Considering that Mujahedin-e Khalq is a destructive cult of personality, former member, Hamid Agh Atabay give a simole but clear description of the life style in the MEK. Although, there is no single description that fits the lifestyle of every destructive cult out there, there are some common characteristics.
Many ex-cult members depict a type of isolated, moment-to-moment existence in which repressing fear and anxiety forms the ruling atmosphere. Chanting slogans, self-criticism and mind control become major coping mechanisms in this regard. Cut off from family, friends, homeland and the outside world, their old life becomes like a dream. This is what Hamid Agh Atabay, the most recent defector of the Cult of Rajavi describes in his Facebook post on October 25th.
Born in North of Iran on the coast of the Caspian Sea, Hamid Atabay writes of a heart-breaking scene when he visited the beach of Adriatic Sea in Albania after his defection from the MEK. He speaks of the six years he was isolated in the MEK’s camp in Manez north of Tirana only is 25 kilometers from the sea. He was never allowed to go to the beach freely.
“The MEK never allowed us to go to the beach unless there were no people there,” he writes. “They just took us there in winter and in groups of 200 members.”
Hamid Atabay was a soldier fighting in Iran-Iraq war when he was taken as prisoner of war by Iraqi forces. He was then recruited by MEK agents and this was the start of 35 years of imprisonment in the group. He was insulated by the Cult of Rajavi in Iraqi deserts for 29 years and in the Albanian village for 6 years. He left the group a few months ago and joined the free world.
Life in a destructive totalitarian cult is typically characterized by tight control. There is very little freedom in daily life: The leader prescribes what a member can and cannot do for every minute of the day. This includes what food he can eat, what books he can read, whom he can talk to, what he can wear, where he can go and how long he can sleep. The leader makes decisions, and the followers do as they are told.
This is what you can find in the simple words of Hamid Atabay: “Today I do not have to tell anyone that I want to go to the beach but when I was in the MEK, supervisors would always watch us even for a 20-meter distance inside the camp.”