As all Iranians around the world celebrate Nowruz, the Persian New Year, there are a few thousands of Iranians taken as hostages by the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (the MKO/ MEK/ PMOI/ Cult of Rajavi) in Albania. However, recent developments regarding the MEK hostages indicate a potential positive perspective. As the Cult of Rajavi gets older, the number of members gets fewer and the fate of the cult gets darker as well.
New Year wishes for MEK hostages
Following the beginning of the Persian New Year on March 20th, on the spring equinox, families of the MEK members –hostages—who have been longing to contact them for years, sent video messages of New Year wishes to their loved ones in the MEK’s Camp Ashraf 3, near Tirana. Although the MEK commanders have banned their members from the outside world, families publish their messages in the hope that their loved ones might see them sometime.
There are also a group of former members of the MEK residing in Albania who have established ASILA (Association for the Support of the Iranians Living in Albania. Their mission is to aid MEK defectors to cope with the new challenges of getting deradicalized and living a normal life in the free world. Members of ASILA set the ancient traditional Nowruz table, Sofreh Haftsin in their office in Tirana. In separate video messages, they addressed their former comrades in the MEK wishing them a blessed new year that brings them freedom from the bars of the Cult of Rajavi.
ASILA members are supported and accompanied by Albanian citizens. Among the video messages, the one of Sarfaraz Rahimi (MEK defector) and his Albanian wife is probably the most significant one. Arisa Rahimi who speaks Persian quite fluently tries to assure MEK hostages that the Albanian community will welcome them warmly if they leave the group. “Guys! You are not alone here, in Albania,” she says. “We are here. Iranians are here. We are a big family here.” (Sarfaraz Rahimi left the MEK cult a few years ago. He then married Arisa. They have a four year old son now.)
Optimistic perspectives for MEK hostages
By the rise of defections from the MEK after its relocation in Albania in 2015, the number of the group members have been declining during the past years. Besides, a dozen of members of the group including commanders have passed away during just last year. Also, there have been no birth since 1989 when Massoud Rajavi forced members to divorce and engage in mandatory celibacy. And, the group’s recruiters have not been able to recruit new members in the neighboring countries of Iran because their fraudulent tactics to deceive people have been exposed to the Iranian diaspora.
Thus, by the start of new year, the Cult of Rajavi gets one year older and eventually smaller in size and power. In contrast, the Iranian community in Albania who enjoy free world outside the MEK’s camp is getting bigger and bigger. Everyday, more Albanian citizens join ASILA as honorary members and therefore social, cultural and family links develop between the two nations. As the result, Albanians become aware of the threat of an extremist cult with a record of terrorist activities in their territory.
Although the MEK leaders are skillful manipulators of their bribed western sponsors who run their multi-million dollar lobbying campaigns, they do not seem to be able to deceive the Albanian public opinion who just live around them and are in direct contact with defectors of the group.
By Mazda Parsi