Leaked photo of MEK's Albanian headquarters

It is March 9, 2023: Six months have passed since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, which has reignited an uprising against the Islamic Republic inside Iran. A conference is held in the US Congress in Washington. The signatures of 160 US senators on the H.RES100 confirm their support for a democratic, secular Iran (without nuclear weapons) . Only two words in the adopted resolution cause concern: Maryam Rajavi – President of the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), a political umbrella organization for the People’s Mujahideen (MEK).

Internationally, some media and politicians present the MEK as a legitimate alternative to the Islamic Republic – although polls and studies show that Maryam Rajavi has less than one percent of support among the Iranian population. How is this possible? And why is the MEK such a hated organization among Iranians inside and outside of Iran?

The MEK – Mujahideen-e-Kalqh („People’s Resistance Fighters“), also known as MKO (Mujahideen-e-Kalqh Organization), PMOI (People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran) or under its political arm NCRI (National Council of Resistance Iran) with it’s leader Maryam Rajavi – is a militant, armed organization, which was founded in Iran in 1965 with the aim of combining the ideology of Islamism with Marxism and overthrowing the ruling government of the Shah in order to seize power. Since then, the MEK has killed thousands of innocent people – including US citizens and children.


Since its founding in the mid-1960s, its leadership has called for armed „resistance“. After the establishment of the communist Tudeh party inside Iran, the MEK was the second communist armed group inside Iran created, trained and financed by the Soviet Union. The MEK regularly carried out assassinations in Iran with the aim of overthrowing the Shah at the time. Innocent civilians and US citizens were among those killed. Before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the MEK entered into an alliance with Khomeini in the expectation of gaining government supremacy against the clerics after a successful overthrow. But Khomeini betrayed the MEK and all other groups of the time. Opposition members were systematically persecuted and executed by the thousands – including MEK supporters. Its leadership elite initially fled into exile in France and from 1986 a large part of the organization moved to Iraq.

From there, its military arm, the NLA (National Liberation Army), fought on the Iraqi side against Iranian troops. The first Gulf War lasted eight years and claimed almost 1.4 million lives – one million of them on the Iranian side. After the second Gulf War (1991), the MEK carried out a mass murder of Kurds on behalf of Saddam Hussein under the code name Operation Pearl. The order came directly from Maryam Rajavi: „Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.”

The FBI Criminal Investigation Report of 2004 shows that the biological and chemical weapons used by Saddam Hussein over the years were stored in MEK camps to hide them from UN inspections. The MEK’s cooperation with Iraq only ended when Saddam Hussein was overthrown by the allied forces in 2003. Since the dissolution of Camp Ashraf by US troops, the majority of the approximately 5,000 MEK supporters found there have been living in Albania.

Massoud Rajavi became the leader of the MEK in 1979 after serving a prison sentence during the Shah’s dynasty. Maryam Rajavi became his third wife in 1985. In 1993, the MEK elected Maryam Rajavi as the „future president of Iran“. Massoud Rajavi has been in hiding since 2003 and only Maryam Rajavi appears in public.


Numerous international reports from former members reveal the internal organizational structure:

According to the ideology, one can only become „pure“ by renouncing one’s own desires, family and pure devotion to the

leadership of the MEK

From an early age, children must salute the image of Massoud and Maryam Rajavi in the morning and evening
Men and women are strictly separated
Romantic/sexual relationships are forbidden, even friendly relationships are prohibited
Couples must get divorced within the MEK
Complete isolation from all family members
Children who were kept in an orphanage in Germany, for example, were only allowed to speak to their parents once a year and/or only received a short, distant letter from them once a year
Contact between the separated parents and children is monitored
External contact between members is prohibited/controlled
All members are encouraged to spy on each other
Consumption of TV, newspapers, music is prohibited in the organization
Fear is stirred up among members that „outside“ regime agents are waiting for them everywhere or that all other people are selfish/evil and only life in the MEK is paradise
Everyday life is highly structured: Getting up at 4 a.m., working six to seven days a week, followed by ideological meetings in the evening
A heavy workload, excessive criticism by the group and sleep deprivation are methods used to break the will of the members
Everyone must follow strict religious rules such as praying at least three times a day
Wearing the Hijab is mandatory
Minors go through weeks of all-day long ideology seminars
In these ideology sessions, everybody is required to expose all „forbidden“ thoughts to the group – for example, sexual fantasies or whether they have masturbated
Thoughts about the family are forbidden because they would weaken the members in the fight
If someone thinks about leaving the MEK, that person is punished, beaten and spat at within the group, defamed as a traitor through hours of interrogation and put under psychological pressure by the group

There were also reports from Camp Ashraf (Iraq):

Children were lured from Germany to Iraq with the promise of finally being reunited with their parents/siblings
Their cell phones and passports were taken away from them
Contact with their parents was abused to manipulate them: Children never got to see their parents unless it was to put pressure on them to be compliant
Minors underwent military training in Camp Ashraf
The alleged martyrdom of the parents was used to convince the children to fight to avenge their parents
All were threatened that if they tried to leave the MEK, they would end up in Saddam Hussein’s dreaded torture prisons
There are reports that dropouts ended up there or were tortured by the MEK itself


From 2002 to 2009, the MEK was listed as a terrorist organization in the EU, and from 1997 to 2012 in the USA. Due to extensive lobbying, payments to politicians and whitewashing their crimes, the MEK managed to be delisted.

In 2002, the MEK presented evidence at a press conference in Washington that revealed the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. This information had previously been leaked to them by Israeli Intelligence. To the detriment of all MEK victims, this conference helped the organization to gain an increased international reputation, from which they still benefit today.

In 2003, 150 MEK supporters were arrested in France, including Maryam Rajavi. Among other things, nine million US-dollars in cash and evidence of 100 different accounts in France were confiscated during the raid. Many MEK supporters set themselves on fire because of the arrest.


In 2021, the German newspaper DIE ZEIT reported on the MEK headquarters in the middle of Berlin. There, 50-100 people were isolated from the outside world for years. The report describes the control and brainwashing of the members as well as the compulsion to expose sexual thoughts to the group every day. The same methods have been described independently by former members worldwide.

The MEK-members are like prisoners with no contact to the outside world. They are abused as cheap labor. Their working days run from morning to night, six to seven days a week. For this, they receive „salaries“ of 50-100 EURO per month. The reports from ex-residents show how MEK lobbying works within (German) politics:

First, the MEK does focus on one person, for example on the (former) Bundestag president Rita Süssmuth. Most of the time and gifts are invested in this first figure with the aim of building a relationship. Once you have finally won over a high-ranking person for the interests of the MEK, it is easier to use them to recruit other politicians. Most of the time, other politicians trust that their colleagues already know which organization they support. Sometimes, the MEK invites politicians to their events without even mentioning MEK as the organizer behind it.

A similar approach is used for fundraising campaigns. Especially at Christmas time, people take to the streets of Berlin with posters of suffering Iranian people or political prisoners in danger of imminent executions. The donations are collected for bogus companies, which then bear names such as „Human Rights Center for Exiles, for Migrants, Relief Organization for Human Rights in Iran, Association for People and Freedom, Hope for the Future“. Nobody is aware that they are donating to the Mujahideen. These donations are in turn used to finance political campaigns.

In addition to maintaining political ties and an online presence, one of the tasks of the members is to recruit actors from all over Europe for MEK events and demonstrations. Via the social media platform Facebook, for example, trips to Paris including overnight stays are offered for just 20 EURO per person – if people attend a MEK conferences for an afternoon. This way, MEK pretends to have more supporters then they actually do have.


Luisa Hommerich, investigative journalist at DIE ZEIT, spent a year researching her article on the children from Cologne. The team was able to prove that the MEK used refugee flows in the 1980s to separate hundreds of children from their families in Iraq or Iran and took them abroad. Many of these children were kept in an orphanage in Cologne for years and from there (at least) 40 children were abducted to the Iraqi headquarters (Camp Ashraf). During the war, these children were forced to fight as soldiers on the Iraqi side against the Iranian troops.

Luisa Hommerich was awarded the „Der lange Atem“ (the long breath, meaning being persistent and patient) journalism prize for her research. In November 2021, the MEK filed a lawsuit against DIE ZEIT’s article – but without success. In January 2023, the Hamburg Court ruled that the original version of the article may continue to be published.


Unfortunately, many politicians worldwide support – most of them knowingly – the MEK. In Germany, a lot of them were or are members of the conservative party CDU (e.g. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Rita Süssmuth, Christoph DeVries, Franz-Joseph Jung, Stephanie Bung). Prominent US-politicians who support Maryam Rajavi are Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence. The MEK has been officially invited to speak at the EU-parliament, presented as a legitimate part of the Iranian opposition against the Islamic Republic inside Iran. Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan, while protesting the crimes of the regime at the United Nations, did attend a MEK-demonstration outside the building.

To strengthen their position, the MEK has recently increased collaborating with armed separatist groups from the kurdish region of Iran (Komala and KDPI). These groups – who pretend to be fighting for the rights of the kurdish people – seem to have forgotten who gave the orders of killing them in the thousands back in the 80ies.



The MEK has been fighting to seize power in Iran for over 57 years now. It comes as no surprise that they are abusing any uprising inside Iran to intensify their lobbying efforts in Europe, Canada and the USA. Western politicians, in turn, are playing along with the MEK’s propaganda game: Out of ignorance, personal financial interest and/or because they hope that the MEK – should a regime change occur – will be an easy-to-manipulate negotiating partner in the future.

However, all MEK supporters have done this calculation without the Iranian population. The Iranian people remember the organization’s decades of crimes all too well and will never voluntarily elect its representatives to a government position. Whether the MEK supporters will take up arms again in a power vacuum to finally achieve their goal after more than half a century – that is the question that remains open for now.

Iran Independent –   by Mariam Paiiziran

Related posts

Stockholm| Increased security to show Children of Camp Ashraf documentary

Trial of 104 leaders of the MEK | 10 sessions held.

Get to know an MEK torturer