their loved ones after decades? Why do the Albanian authorities have no control over what is happening inside the MEK camp?

We look forward to hearing from you and anticipate a positive outcome for the families and the MEK members.

Yours Sincerely,
Ebrahim Khodabandeh
CEO, Nejat Society

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