The day after the police operation against the People’s Mojahedin in the Paris suburbs, European and world public opinion were shocked to discover individuals voluntarily turning themes into human torches.
What level of fanaticism could push seemingly sane and healthy people to such extremes? Moreover, some of the “spectators” tried lock the access of rescue services which could have saved the victims’ lives. The French judicial system could only note the facts prevent any repetition.
‘Two Iranians suspected of preventing the intervention of rescuers while a woman was immolating herself in front of DST headquarters in Paris on Wednesday will be brought before an instructional magistrate for their a criminal investigation, judicial sources made known on Friday.
The prosecutor’s office stated that very day a criminal enquiry possible ‘obstruction of rescue services’ and ‘provocation to suicide’. It will soon demand an arrest warrant. The crime of obstructing rescue efforts can be punished with up to 7 years in prison.
The two prisoners bought 8 litres of petrol in a service station in rue Nelaton, near the DST HQ. They then provided it to an Iranian woman who died yesterday in the specialized military hospital for burns, Percy, in Clamart (Hauts-de-Seine), the same source added. One of them was an obstacle to rescue workers when they tried save the 44 year old victim, while the other was in possession of the victim’s blouse and papers, judicial sources emphasized.
The two Iranians were questioned by police Tuesday morning during the operation against the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. They were released during the evening, the judicial sources said.
One Iranian woman, arrested and questioned on Wednesday was in possession of gasoline-filled bottles and a letter explaining her intention to commit suicide. She was freed, she stated”.
This is the point to begin asking some difficult questions. For many years, specialists on international terrorism, like the experts on post-revolutionary Iran, have been aware of the sectarian and violent nature of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. Numerous journalists have had a bone to pick with their propaganda. Those who gave space to the Movement’s “deserters” or who expressed the slightest criticism were violently denounced as agents of Teheran, bought by the regime. But, in that Summer of 2003, reality hit.
Tom Heneghan of the British press agency, Reuters, asked himself if he was watching a sect in full collapse:
“The images of men and women spraying themselves with petrol before setting themselves on fire in the streets of several European capitals, has shed dramatic light on the last days of the main armed opposition to the Teheran regime.
Since Tuesday, several supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) have tried to immolate themselves in Paris, London, Rome and Berne.
A woman in her forties has succumbed to her wounds Thursday night in the Paris region after immolating herself the previous day to denounce the intervention of French police against Maryam Rajavi — the person whom the Iranian opposition want one day to become President of Iran.
Successive student demonstrations in the streets of Teheran and the growing pressure of the American authorities on the Iranian regime, summoned to explain its nuclear programme, could have led the Mojahedin to believe that the time had come to overthrow the authorities they have been fighting for thirty years.
However in just a few weeks, the organization has seen its military installations dismantled in Iraq, its arsenal seized by the Americans and its HIQ in Auvers-sur- Oise, North of Paris, searched and closed down by the French police.
For many specialists on Iran, these images of men and women in flames, writhing in pain have shown the true nature of the PMOI: a sect based on the cult of personality of Maryam Rajavi and her husband, Massoud, one of the movement’s founders.
‘It’s a sect,’ says Ali Ansari, expert on Iranian affairs at Britain’s Durham University.
‘Their militants are strangely, passionately loyal to this couple. The now realise who they are,’ he adds.
‘My only hope, is that, in the event of a revolution, we won’t have the People’s Mojahedin in their place,’ confides a young Iranian interviewed in Teheran: ‘They’re worse than the mullahs’.
From the book: Autopsy of an ideological drift