Having been forced by the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to divorce his wife, Heidar Babai had to raise his three kids alone. He left the MEK in the early 1990s because he did not agree to divorce his wife, Nasrin Yunesi. Massoud Rajavi had ordered all married members of the group to divorce their spouses. A few years later Rajavi ordered members to give their children over to the MEK human traffickers to smuggle them to Europe and North America.
Nasrin and Heidar had two children, Hammed and Hamaad when they left Iran to join the MEK in Iraq. Under the order of the group, first, Heidar left his wife and two sons for Iraq and went there through Pakistan border. Then, Nasrin and Hamaad were smuggled to Iraq by the MEK agents. The MEK agent had coerced Nasrin to leave the six-year-old Hamed in Iran.
Heidar was in the MEK’s camp in Iraq when he talked to Nasrin on the phone, and he found out that Hamed was not with her. He shouted at the poor woman who was already mourning for her older son. “I shouted at Nasrin,” Heidar writes in his memoirs, “But I knew that it was not her fault. She was in that path because of me.”
Once, Heidar, Nasrin and Hamaad gathered in Camp Ashraf, Iraq, they could maintain their family center for a while. Heidar and Nasrin used to work in different units of the MEK army, Hamaad was kept in the buildings established for Mujahedin’s children. At night, they would stay with each other in their room in Eskan buildings.
In July 1988, Heidar took part in Forough-e Javidan, the MEK’s cross border operation against Iran, financially and logistically supported by Saddam Hossein. He was seriously wounded, hospitalized for several months. It took him a long time to be allowed to call Nasrin. Nasrin was crying, she could not believe her ears. She had been told by the commanders that her husband was killed.
Forough-e Javidan was a catastrophic defeat for Massoud Rajavi who had the illusion to capture Tehran in three days. He wanted to justify his failure not by his logical thinking but by blaming members for being preoccupied by wife and life!
Therefore, the order for forced divorce was issued. Heidar did not obey the order. He kept on seeing Nasrin and Hemaad. For a short period of time, they were the only family who would still go to Eskan to be together at nights. He had to walk a long distance in dark to reach Eskan. Nasrin got pregnant with her third son, Pooyan, but the MEK leaders did not let Heidar know about it. They forced Nasrin to stop the family visits.
Following the order, a lot of the MEK members announced their willingness to leave the group. It was not just a simple request to leave a normal group. In order to leave the cult-like structure of the group, members had to be indoctrinated, punished, imprisoned and if none of the tactics succeeded, they were surrendered to Iraqi authorities. Heidar was lucky to be able to gain a passport for himself and his family, but ultimately he had to leave Iraq without Nasrin and Pooyan.
A few months took Heidar and his second son Hamaad to reach Netherlands. They lived in refugee camps. At the time, Massoud Rajavi had issued his second order to totally collapse MEK families. This time, he had ordered the separation of children from their parents. Nasrin had to leave the two-months-old Pooyan to MEK human traffickers. They had taken him to Netherlands, but the MEK authorities did not want to give the boy to his uncle Siroos who lived there.
Heidar made efforts to get his little son back. The poor baby was left with a MEK female defector who wanted to use him to take refuge from Dutch government. His brother, Siroos could finally take the baby. When Heidar reached Netherlands and saw his son for the first time, named him Pooyan.
The single father and his two sons had to stay in a refugee camp for two years. He was then given a house by the government. His efforts to contact Nasrin in the MEK was totally futile. “Each time I tried to contact her via the MEK offices, she would call me in a few days and would insult me,” he recounts. “This was not my Nasrin, the love of my life. She was always polite; she would never shout at me. I was sure that she was under pressure by the MEK to make me stop looking for her.”
The next step for Heidar was the reunion of Hamed who had been left wandering among his dad’s and mom’s relatives in Iran, for six years. Heidar went to Turkey, he organized Hamed’s departure from Iran. He paid too much money to get Hamed’s passport to take him to his home in the Netherlands.
Now he was responsible for raising three sons who missed their mother very much. “My sons always miss their mother,” he writes. “Especially Pooyan who has never seen her. I was the only father who would take his son at school. Pooyan always witnessed other children whose mothers were waiting for them.”
Today, Heidar’s sons are grown up, but Nasrin is not allowed to visit them yet. She is still barred from the outside world in the MEK’s headquarters in Albania, called Ashraf 3. “I am sure that Nasrin has no access to the Internet,” Heidar writes. “She has not been able to read my memoirs, but the MEK has brought her to their TV channel to show me that she has no intention to leave the group, but I know that she is kept there against her will.”