Is France the next option for MKO to settle after Iraq?

 The serious challenge MKO is facing at the present is the next soil to encamp after expulsion from Iraq with respect to the fact that Camp Ashraf is uphold as its most vital ideological reservation. So significant a site to preserve the organization, and since the Iraqi government is determined to expel the group and close up the camp, dismantlement of Camp Ashraf drives MKO into much critical situation beyond what it is suffering at the present. Its barren efforts to be removed from the lists of the proscribed organizations have made it much difficult to convince any country to accede to the group’s flow of refugees. The uncertainty, presupposes two possibilities; the whole and entire relocation of Camp Ashraf to another territory in the region, Latin America and even Africa or individual transfer under the auspices of the international bodies like UNHCR, ICRC, or other concerned humanitarian organizations.

But, MKO never consents to be dispossessed of its organizational identity and individual transfer of the members but the option of the wholesale relocation. Many assume that since some key ranking figures, including the leading cadre and its president-elect, are already situated in France and the organization is engaged in an extensive campaign aimed at winning support from among the politicians there, then, France might be the next appropriate option. However, there are evidences that corroborate unfeasibility of such a formed theory some of which are mentioned below:

 

1- The organization is not acquitted of its allegations of June 17 and French judicial system is still making inquiry about its file.

 

2- There are countless indications of alleged civil disturbances and violations against citizens and refugees, like the incident in which agents of MKO assaulted an association of Iranians in Paris and wounded 13, that makes French police and authorities to be seriously concerned about the hostile nature of the organization.

 

3- Organizationally instigated cult-like operations like the June 17 self-immolations with two deaths have been serious warning for repetition of similar acts; two members recently went on trial before a French court for allegedly helping a third member burn herself to death.

 

4- There are also corroborated evidences that led to the expulsion of Rajavi and his gang from France in 1985 that led to his alliance with Saddam and its flight to Iraq.

 

5- There exists a widespread public panic regarding MKO’s cult-like makeup and its potential threats against the French citizen.

 

From the very first days of the group’s refuge in France, strict measures were taken by French authorities to have it under surveillance. However, on occasions it found opportunities to engage in illegal activities and violation of regulations concerning refugees’ status. Although the leaders had already agreed not to engage in any form of political activities in France, its clandestine activities were juxtaposed to a snake’s progress:

 

 

Paris had required that the Iranian refugee leaders sign a written statement, containing the routine text promising to avoid all political activity on French soil. This would be respected for exactly two weeks. [1]

Following the coalition forces attack against Iraq and fall of Saddam, MKO started to move the headquarters to France again. According to the French intelligence services, the Mojahedin’s aim was to move their “world operational centre” – previously based in Baghdad – to the Val d’Oise. The head of France’s Direction for the Surveillance of the Territory (DST), Pierre de Bousquet confirmed the danger posed by the group beyond that of a campaigning political group:

The People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) has, for a long time, been going over to a terrorist logic. Despite the organisation’s rhetoric, which claims only to be fighting against a regime, it should be noted that their attacks have usually struck many civilian victims. As to the claims of the PMOI that it wants to bring democracy to Iran, this must be understood within the paradigm of the movement’s extraordinary autocracy, where a radical cult of personality is enforced. Its members must be blindly devoted to Massoud Rajavi and his wife. The slightest criticism is severely punished. The PMOI can be considered as having followed a sectarian detour which is obvious in the fanatical behaviour of it militants: the dramatic immolations of recent days show the sad truth about them. [2]

Based on confidential reports that proved the organization was engaged in terrorist and clandestine activities, produced two weeks before 17 June 2003, DST undertook a major operation against the group under the code named “Theo”. Following the operation, the Figaro could obtain and publish what was believed to be the first-hand information on MKO and was enough to spread panic among the nation:

The PMOI has carried out a number of activities on French soil that are clandestine, sectarian, delinquent, and even seriously criminal. In France, tile organisation has two or three hundred militants and sympathisers. Its ‘hard nucleus’ is made up of a few dozen militants. [3]

Even before relocation of its headquarters from Iraq to France, the organization had started expansion of its residence sites in France as a preparation to establish a second base similar to Ashraf. A report by DST asserts that:

The construction company, Algeco, was called in by the Mojahedin to add bungalows in their camp on rue Gordes. Several hundreds of square meters of housing space have been rented by the organisation in the Val d’Oise in its reorganisation on French soil”. [4]

Accordingly, the wholesome transfer of Camp Ashraf to France seems to be out of question. In respect to Germany, MKO’s situation there is not better than in France. Its trespass of law as well as financial scandals in Germany has sounded the alarm for the authorities there to keep a watchful eye on the organization’s activities. Exploitation of members’ children, after separating them from the parents forcefully, for illegal fund-raising activities was among its most noted outrageous and immoral actions there. Referring to uncovered scandals of MKO by German authorities, Anne Singleton has said:

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. [5]

Of course, MKO’s situation in other European countries is just the same. Its proscription as a terrorist group in England makes it even worse and erects impassable barrier since England, as a member of European Union, has adopted strict rules against terrorist threats under its enacted Terrorism Act. Besides, any asylum granted to MKO by the European countries raises suspicions on their claim of their engage in war against terrorism. Then, will the US welcome the opposition that might be exploited against Iran? Let’s discuss it.  References: [1]. Antoine Gessler; Autopsy of an Ideological Drift, Translated by Thomas R. Forstenzer, 2004, p. 103.

[2]. Ibid, 93

[3]. Ibid, 95

[4]. Ibid, 100

[5]. Anne Singleton; Saddam’s Private Army, Iran-Interlink, 2003.

 Bahar Irani,December 31, 2007

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