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Manipulated Cult Techniques for the Abuse of Children

Mojahedin-e Khalq’s internal revolutions, known as ideological revolutions, surfaced the group’s latent capacity to transform into a cult. Gradually and through cleverly developed phases, the Rajavies established a cult of personality that shared characteristics with other previously established similar cults. In the same way, the Mojahedin cult is manipulating cult techniques and undemocratic modus operandi to exploit the insiders under the pretext of campaign for the accomplishment of freedom and democracy in Iran. Forced marriages within the organization resulted in inescapable birth of children although some recruits were spouses with children.  

1- Mojahedin have exploited children for collecting money under the disguise of charity work in European countries and many charity institutions were duped by the group’s sham-charity activities.

2- Children have been forcefully separated from their parents and deprived of the warm bosom of the family.

3- Children have been abused by Mojahedin-run propaganda machine to win political and social support.

4- The children of dissatisfied members have been taken as hostages within the organization to prevent the parents’ detachment.

5- Children have gone through hideous cult techniques and brainwashing methods and inspired with hate and enmity as well as receiving military training and ideological teachings.

6- Children have been imprisoned along with their parents who were accused of vague organizational allegations.

There are much more instances of child abuse to discuss, all of which disclose the variety of manipulated cult techniques. Amazingly, the techniques are nearly shared in most cults; children are sent into the public places in organized teams to collect funds under the guise of charities and foundations that foster homeless, orphan and abandoned children. Elaborating on one of the instances of exploiting children for illegal fund-raising activities Thaler Singer, the author of Cults in Our Midst, states:

In another case, a woman objected to her fund-raising team leader that it would be lying to people to say cult members were collecting money for a children’s home when they knew the money went to the leader’s headquarters. She was told, "That’s evidence of your degraded mentality. You are restoring to our leader what’s rightfully his, that’s all! [1]

Those who are familiar with MKO to some scale are shocked to see the awful similarity in justifying the abuses. The difference is that while the leaders of some cults are brought before the tribunal for harsh maltreatment of children and forced cult abuses that are plain violation of their rights, MKO’s leader have so far escaped trial for political causes:

In 1986, William A. Lewis, sixty-three-year-old leader of the Black Hebrew House of Judah in Michigan, was convicted of conspiracy to enslave children and causing the 1983 beating death of twelve-year-old John Yarbough in an act of discipline. In 1988, fifty-three children were removed by law enforcement officials from a group called Ecclesia Athletic Association, following the beating death of eight-year-old Dayna Lorae Broussard. The children raised in the group could not read and but knew the Book of Romans by heart. Children aged three to eighteen were forced to run long distances and perform drills and exercises to earn money. The dead girl’s father, who was the group’s leader, and seven other members pleaded guilty to a federal charge of a conspiracy to deny civil rights. Earlier, four Ecclesia followers were convicted of manslaughter in the case of the young girl’s death. [2]

Many defectors are unanimous that victimization of children by the parents was enforced on the members following the ideological revolution. Elaborating on the process of dehumanizing the members Shams-e Haeri writes:

Rajavi’s thesis for emancipation of women codified the spouses’ divorce and annihilation of family foundation and human fleeing. The women not only were enforced by Rajavi to divorce the husbands, but also deserted their children and killed their love in their hearts and committed them to the foster-houses run in Western countries to be disciplined enough to be recruited into the leadership council. [3]

In many instances, when the parents rejected to surrender their children, the children’s daily needs such as milk and nutriment rations were halted to force parents submit to the wills of the leadership:

They had allocated one of POW’s camps in Iraq to defected members. It was called Debs and located near Kirkuk. At the time the number of defectors reached 600 or so among whom were families and children. To torment and harass them, the organization cut the food ration into half and cut off the children’s milk. [4]

Furthermore, as one of the defectors claims, Rajavi’s crimes done against families and children cannot be categorized as political but rather as social:

Rajavi’s crimes are not political in essence. Because of displacing children and separating them from their parents for illegal political abuse, force divorces, imprisonment and psychological-physical tortures, plotting to destabilize familial relations, employing club-wielders, and outraging human values, Rajavi is a felon. [5]

And what the organization sought when its agents battered the parents before the eyes of children:

For instance, Mohssen Rezai severely battered a father called Farhang before the eyes of his two five and seven children in hostel E; the children cried “oh, daddy, daddy” while a number of other families were watching the scene. [6]

In some cases, the children of dissatisfied members were taken as hostages within the organization as a leverage of pressure on the parents to submit:

None of the recruits were told from the beginning that if they joined, their familial independence would be violated, or had to write daily reports of what they did and dreamed, or had to divorce their wives. They were never told that if one day they decided to leave the organization, their children would be taken as hostages and they were deprived of seeing them. [7]


Referring to different dimensions of child abuse in MKO, Anne Singleton writes:

In Germany, the government uncovered the Mojahedin’s financial activities. After a two year investigation, the German High Court on 21st December 2001 closed the Mojahedin ‘shop’ – twenty-five houses and bases – after evidence was found of misuse of Social Security and fraud. Disturbingly, the Mojahedin had used the members’ children who had been evacuated during the Gulf War of 1991. These children, whilst they lived in the Mojahedin’s bases in Germany, were required to undertake work in the base and take part in fund-raising activities, collecting money in the street. At the same time, the Mojahedin were abusing every possible avenue of Social Security in Germany in order to claim benefits for these children. Documents in Germany showed that ten to twelve million Marks had been used by the Mojahedin to buy weapons. Considering that a Social Security claim of 130 – 260 Marks could be made per child per day, this is a conservative figure of the amount that the Mojahedin collected on account of these children. [8]

The children in MKO are deprived of their slightest rights. They suffer institutional child abuse and are exposed to imminent danger through the most harsh and pitiless trainings they underwent in unsuitable conditions:

In Mojahedin’s ideology, the children are the most neglected individuals since they fail to be regarded as the appropriate means to help fulfilment of Rajavi’s power-seeking ambitions. They have no clear future and are deprived of their most natural rights of living with warm-hearted parents. The Camp Ashraf’s school much resembled that of a foster-house rather than an ordinary school while the organization, availing big sums of funds, could provide the best educational and fun facilities for the children. Unlike other child-care centres, headmasters and preceptors in charge had no pedagogical experiences and their appointment was the result of a punishment because of their organizational inefficiency. The children reaching the age of thirteen were immediately pulled out of the school and drafted into the organization. They were exploited physically and were not cognizant of their rights. [9]

 Shams-e Haeri sees a very close resemblance between the cult relations of MKO in the contemporary political milieu and that of Stalin’s Communist reign over the Soviet Union:

Under the manipulation of Stalinist and psychological methods as well as creating an atmosphere of intimidation and offense, the members were afraid of receiving degrading labels and thus the mothers were silenced. At the present, hundreds of children are kept under the state-run foster-houses or the guardianship of Iranian families residing in European countries for five years apart from their parents; they are suffering emotional and mental pressures and have no memory of their parents. They are so drawn and depressed that one is shocked by so much imposed brutality. In Germany alone hundreds of these children are exploited in a variety of illegal fashions. They are brought into the streets as demonstrating mobs or as fund collecting orphans. The older ones have to sit up till late and do laborious tasks of the organization and, consequently most of them are sleepy at the classes in the school. Their cloths are in poor condition and they have no fun, even not permitted to watch the German TV. The girls above twelve have to wear scarves and are thus depressed and in a permanent argument with the ranks in charge. Two of these girls have deliberately burned themselves by hot irons and some other have escaped to live with their relatives residing in other countries or sought protection of German government and were granted separate lodgings. [10]

Primary health care, providing provision of adequate nutritious foods and clothing as well an atmosphere of love and happiness are the least essentialities that the guardians have to take into consideration to foster children. As described by defectors, children lived in exceptionally difficult conditions in MKO’s prison-like child care houses:

The hostels where the children are lodged are too cramped and dark and like prisons; 10 children have to sleep close to each other in a single room. The children have to abide in two culturally different milieus; the German schools and the organization’s training abodes. The incompatibility of the two contexts had caused children develop dual personality. At least two children have died of the custodian’s maltreatment in France and Netherland and a girl has been sexually abused by her American foster parent. Some are addicts to drugs. Rajavi in one of his speeches announced that “a Mojahed woman is not the mother of her child as a Mojahed man is not the father, and a Mojahed woman is not her husband’s wife”. He called upon all members to submit to him and abandon all life and human attachments. [11]

The mentioned instances that disclose blatant ignorance of children rights in MKO and their exposure to perils of oppression, exploitation and abuse, makes it an urgent responsibility for the organizations protecting human and child rights to investigate children’s violated rights within MKO. Mojahedin leaders for certain have to stand trial for the terrible crimes done against children and their deprivation of being grown up in the family environment. Instead, we see that Maryam Rajavi announced her group’s preparedness to take care of 1000 Iraqi orphans. The described condition of MKO’s children might be the horrendous destiny awaiting Iraqi children if the global community continues to turn a blind eye to the plights of Iraqi orphans.


1- Thaler Singer, Margaret; Cults in Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace, 68.

2- Ibid, 87.

3- Shams-e Haeri, Hdi; Mordab (originally in Persian), 55.

4- Ibid, 59.

5- Ibid, 60.

6- Ibid, 62.

7- Ibid, 66.

8- Singleton, Anne; Saddam’s Private Army, Iran-Interlink, 2003.

9- Shams-e Haeri, Hdi; Mordab (originally in Persian), 71.

10- Ibid, 71.

11- Ibid, 74.

Bahar Irani    Mojahedin.ws    August 12, 2007

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