There always exist among the members of a cult or political group ones that display high level of antagonism and threaten the life of the cult or occurrence of schism. Unless cults and groups take countermeasures, the schism is inevitable. Being a cult of personality and susceptible to schism especially after the coupe d’état-like internal ideological revolution, MKO, facing increasing internal challenges, concocted excuses mainly to confront dissidents that could possibly nurture schism.
Massoud Rajavi’s marriage with his commander’s wife, Maryam Azodanloo, was considered by many to be a scandal and surfaced perversion. Being an undeniable truth, the organization developed a scenario to remodel the shaped mentality. The organization came up with the plan of organizing forced sessions of analyzing members’ political, moral and personal viewpoints about Rajavi. So complicated was the scenario that soon all antagonistic attitudes towards Rajavi floated up and the members tried to outmatch each other in demonizing and disparaging Rajavi and strongly condemned him of his eccentric deed.
Unknowingly, members were condemning themselves rather than Rajavi. The sessions meant to strongly condemn members of the guilt they had done in their past life and the way they tried to justify the vices. Explaining the process, Massoud Banisadr has stated:
This time as it was told by Masoud, we had to take him to negative infinity and accuse him of any thing which we could think of, and then judge him, if we reached to the verdict that he is not guilty, then we had to make him as mirror and this time judging ourselves. Meant accusing ourselves for the same crimes, which we accused him of. Following that we had to find our class tendencies. And our true nature, hidden under nice and gentle behaviour of ours. 1
Oddly enough, the process soon turned into a criterion to decide about qualified members for organizational promotions. The technique of eliciting confessions was practiced in collective gatherings and the members were forced to admit to their antagonistic and contradictory outlook not only about the leadership but also about other organizational issues; they had to ‘vomit their thoughts’ as the organization called it.
The sessions were somehow as if the members were on trial. The members’ confessions were enough to accuse them to demand Rajavi’s forgiveness. Feeling ashamed of accusing Rajavi, they would compose piles of recantation letters and urging Rajavi to forgive them. Ludicrous as it may seem, in many of these letters, members confessed to have been ignorant of Rajavi’s infallibility all the time. But the outcome of these trial-like sessions was critically serious:
In these hearing sessions the defendants had no advocate and besides, it was not so appropriate an atmosphere to provoke any protest; they held heads down and others spat at them. But what requires further consideration is that so the Falangist element and cult characteristics had bulged in the course of these years that a sister volunteered to kill her sister. 2
The interesting point is that such a process came to be justified under the philosophy of the ideological revolution. The dissenters and whoever repulsed the revolution had to pay a price. It was even much unbearable for a high ranking member:
High ranking members who couldn’t have the revolution, were not allowed to leave the organisation so in some cases they had no alternative except killing themselves. While they were living among us, they were forbidden to do anything, even helping in the kitchen was denied to them. 3
And some committed suicide because they could not tolerate the so-called revolution that ended to disgrace for all the organization:
Nasser, one of our army commanders, has killed himself with a blade given to him for shaving. … Later in another meeting, I heard from Rajavi that Eshagh, who was working with me in New York, has gone to hunger strike because his revolution has not been accepted. Few years later, after I left the organisation, I heard he hanged himself about the same time, but we were not told then, so I presume there were some more suicides which we didn’t hear about them. 4
Thus, a technique mainly developed to trace dissidents and disloyal to revolution turned into a lasting achievement with a multi-purpose function. Mojahedin’s irreparable loss after the military operation Eternal Light needed scapegoats to justify Rajavi’s insanity of masterminding such a mass suicide. Again the members were forced to confess that lack of total trust in Rajavi and their attachments to worldly attractions was a reason not to stand by their commitment to him. They had to devote themselves only to Rajavi and nothing else had to enter their hearts but his love. As Mohsen Rezai, a ranking cadre is quoted saying:
To follow him [Rajavi] ideologically, and not only politically, you have to see him and accept him not only in your mind, but in your heart. And you cannot do it unless you first open your heart to him. You should have no secret from him, no boundary should separate you from him. He should be the one and only, the closest person to you. To reach this close relationship, you have to work hard, beginning with the expression of all your contradictions and secrets, especially those concerning him. 5
So, a process formulated to detect and hamper attempts for schism and to accomplish a throughout internal purge becomes an integral part of a cult that practices deceptions, lies and exhibits murder in its heart under the disguise of a pro-democratic organization.
1. Masoud Banisadr; Memoirs of an Iranian Rebel.
2. Shams-e Haeri, Hadi; The swamp, vol. II.
3. Masoud Banisadr; Memoirs of an Iranian Rebel.