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Rajavi’s ideological purges

Besides approaches applied by Rajavi to purge qualified, old veterans while in Pahlavi’s jails, he devised whatever plots afterward to exclude the remnants of MKO’s early central cadre and intimates of Hanifnejad. Soon after the victory of Iranian revolution, they criticized Rajavi for his egotistic, ambitious, and totalitarian ideals in a statement issued in an Iranian newspaper, Keyhan. Instead of giving a convincing answer to the criticisms, Rajavi took a hostile stance and asserted that they were no longer MKO members while he had introduced them as the official representatives of the organization abroad a few weeks before. Finally, they published a book entitled “The process of separation” and therein they openly declared their separation from the organization and Rajavi. In this regard, Mohammad Mehdi Jafari states:

As far as I remember, I think in 1981, Mr. Raisi Toosi and his friends detached MKO and even wrote some articles in Keyhan paper disclosing the feats done by the organization and then published a book entitled “The process of separation”. 1

He further refers to ungenerous attitudes of Rajavi in expelling a particular group of three, as they were close comrades of Hanifnejad, from MKO:

The way organization dealt with those three and Reza in particular was very ungenerous. The organization even claimed that he has never been a fighter and that he had been studying in the Europe in years before the victory of the revolution while Reza Raisi Toosi was one of the early founders of MKO. Keyhan paper referred to this issue, too; yet it was denied by Mojahedin officially. Reza and his friends were among those who bravely stood against those members that perverted from Islam in the Europe and issued a long and detailed statement on it. 2

In this regard, Anne singleton, a European member of MKO who had contact with them in the Europe introduces Raisi as follows:

Reza Raisi was one of the close friends of Mohammad Hanif-Nezhad. He had been in close contact with the Mojahedin since its inception and had escaped from Iran when they were being attacked in the early 70s. He took up residence in London, studying a PhD. in politics. Then, about two years before the 1979 revolution, Raisi started an organisation named Committee in Support of the Mojahedin. 3

Jafari also expounds on Rajavi’s mischievous adoption of the same tactics for the removal of other early members of the organization including Meisami and Mohammad Gorgani, who were experienced veterans of the organization and would criticized Rajavi’s totalitarianism and egocentrism:

I was not in prison but I heard the news that the organization had boycotted people like the engineer Meisami and Mohammad Gorgani because they had adopted a clear position toward ideological deviation and drift to Marxism and opposed to “peaceful coexistence” of the rival sides and believed in self-criticism. But the imprisoned rankings like Massoud Rajavi and Musa Khiabani did not concurred with any criticism and moved on their own way although they bragged of observing criticisms. 4

As it was mentioned before, these mechanisms were common in all phases of Rajavi’s hegemony over the organization. Parviz Yaqoubi, one of the earliest members, as well as Saeed Shahsavandi, a member of the organization’s central cadre up to late 1985, are other victims of Rajavi’s inflexibility in his views who were expelled or Rajavi claimed their expulsion despite their voluntary separation from the organization. Anne singleton refers to Parviz Yaqoubi and writes:

Parviz Yaqoubi, a member of the former Central Committee, was in Paris and married to Ashraf Rajavi’s (nee Rabii) sister. He refused to accept the marriage and Ideological Revolution and refused also to keep quiet about his objections. He was put on trial in a court, which Rajavi concocted and headed, and was condemned. He was ‘convicted’ for not taking the side of the revolution, but rather taking the side of Khomeini. Masoud in this court on one occasion refused to accept that Yaqoubi has the normal rights of a court and said this is not a court rather it is a learning session for others to listen and take note. Of course, only selected people were present. Yaqoubi was placed under severe hardship. He was isolated, his financial support from the organisation was cut and he was evicted from his home as an example to others. 5

In fact, the ideological revolution of Rajavi can be considered the final phase of extending his political purges in MKO. Expelling Ali Zarkesh, his trial and sentencing to execution, his exile to Camp Ashraf, and plotting his death in the operation Eternal Light (Forouq-e Javidan) is another instance of Rajavi’s misusing power to eliminate all members who were much more qualified than him. Also, there are a great number of MKO members who were killed after the declaration of the ideological revolution due to their disagreement and criticism. However, their exact number is unknown but a handful of them have been mentioned in Human Rights Watch report or have been referred to by eyewitnesses.

Still much remains untold of methods applied by Rajavi to purge the dissidents as well as the parameters and factors paving the way for him to achieve his egocentric objectives which have to be investigated in depth. It is up to conscience of readers to judge if these cruel acts have been deliberately planed and put into practice or regarded as common errors of Rajavi, something far beyond reality. However, the fact is that according to many early members like Meisami, things could be different if Rajavi had assumed a peaceful mannerism, goodwill, tolerance, and sincerity.

Still there are people who believe Rajavi’s grave errors can be compensated if he will resign and let more qualified people accede to the leadership. It really requires honesty and courage, which Rajavi lacks, to sacrifice oneself for the legitimate causes of a political organization and apologize for the errors made before an authorized court regardless of personal and organizational prejudices.


1. Dr. Mohammad Mehdi Jafari’s interview with Seyed Qasem Yahosseini, MKO from inside, Negah-e Emrooz publication, 2002, p.48.

2. ibid, p.78.

3. Singleton, Anne, Saddam’s private army, Iran-Interlink, 2003.

4. Dr. Mohammad Mehdi Jafari’s interview with Seyed Qasem Yahosseini, MKO from inside, Negah-e Emrouz publication, 2002, p.84.

5. Singleton, Anne, Saddam’s private army, Iran-Interlink, 2003.  

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