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Ashraf – when is a city not a city?

Apparently we – the ‘rest of the world’, that is – are not ‘allowed’ to refer to Camp Ashraf as anything other than Ashraf City. Says who? Says Massoud Rajavi, leader-in-hiding of the Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq organisation (MKO, MEK, aka Rajavi cult). Why?

Well, the MKO’s military camp is now under the control of the Iraqi government. American forces handed it over this week. In spite of a deeply insulting scaremongering campaign by the MKO, which claimed that the Iraqis would stage a ‘Srebrenica-style massacre’ if they got their (dirty, barbaric) hands on the MKO, the handover to Iraqi military personnel has gone ahead, as planned, without incident. The Iraqi government will now work with MNF and international agencies to find a satisfactory solution to the illegal presence of foreign terrorists in its territory.

The MKO response to the inevitable loss of its main base for ideological indoctrination has been interesting. Aside from the ‘massacre’ tactic, the group has also gone all out for an ostrich-like pretence that it is not really a uniformed military group and that the people in Camp Ashraf – sorry, ‘Ashraf City’ – are just like ordinary citizens living in a small, thriving town.

Last week, Iranians were amused to watch Voice of America television when it gave air time to MKO spokesman Alireza Jafarzadeh. In the programme Jafarzadeh extolled in glowing terms the great achievement of the MKO in creating this wonderful “city” and described the facilities ‘enjoyed’ by the MKO there.

Without contradicting his words, let us have a little glimpse at this ‘city’ and compare it with our own towns and cities, the places we all live and work and send our kids to school.


has an extensive cemetery but no maternity hospital

has huge, well-equipped salons for mass meetings but no arrangements to register or celebrate marriages or births

has (gender segregated) swimming pools but no nurseries, primary schools or high schools and no playgrounds

has prisons but no court of law

has strictly enforced regulations (including compulsory hijab) but no council elections

has gas stations (segregated, with different opening times for men and women) but no place to drive

residents work up to 18 hours a day but there is no bank because they don’t get paid – unpaid workers need no shops – they have no money to buy anything

residents only wear military uniforms – so there are no shops to buy pretty dresses and make-up, or smart suits or casuals

has air-conditioned, gender segregated accommodation but no hotels for visitors from out of town to visit their families

has no internet cafes, no newspaper deliveries, no radio or television sets for individual use, no satellite channels to choose from

has no public telephones and no mobile phones

Is anyone allowed to keep a pet?

Does this sound like the town you live in, or would want to live in?


So when is a city not a city? When it’s a cult’s military and ideological headquarters of course.

Over forty people who have escaped from Camp Ashraf have arrived in Europe in the past few weeks. They are happy to talk about current conditions inside the MKO. Please contact Iran-Interlink for further details.

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