Ms. Batoul Soltani former member of the leadership Council of People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI, MKO, MEK) was released after two decades of being captive in the cult of Rajavi …during those years she lost her kids and her warm family center. The life of Ms. Batoul Soltani is mostly like a tragic drama that seems like an incredible fate. She is now stepping in a way to rejoin her missing husband and children.
To Be A Mujahed
I am Batoul Soltani. I was born in 1965 in Isfahan where I graduated from high school. I was accepted for the university but I didn’t go there and instead I married a man who had just been released from the prison.
In 1986 we got married and then one of my husband’s friends, who had joined the organization, introduced him to MKO. He had told them that we are opposed to the Islamic Republic. So the MKO’s men came to Isfahan to look for us.
My husband told me about leaving Iran. I had some social problems so I was ready to leave Iran. I said:”It is so good. We will leave Iran to look for our happiness and life.” The same year when I was pregnant (about eight months after our marriage) we left Iran through Iran-Pakistan border by the help of a smuggler who worked for MKO.
We were on the way for a few days. I remember the difficulties I had on the way. When we arrived in Pakistan, I told my husband that I wanted to continue my studies and have a free life. We asked the UNHCR for the refugee card. Due to my physical status, pregnancy, they soon granted refugee to us. I gave birth to my first kid in Pakistan.
Later MKO came to my husband. He insisted on going to Iraq and I disagreed but my husband said:”It is very good to live in Iraq. They have a very good situation there. We will have a comfortable life. If we don’t want to live there, we can go to a European country.”
But from the other side the MKO’s representative said:
” everyone cannot step in this way. It is so hard. “
But my husband said:
”No, it’s not like that. They say these words to everyone who wants to join MKO, but it is not actually as what he says. They have a very relaxing life. They want to know how loyal the members are and such things.”
He said these things to convince me to be satisfied and tolerate any difficulty.
Therefore, in 1987 we came to Iraq with our two-month old baby. They received us in the best hotels of Baghdad and settled us in a 5-starred hotel. After a period of residence in the hotel they told me that I can leave my kid to the nursery and work in their school. I remember that they took our passport and refugee card when we arrived at the airport and we couldn’t understand that they were blocking all the way back.
When I got their base, I left my baby to the nursery and started working as a teacher in their school. We were practically gotten involved in the organization’s relations.
The process continued until they told us that they wanted to send the children to Europe. This was a plan after the Gulf War. They used the opportunity and said:
”We are not able to keep children here anymore and we must send them to Europe. “
They held indoctrination meetings and various factors convinced us to send the children to Europe. I talked with my husband. He said:
”we have no way out of Organization’s relations and no appropriate facilities and means to live our life in Iraq without MKO. We cannot return Iran because we will be arrested and executed there. Besides we have no money and the organization keeps our documents.”
"Verdana","sans-serif"; mso-themecolor: text1″>Actually he was gotten stuck within the Organization’s relations so he wanted to continue as before.”
So he convinced me to let our children go for their own sake in the hope that they will be lucky and happy there and we will be loyal to each other here and soon we will also go abroad. Or we will go to Iran after victory. He seriously emphasized that the regime of Iran would overthrow in 6 or 7 months and we would go to Iran.
After that I remember that I was so sad and I missed my children. I cried under the blanket at nights because we shouldn’t show our emotions. If they found out that I had missed my children, they would punish me. They said:
” what’s wrong with you? You are a revolutionary avant-garde. You are here to liberate your country.”
So I tried to hide my feelings. Then the promotions began in the organization. They held special programs to allegedly liberate the women in revolutionary phases, heightening the scene of responsibility of the weakened women.
Thus every day I was promoted in my ranks and duties. After the departure of my children, I received military trainings and soon, in 1993, I was the commandant of a unit.
In 1991, the mandatory divorces were ordered. They said:
”Anyone who wants to stay and continue the way must divorce from her husband. “
Therefore in an artificial atmosphere, anyone wanted to take off her ring and declared her divorce to show that she is superior and more liberated.
This was Masud and Maryam’s plan to separate the spouses. [..]
After the divorces, the control was heightened to keep the men and women away from each other. If even the members thought about their spouses or asked any question about them, they would be punished seriously.
Later the group forced the men to give their hegemony following giving their wives to the organization and under the revolutionary titles they handed their duties to the women gradually.
I remember that I was the commandant of a unit with 11 tanks, each one with 3 service-men. It was a big responsibility and I had no free time. I could relax only two hours a day. Then I received computer training for 4 years after I went to Britain with a false passport. At the time the systems of the computers in MKO was Appel and the group wanted to promote them to PC so I was chosen for some new trainings.
During the war I learned the site systems and designed websites. I only for a short time worked in the recruitment section to recruit new forces. In 2007, I was promoted to the Leadership Council.
I attended the meetings of the Leadership Council which were held once a week. We held several meetings when Masud and Maryam were in Iraq and later, as the layer of the leadership council we had the meetings every day.
In 2006,I was the subject of the meetings for a long time. They asked me why I’m not relaxed. Why I’m depressed or thoughtful. They constantly put me under questions until I got several phone calls from Masud Rajavi.
I‘m a woman escaped from MKO camp
In his phone calls, Masud Rajavi tried to know why I was upset by making jokes and having fun. He wanted to know what my problem was. I didn’t tell him what my problem was. I was very sad. I had many questions on the organization. I felt that I have lost all my life, wasting my lifetime for looking for nothing. I even saw that the organization didn’t obey its own principles. For example, at that time, we claimed to be anti-Imperialism so much, but I saw how they spread red carpet for the Americans in Camp Ashraf welcoming them warmly. They named the cooperation with Americans as the struggle with the main enemy which is Islamic Republic, saying that
“It doesn’t matter to negotiate with the US to fight the main enemy.”
Sometimes, I asked them:
” why do you make the youth miserable by bringing them to the organization? Why haven’t we overthrown the regime yet after two decades? Or why are we struggling at all?”
However I was stuck in vain, this was not a factor to make me escape or leave the organization until the day I was working on the computer and I entered the private network of Mozhgan Parsaie. In fact I was supposed to fix their network. In one of their rooms, I entered Mozhgan Parsaie’s network where she had prepared a report which was supposed to be sent to Maryam Rajavi. I read the report and I saw what she had written about me. I got shocked extremely wondering what the reason of all respects they had for me was and what this report is. I felt they are so hypocrite and the word hypocrite really deserves them. They had back-bitted about me writing anything they could write about me although I was a member of Leadership Council. For instance they had written that I have moral problems or I have problems with children etc…. they had stated that my situation was so crucial. So I got very upset since they had wasted my life. I was looking for a way to carry out my decision and soon I was able to pack my bag and escape from the camp. We were seriously controlled.
We couldn’t walk around the camp alone. The low-ranking members were told:
“You may be arrested or kidnapped by the others who traffic the camp.”
The members do not trust anybody. They are always monitoring each other. I was in the Leadership Council, so I know that they falsely say that
“We do not allow the women to walk alone due to lack of security in the camp.“
In fact they want to cover the reality of their jobs.
The women were controlled in a particular way, so strictly, that Rajavi had soon sworn that
“We have no female defector”,
The control over the women members were more sever because he wanted to prove his claim.
Since I couldn’t get out alone, I planned a way to escape. At the sunset time, I put a back bag on the front seat of my jeep and I put a cap and a scarf on the pack bag to make the figure of a woman. Therefore I could pass the control station. I told them that my colleague is taking a nap on the front seat. So I could get out until I reached the street around the camp where I parked the car and walked out of the prison I had spent so many years of my life: Two decades of my life, from the moment I was recruited by the cult until the time I could run away by a complex plan. When I was escaping from the camp, I didn’t intend to go to TIPF (the American camp). I had some tools such as a wire cutter to cut the barbed wires and walk out of the camp. I knew that there are some hungry dogs wondering around the camp. I brought some food to give them in case of the risk of their attack. When I entered the deserts around the camp and I was walking towards the cast, I encountered the dogs. So I gave the food and water to them. They became my friends and escorted me.
But when I got to the barbed wires I found out that I had lost my wire cutter when I was trying to feed the dogs. So I changed my plan and decided to go to American camp. I came towards the American camp and tried to draw the soldiers’ attention to myself, but they couldn’t hear me because they were listening to music by their headsets. I tried to shout, using my English. I told them that
“I am a woman who escaped from MKO camp and I don’t want the organization learns about me.”
Finally I could get in the camp of American forces.
In the camp, MKO tried to contact me, in many ways. They sent me letters, messages,.. They even called me on the cell phones which were held secretly in the American camp. They wanted me to get back to Ashraf promising me to do anything I want such as going to Europe or giving financial aids. Then they launched a large attempt to attract me by my children. They knew that I was looking for my children. They particularly wanted to bring my daughter to camp Ashraf so as I would get back. They even had her supervisor, in Europe, call me so that they can control me out of Camp Ashraf and even abroad. But I never let them get close to me. They had taken my daughter as a hostage; she wasn’t allowed to call me. She was told a lot of nonsense about me. They had even told her to have an interview against me but she hadn’t accepted because she was busy with her studies and her personal life.
I stayed in TIPF for a period of time. Americans suggested working for them. I did their computer works about storage of their goods listing them in the computer and I was paid 2.5 dollars an hour.
Meanwhile I had some contacts with my family. I was sometimes afraid of my future life. I was afraid of making mistake. I didn’t know what was waiting for me. Sometimes I got disappointed. The organization was also trying hard to have me back with promises of money or a free life in Europe but I was sure that I would have no way out with MKO except that same isolated cult.
We had many difficulties in TIPF. The Americans didn’t help us; instead they aided the organization to become more stable, for example they recognized Mozjgan Parsaie but not the separated members of the cult. The organization used the opportunity and expanded its control and hegemony over the members more and more. The pressure of the meetings was increased.
In the meetings, about 300 people were shouting at an individual asking him or her:
” what is in your mind? Why do you want to leave the camp? Why do you think about your children or husband?”
When I just remember these memories, I get terrified. So I didn’t think about any of their suggestions. In my contacts with my family, they couldn’t help me so much they wanted to help me in their own way offering their emotions and sympathy.
Behind the smiles of the captives in Ashraf
Out of Ashraf, there was another world. I found the opportunity to meet my family who had come to Iraq. It was so bizarre. The family is a spiritual gift: mother, father, brothers and sisters who are full of emotions and feelings. I realized how badly I had behaved to them, how much they had suffered because of me. I found out that my father had died due to a heart attack, and my mother had suffered a lot of grieves. So I had much motive to help the other families because I have seen that the organization is still capturing the youth of our country by various methods even deception and abuse of emotional relationships. If anyone wants to leave the group, they ruin his future so as he will have no future out of the group, forcing him to stay in the organization for his whole life.
After the defection, I could have had a normal life but I had enough motivation to stay in Iraq to help my ex-friends and those who are likely to be captured by MKO; the ones who are like me and who do not know what is waiting for them in the cult despite their deceitful smile and green lights. I know what is behind the smiles of the captives in Ashraf. They are very tired but they are afraid of complaining because they would be marked. They have no idea what to do. Even those members, who could leave MKO, have their own problems because the organization has functioned so violently that no one accepts the defectors either.
I learned about a foundation called Sahar, I contacted them and I was willing to help them. Then I became a member of Sahar Family Foundation and now I am a spokeswoman of that. My activities included a trip to Turkey to contact some of the defectors who had legal and financial problems there, we had some jobs and interviews there, with Mr. Masud Khodabandeh who is the founder of SFF.
We are trying to pave the way for MKO defectors to be able to live a normal life in a free society. Mr. Khodabandeh and I also had a trip to Karkul,Irbil,Soleimanieh and Dahouk, and we visited various defectors in these cities. I had recently a trip to the North of Iraq to help those ex-comrades. I could have some meetings with the deputies of Kurdish parties and some journals and international communities to provide the conditions to aid the defectors of MKO. I met and talked to many of them, I got acquainted with their life, problems and grieves. Now I am doing my best to aid SFF in order to help the defectors of MEK.
I had to help my husband; it was my responsibility to save him. I know what happened to him finally and what his motive at the beginning was. I asked his family for help inviting them to Iraq. They came to Iraq after some time, we went to camp Ashraf. I will explain the way the organization treated us in detailed in another part. The scenario they had designed was so significant that needs to be discussed carefully in a separate program.
My activities are partly based on my human feelings. I know my children are hostages in MKO where they are manipulated. I got to know that my daughter Setareh has been forced to come to Iraq. I know she didn’t want to come to Iraq at all.
They were so eager to bring Setare to Iraq before I leaved TIPF or Iraq. Unfortunately I got into some troubles and I couldn’t get in touch with my daughter. Later I figured out that they had convinced her to come to Iraq to visit her father. They brought her to Iraq last March and told her to stay there. She was told:”your mother has psychological problems and she wants to take you to Iran.” She was also told other lies to keep her in the camp as long as they can and of-course to manipulate her more and more. The first step has been the interviews against me but my daughter has resisted and hasn’t done it. But they have terrified her so terribly that she doesn’t answer my phone calls turning off her cell phone. Then she was taken to Ashraf to visit her father who has treated her so unkindly- He has not been in a normal condition- Then she was taken to their indoctrination system. They have manipulated her so seriously that she is completely mixed up now; she is in Netherland where my son is living. She was taken there to work on her brother, Miaad who is totally confused now.
Miaad says:” How is it possible? I am sixteen now, and I haven’t had any idea that I have a sister, mother or father. I don’t know what’s happened that now I have a father and I am repeatedly invited to go to Iraq to visit him or now I have founded my sister after years, in another European country.”
"Verdana","sans-serif"; >I mean the organization had never told them that they have a brother or a sister. But now that their benefits require controlling them against me, they have brought my daughter to influence her brother. My son chatted with me on internet regularly but now has given it up and doesn’t answer his cell phone or telephone. They are doing all these things to exhaust me. They want me to keep quiet and not to aid the other defectors. I try to tell the realities, the truth to my children but it’s up to them to choose where they like to live. At least I should denounce what the organization is indoctrinating to them.
"Verdana","sans-serif"; >One of my tasks is to go to a European country to pursue the case legally to be able to visit my children after 16 years. My son was 6 months old when the organization separated him from me. I haven’t seen them for 16 years. I missed them a lot. I’d really love to see them but what shall I do that the terrorist cult of Rajavi commits any crime against the defectors.
Unsaid stories on a castle called Ashraf
I was actually in the MEK for two decades so I know about the MEK’s internal relations very well. When in 1986 I entered the organization, the most convenient houses and hotel were dedicated to the families. It was the time when Masud and Maryam Rajavi came to Iraq from France. The MEK had used all its strength to recruit members and all IRI opponents from all over the world. There was a tension among supporters in abroad. Rajavi was using his entire wisdom to get the supporters out of their normal life and bring them to the organization and of-course the prison of Ashraf. They used any practice to bring the people to the cult in Iraq. For example they managed to send smugglers, financing them, to take the people out of their families and bring them to Iraq.
The other activity they were also busy of, was to found National Liberation Army and the deals with Iraqi Regime like the meetings with Iraqi ministries or deputies and then with Saddam Hussein who offered them bases, weapons, military trainings. The focus was on recruiting members for the so called NLA. At that time the Iraqi military organs were launching intelligence operations together with the MEK elements to succeed their attacks against Iran. The MEK was taking care of such affairs. Everyday there was a new crisis, a new adventure. So the supporters were busy enough.
After some time they spoke of NLA and military uniform and boots and things like that. Later in 1989 the second phase of Ideological Revolution (after the first phase which was operated in 1985 when the couples were forced to divorce.) was started by MEK that claimed that the first phase was not completed and the divorces should be perfect for ever; this time the divorces should be real and there is no return and anyone who wants to enter the organization must divorce. Since that time divorce became a condition for membership in the MKO.
They named this revolution as “whirl-wind” in which they filtered the devotees from the opponents. Several meetings were arranged by Masud and Maryam Rajavi who brought members group by group there; where they set the situation so artificially that the members became obliged to take out their wedding rings and divorce their spouses. I was in the last group of MKO members who divorced.
They held the meeting for a group of members. From the beginning moments the members were so worried of being called, then they called a person who went to deliver all his responsibilities… then we saw Maryam and Masud cheering made an atmosphere and asked the person:” Ok, now what must you give?” Or “what have you hidden?” they pressured the member mentally and at the end he was prepared for divorce. The person had to write and sign the feature of his dependence on his spouse, his problems and thoughts. Then he had continual meetings so as he can ideologically divorce the marriage in his mind. Thus the leaders could have a better control on the members’ emotions and feelings. The next step was to cut the remaining emotional point: children.
I remember they used the opportunity of war in 1991 and said: “Due to the war, we can not keep the kids here”, so they arranged another chantage and separated the children from their families. That was a treacherous plan that was executed. They even said themselves:” That’s a good pretext to get rid of children.”
The evil Masud had calculated everything; he knew that the presence of children would take a lot of energy. Now they had members who were completely and professionally at Masud‘s service. They sent the children to places, they know themselves, and for example they sent my son to a country and my daughter to another one and I had no idea of where they were.
I couldn’t ask, in any case, where my kids are. They would punish me using their manipulation techniques …
Then, they determined a criterion which was ‘’Maryam ‘’who divorced from her husband for Masud’s sake, married him ideologically and her whole existence has become Masud! In a new scenario, she came said:” I leave all my organizational duties” and Masud said the same thing and introduced Maryam as the first authority of the organization because she was the only one who was joined to Masud and all the others had to be dissolved in and dedicated to Maryam, if not they were called anti-woman, non-revolutionary … this was their new story to seize the members soles and minds.
The bottom line of the story is that Masud is only the ideological leader. If you want to analyze the MEK, you should work one two dimensions; one: the strategic and military dimension and two: the ideological and organizational dimension. The strategic aspect included the departure from France and arrival to Iraq to from NLA. The ideological aspect began with the ideological revolution in 1984. Following the defeat in the “Eternal Light” operation, they concluded that the failure happened because the ideological revolution hasn’t performed perfectly so the fighters haven’t fought well. The discussions on the ideological revolution ended with the divorces saying that the emotions are illegal.
After Maryam Rajavi became the first authority of MEK, Masud left all his organizational responsibilities. They wanted to open their way to European countries, so they established “Presidential Offices” in European countries. A new series of stories began with the name of “President Elect” ( Maryam Rajavi),calling for opposition groups to come under MEK’s hegemony and form National Council of Resistance to abuse them.
Then they continued with equipping their NLA by Saddam Hussein’s aid. Rajavi always was proud of the gifts granted to him by Saddam Hussein. For any operation they launched inside Iran, Saddam praised them with his offered weapons and tanks.
Mujahedin’s Machiavellian approach towards the US administration today and the US administration of 1970s
When the US government was fighting with Saddam Hussein the MKO planned its strategy on sending Maryam Rajavi and a few hundreds of the group’s officials to Europe in order to guarantee the future of the organization in the West and the group could be directed by Maryam and her aides. Therefore when the war started, Maryam was residing in Europe and Masud Rajavi was apparently out of sight and the control of Camp Ashraf was granted to Mozhgan Parsaiee. In 2003, after the fall of Saddam, I remember the day the American forces surrounded the camp and they shot at the camp on some occasions.
When the American forces came, we were shocked to notice that the Organization called all the members and sent the women to the gates of the camp to welcome the American soldiers who were surprised wondering what was the MKO up to?
Suddenly the organization changed its strategy and sat at the negotiation table with the US officers. The US general who had come to seize Ashraf, ordered to cease-fire to the American tanks and helicopters, he called his high officials and then the warfare scene turned into the negotiation table. The MKO used its tricks to function the hegemony on the members. Then Mozhgan came happily and said:”we won”. The leadership council had told them that “the MKO’s rank and files are like Indians and they didn’t shoot a bullet when the Americans were bombing their camps.”
We pretended to have enough control on our members and the Americans accepted saying that:”Ok, you deal with your own forces and we deal with you.”
Therefore the leadership council could maintain its control on the camp and then Masud sent a message saying “Ashraf is our strategic location.”
The forces considered the message as serious saying that if Ashraf resists the world will resist. Then they launched a new process to use Ashraf as an instrument that they claimed to be the centre and heart of MKO in order to gain more and more supports in Europe and also to maintain Ashraf as their headquarters. Since then they have spent large amounts of money to receive the Iraqi tribal leaders who had financial problems. I swear to God that some of them who came to Ashraf base were only promised a lunch in Ashraf; MKO abused them politically as much as they could.
The situation in Iraq is not secure nowadays. There are financial problems; the youth are out of job, so the MKO has misused the opportunity recruiting the Iraqi youth, training them as its mercenary forces. The organization is exploiting the post war, critical situation of Iraqi Society. I remember they bought a gold necklace for a doctor to recruit her so as they can enter the Iraqi society and use their maximum exploitation from the Iraqi community. This was the status which was created after the fall of Saddam. Now the members who reside in Camp Ashraf are just like babies who are in their mothers’ womb and have no idea of the outside world to which they have no contact. They listen to no news except that of the Resistance TV or Freedom TV [MKO channels].
In order to respond the allegations on the lack of MKO members’ access to the news, the organization used a funny trick; they filtered some news of Aljazeera and CNN and recorded to show in MKO’s eating places. In fact, Ashraf residents listen to no news expect to those filtered by the group. It’s definitely forbidden to have a compact radio otherwise you would be interrogated in so many meetings. The members’ minds are blocked by a pretext: security. But they panic their own functions.
Now, imagine that these members find a possibility to open their eyes to the outside world. They find out that their Master who has always disgusted the Imperialism and even after the explosion of the Twin Towers on September 11th cheered saying “this was the reactionary Islam, Now lets see what the revolutionary Islam will do?! You have a lot of potential inside you and you should release it” now is negotiating with the Americans. But for how long can they tell their lies to deceive people?
I remember when a member had committed suicide, I heard myself that Masud Rajavi said: "in case of any attack against us, we will go towards Iranian borders.” The question is that: why didn’t we go towards the borders after the invasion of Americans when they attacked, bombed, shot at MKO bases including Jalula, Ashraf …? This means that MKO’s baseless strategy is based on deception which results in contradictions that caused a lot of defections after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The defections among women members were less than men due to the high level control on women. Once Masud Rajavi said “we have no female defector” so the control over women is very crucial and serious. Also, the public, health and organizational considerations on women are more serious to prevent their defection. I know all tricks they use still a lot of women succeeded to leave the group. They are either in the way to return to Iran or wandering in Iraq; and in Sahar Family Foundation we are looking for them to help them. A part of MKO forces count on European helps especially the French government. They are expending billions of dollars to European parliament members to remove the MKO from the list of terrorist organizations. They have good lobbies in European parliaments; however Maryam Rajavi’s base in Auvers-sur-Oise was raided on June 17, 2003 and she was arrested. Then, the self-immolations began. The bizarre point is that the members must set themselves on fire for the organization’s benefits. I remember how they were proud of the self-immolations. But how can they justify the fact that a person kills herself for Maryam Rajavi’s cause. When the Rajavis’ benefits are in danger, suicide is acceptable; the terror teams should chew cyanide pills in case of being arrested!
The SYSTEMATIC CONTROL within MKO
I believe if you have not been a member of the MKO cult, it is too hard to understand what the “systematic control” is. I will mention some aspects of it which I myself used to control members with. I name them one by one:
Current Operations Sessions: that is to speak out mind contradictions and to do self-criticism in front of a large gathering. In these sessions one has to severely self-criticize oneself and be harshly humiliated by others. This a technique used for mind manipulation of the members.
Group Works: contacting families with the presence of a third person; working on the internet in groups of two or more; scheduled work plan without any spare moment; the minimum sleeping time; hard physical works, and so on.
Divinity: the guru and the members of the leadership council and some elements close to the leader have a divine kind of ruling authority and a powerful mental influence over the ordinary members. The first rule is to express mind contradictions. That is the individual is persuaded to approach and express the contradictions of his thoughts compared with the instructions of the organization.
What do they mean by “Contradictions”? In the first phase of a person entering into the MKO or during a period of time after that, they indoctrinate the person to know what the criterion of each period is. For example, they indoctrinate that the “criterion of this era is to divorce the spouses”. So the member who enters the organization and its internal relations is supposed to describe the moments when he or she faces contradictions against the valuable phenomenon [divorce] in the ideology of the organization. Or in another example: suppose that the value in the MKO is that the men should keep away from the women. If an individual views a contradiction in such a value, he is encouraged to write them and hand them over to the officials. For instance if he saw a film and liked a woman in it or if he saw a woman in a gathering in Iraq and the woman recalled his wife to him; or if a woman saw a man and she thought of her husband, they would confess them all as their thought contradictions.
They convince the individual that expressing the contradictions is something that might cost any price. They talk about “any price” because the individual should expect insults and maltreatments following expressing his contradictions. A lot of time and effort is used for this issue.
They say that the principals of our doctrine are devotion and honesty. You should be so honest that you should confess all the moments of your feelings contradictory to the organizations’ values although they result to a disaster for you, or in the organizational terms: “You should pay any price” for being honest to the organization.
They want to control the members at any time during the day. They say that being a “Mojahed” is a valuable object. If a person, in one moment, thinks of family or social life or wishing to have a wife and home …, he or she should tell all the thoughts to the officials of the cult so they will be aware for the threat they feel from the side of that person and he/she will be under a higher control after that.
In the organizational hierarchy when an official who is responsible to control a low ranking member, doesn’t notice his problematic situation which ends him defecting or escaping from the group, that official will be deposed from his rank.
The worst punishments are enforced on the officials who are not aware of the problems of their forces who are about to defect. Rajavi even expressed in his message to the Leadership Council that: “It is much better to have two defectors everyday rather than having a runaway every year.”
See, how crucial it is for them. Now, what is the difference between a person who runs away and a person who comes to the groups’ leader asking to leave them? There is a big difference: Someone who escapes had so many contradictions in his mind that he eventually leaves the cult. He costs a high political price for the MKO. On the other hand, allegedly the future of this person has not been burned and he will be used by the enemy. Therefore it is very important for the leaders that if you want to leave, you should come and say so. They can find out when the member expresses his contradictions. They will focus on him. They put too much mental pressure on him in order to manipulate him, torturing him mentally, so as he might admit his regret and show his willingness to remain. If the person is a woman, they will bother her so much that she says “I was wrong”. If the person is a man and they finally find out that they can not keep him in, they will operate the process of “Burning future.”
It means that they have the defector to sign some engagements to allegedly burn his future. I remember a woman (whom I don’t want to tell her name) who wanted to leave the MKO, the officials told her “You want to go to cooperate with Iranian regime, to become a revolutionary guard, a torturer.” She said “No”. They said: “so if you do not want to be used by the regime you should be interviewed.”
They told her that the organization had helped her a lot and she must say it in the interview otherwise they wouldn’t let her go away.
They had dictated her interview. She had said “I am in complete health. The organization has helped me a lot. It struggles for its people’s freedom. It is so good …”
For the MKO leaders, it is not important what the defector wants to do. The only crucial thing is whether she will or won’t talk against the MKO. Only her silence matters. They want the defectors to leave, keep quiet and die…
What is Current Operation?
There is a practice within MKO’s internal relations called “nil-nil” (a cult type jargon) wherein everyday the members are supposed to allegedly demoralize themselves because they say that anyone who demoralizes himself and releases his energies will reach higher degrees. So they order the members to criticize each other daily and then listen to the others criticizing them. This is called “nil-nil” “criticizing others and being criticized".
There is another internal phenomenon called “Current Operation” (another jargon). This has been practiced in MKO cult since 1994. At the beginning it was oral. I mean that the members moved forward and spoke; but later it became written. In this way the member had to write anything he or she wanted to say and then read it inside the group. Masud Rajavi made too much noise calling the current operation as “Spiritual Jihad” as and even “higher than martyrdom”. Therefore, the members must confess all the sins they commit and they should expect any reaction from their colleagues.
For example, the member who attends the “Current Operation”, reads his confessions saying “Today I saw something precious on my superior’s desk and I took it” or “when I saw my superior this morning I suddenly imagined that she really looks like a torturer” or “when today I was supposed to work from 8 to 12, I just worked until 9 and then I went to the dorm and relaxed.” While the member is reading the facts, the others in the group insult him or her with an abusive language using terms like lumpish, idiot, . . . and punishing him or her orally and put the blames on him or her like “how do you want to liberate Iran while you don’t do your duties just right”
The “Current Operation” includes a stage called “cleansing” (cult jargon) that for the women in the leadership council should be practiced every moment and for the rest of women it is daily and for the men it is weekly. In these meetings the members must confess their sexual problems or thoughts. For Leadership Council the instruction was that if a female sees a male recalling her fiancé, she would have to confess her thoughts instantly and do the so-called “nil-nil” practice.
For ordinary female members this has to be practiced at the end of each day. For male members, the cleansing meeting is done every week on Fridays. They didn’t want to open up the relations between male and female members so the weekly meetings of men were held only by men (all meetings are generally held by women). As I noted in the previous session, there are some male members who are considered as the pins (jargon) of the organization and their responsibility is to control the members of each section. Their duties include holding the weekly meetings for the men and dealing with the problems between the male members and their female superiors. So the brother who was the pin of the organization in that section holds the meetings.
The women’s meetings are held by a member of Leadership Council and the meetings for a Leadership Council’s member are held by high-ranking members of the Council. If a member of the Leadership Council has a contradiction in mind, she has to declare it and do the so-called “nil-nil” practice. Then if it is found out through the reports, that person will be encountered and taken under more control. In fact, they have a goal. For example, the member thinks “I wish I could do something” or he thinks “How that woman looks like my ex-fiancé”. These are the moments, the moments wherein the member thinks about the outside world. But if she liked a boy (a teenager) and in a moment she liked to kiss him, she has to confess it immediately, this is a functional fact and as soon as the report of this confession is on hand, the situation of the both sides changes. A lot of efforts, in the MKO, are spent for cases such as who you have relations with and who you like.
One of the levers of the organizational control in MKO is the joint movements of female members which I mentioned in the first part of my memoirs. They said:”we order you to move jointly for your own sake. But everybody knows that this claim is baseless. Everybody knows that it’s because everyone should watch the others not to escape. They even force the most high-ranking officials to move jointly . They said that there shouldn’t be any exclusion, because exceptions in the regulations would discredit them.
Thus everyone has to obey the regulations and execute them in order to control the lower ranks.
Imposing maximum pressure for laboring, in order to leave no time for thinking
To follow the previous issue, I’d say that the organizational control includes a group working (peer pressure) which is very important .That is they see it so bad to work individually. They never let you work on your own. When you want to do gardening or even watch something, you should do it together with a colleague.
The two individuals who work together are divided into one major and one minor, because the two members working together shouldn’t have the same ranking. That is done with the intention of preventing friendly relationships. According to the MKO leaders any emotional and friendly relations is basically forbidden. The only relationship allowed is the organizational supervising relations.
I would like to note another organizational control system called the "order" (cult jargon). They interpret the friendly relations as being very disgusting. So they label any person talking to another one as someone who holds an "order”. The term "order" is considered as a branch of the Iranian revolutionary guard (meaning the enemy) by MKO. Thus they control each two persons working together so seriously that they would never make a friendly relationship. If they know that two members have emotional relations, they will never let them work together again. The two members in a group should only have organizational relations (one major and one minor).
Another trick that is used to heighten the organizational control over members – and since the fall of Saddam has turned into a rule in MKO – is that the family visits should also be taken place in the presence of a third person. In other words a companion should escort you in your visit with your family, allegedly to help you be more comfortable! Generally the organization doesn’t like the families to come to Camp Ashraf. They do not welcome the families. They try their best to prevent members from contacting their families and if the families call the camp, they won’t let the members know about it. For example when my brother had come to Italy and contacted the offices of MKO and had tried to visit me, they didn’t let me know; or they gave my father’s letter to me so late. When they were assured that my brother had left Italy, they gave his letter to me. The organization works very cautiously to stop the members thinking about normal life like getting married or having children. So it is very difficult or even impossible to contact the families to gain money or financial support; but even this sort of contact should be made under the control of a third person. There is a rule for members who work with the internet for marketing, searching or free down loads. They have no right to sit alone in a room or at a desk with a computer which is connected to the internet. There must be a second person who is not busy supervising your clicks and the websites you search in. There is a rule for the arrangement of the computer rooms; the monitors shouldn’t face the walls so that the controller of the room can always see the screens. Such a high control is applied because MKO doesn’t want the members to have any access to the outside world except to what the organization wants.
I’d like to talk about another case of organizational control:
In the early days after the Revolution, when the organization was in the so called political phase and marriage was not totally forbidden, the man or woman who wanted to get married had to do it in the manner of the organization, so marriage was an organizational prearranged issue with no normal emotional base.
Another example is the process of sending the children out of Iraq. There arises a question: why did the MKO do so?
First they wanted to totally cut the mother-child relationship and secondly the MKO took the children to various corners of Europe and America as hostages.
That is how they exactly treated me. As soon as I left the group, they looked for my daughter and brought her to Iraq to visit her father in Ashraf and it is something strange that they never brought her to Iraq during the very long time I was living there. They took my daughter from Sweden to Holland to talk to my son and convince him not to reply my communications. Therefore the organization applies too much efforts to restrict the former members as well as to control the current members.
Any official must arrange the schedules of the personnel under his or her responsibility with maximum working hours. Masud Rajavi had even said: ”I assigned your sisters as leadership council members to make the guys of the organization work so hard that they become very thin.”
Or he said: "Blade, axe and pistol should always be over the members’ head”, they should be under the maximum working pressure in order not to find any time to think.
Saints of MKO Leadership Council
Following the previous parts I’d like to start this part with a particular memory. I remember when Nasrin (Mahvash Sepehri, the third high-ranking leader after the Rajavis) said in a meeting of Leadership Council:”you should act in a way that when your Minor goes to bed, he or she should be like a dead body who has been beheaded. I mean that one should be so exhausted that one could not think of anything at all.” The working schedule of the members should be so tight that when they go to bed, they are like dead bodies; otherwise they might think of their spouse, their children or their families in their free time. And if they think of such things, they will criticize the organization and start complaining and finally join the other dissidents. Every Superior had to check her Minors’ schedules everyday to remove every free hour. Sleeping time must be at least. They say that: "the members should never sleep enough” because if they do so, the next night they will have enough energy to think before falling asleep. Thinking alone is dangerous for the organization.
You cannot imagine the dimensions of the organizational control inside MKO. There is another issue called “physical working time for the members”. It means that beside those hours you are working on a computer, you should also have some physical working time. Your job shouldn’t be sitting and working on a computer only. The job shouldn’t be absolutely mental. You should at least have two hours of physical working time a day. For example if your job is working on a computer, they will assign you an intensive working time in the kitchen too.
To extend their organizational control, they have inspired the members that the Leadership Council is very sacred. It is so saintly that no one can doubt its foundation or criticize it. Anything ordered by the Council must be obeyed. There are also some other elements called as Pins (cult jargon) including high-ranking members like Rahman (Abbas Davari) or Javad Baraiee or Reza Moradi.
They were the officials of men’s section. Everyone has to obey them. They were the equivalent of the Leadership Council.
Today I believe that this is the reason why MKO does not take any position against me despite the fact that I have had many interviews and done a lot of activities for Sahar Family Foundation. It’s so simple for the MKO to make some false documents accusing me for any crime but they do not do anything against me. Why? Because they don’t want to expose the truth that one of the saints of their leadership Council has escaped from the cult. Therefore they never take a position against me. If they say anything against me in their website, the twenty to twenty-five members of the Leadership Council who run the sites will realize the fact and that’s what the organization doesn’t want.
I’d like to discuss an issue: cutting off with the normal world and the art of remaining revolutionary. This is a principal very similar to that of other cults around the world. The primary principal of such an art (the art of remaining revolutionary) is to leave the family. It means that you should take distance from your family and friends. Particularly after the Ideological revolution you should pass a phase called ideological divorce, whether you are married or single or if you have any children you should pass over them emotionally and abandon them and then enter the organization. After you entered the organization you couldn’t even have a pocket radio because it links you to the outside world. You cannot use any mass media except that of MKO. They never let the news of the other Media broadcast in the hall. Sometime they even record, edit and censure the news and then show them, just to claim that they broadcast the news of CNN or Al Jazeera. They are very careful about the relationships between the members and the people of the outside society such as the Iraqis who come to the camp. They care about the relations because they don’t want to risk the art of remaining Revolutionary. They say:” becoming Revolutionary is not an art but remaining Revolutionary is an art.” They say that they help to remain Revolutionary. How do they help? They send your children far away to make you free and consequently they solve your contradiction. Here, you see the highest deception. However this is how the organization acts for its own survival, but they make you think that you owe them because they help you!
Another example is that you should submit all your photos or souvenirs to MKO. Love and friendship is forbidden. They have created a world of violence without any emotions.
They also confiscate the members’ ID cards and passports to cut them off their identities. They have a theory called: " in contradiction with the society”. When one enters MKO where one is always criticized, one finds the life so hard. They say that the art of remaining Revolutionary means that you must solve the contradiction with the group. They make you consider the life in the group as a value. Thus, the member is gradually departed from his or her world and becomes a puppet that acts in the same way the organization wants.
The so called point of outer self
The most important matter within MKO is the way members have to make their relationships with their outer self or the so called point of outer self (cult jargon).
To define this issue, you should first discuss the leadership in MKO. I mean that they consider the relationships of a member limited to his relationships with the leadership only. In fact, the position of the leadership is so special that everything is defined or formed on that base. The first paragraph of the manifesto of the ideological revolution says: "there is an obstacle between each member and the leader" which should be removed. For example Rajavi officially questioned that: "who is in the bottom of your heart?", and then declared that "I want Maryam to be there instead."
It is definitely funny to fill the bottom of our hearts with someone else (other than Masud). When Masud says that he doesn’t want anyone – parents, relatives, spouses … – to be in the bottom of our heart except Maryam, he means that the members should only be with him. "Maryam" is the nickname for Masud. This is also a deceit because they indirectly say that the substitute for parents, children, and spouses … is Maryam. Maryam, is just a puppet who must praise Masud every day. They have set a structure that her daily job is to lead the members, canalize them and control them for the time Masud wants to launch an operation and achieve his goals.
For Example, they clearly declared that every individual resembles a mathematical fraction. It means that everyone consists of a numerator and a denominator. They say that the numerator is Maryam and the denominator is Masud, Where the numerator equals breath and the denominator equals blood. It means that so long as the member is alive and is breathing, he must work for Maryam and whenever Masud desires, he must sacrifice his blood . Therefore, they own the individuality of the member. And this was the reason for Maryam’s election as a co-leader. Masud chose a woman who was in fact his comrade’s wife. He sought after her. Then they married and their story began: Maryam became the first person in charge of MKO (after Masud who was the spiritual leader) and they carried on until Maryam said: "every member of the organization should follow my path.” This was defined differently for men and women. Basically in this way, they elected the first group of leadership council : they chose the female members who acted as Masud desired. They had to perform exactly what Masud commanded . They left aside the male members. Why? Because they didn’t want to make the changes Masud wanted. Women fit in the system founded by Masud more easily than men. The women members didn’t do anything by themselves; they executed Masud’s orders more according to his wishes. There are so many male members in MKO who are more knowledgeable, more intelligent and even more skillful than Masud. In that system of controlling, Masud could make all of them to obey his orders. The women were taught how to control the men. In order to prevent men complaining, they gave some of them titles such as "Pins", "Columns" … (cult jargons) and used them in some tasks which are typically men’s work. But actually, the most private problems of men were studied by the women members of the Leadership Council. The worst one was Nasrin (Mahvash Sepehri) who encountered them in the meetings.
Of course, the leadership Council often had arguments that Rajavi had to come and solve the problems personally. I remember when in 1995 the members of the Leadership Council were passive and disappointed, Masud Rajavi held lengthy meetings (15 to 30 days) called the Second Constitutors to convince them. However, Rajavi had the ability to do so. For example he is told that someone has a problem. Rajavi calls him to the microphone and starts up a conversation with him, and after convincing him they finally conciliate. Rajavi is already informed of what kind of personality that member has or what his problem is because his monitoring system has fed him with all information. For example, he knows that the member’s child is dead. He says to him: "well, Reza do you think about your kid?” and poor Reza wonders "what a smart leader he is! He knows everything about me!" therefore Rajavi convinces him that the leader is an extraordinary person who has good relations with all members and remembers all their private issues. Sometimes, they hold some primary meetings before the main meetings. During a primary meeting, they start admiring Masud, describing his abilities and different dimensions of his life, his personality, his activities and the high-quality of his revolution and the short hours of his sleep. Then, they say "you should join such an eternal origin".
Maryam made too much effort to praise Masud. Even she said: "I’m not able to acquaint Masud". I mean Maryam had planned to convince the members that Masud is an extra-ordinary person. She tried her best to convince the members that Masud is superior to his era .
She has silly strategies saying that "we will enter Iran, we will overthrow the regime" but those who are skillful in politics know that this is quite impossible, yet Maryam told the hesitators: "You can’t understand this because what Masud says happens after a few years.
She tried to give him significant characteristics saying that he is linked with an eternal origin.
Sometimes Masud did the same for Maryam. He began to admire her and Maryam apparently complained against his compliments. This was a game between them. These disgusting relations makes the people outside the organization believe that MKO is a cult of personality. All authorities have to submit their members’ reports to Masud. And Masud reads them all.
Every year, on New Year’s Day they give some gifts to the Leadership Council members to affect them emotionally. The gifts include sister Maryam’s watches or necklaces … or gold medallions with Masud’s portrait on them.
To convince the members to attempt self-immolations or suicide bombing operations, Masud visited them and had a party with them and clearly told them "You shouldn’t get arrested alive, in case of being arrested you have to kill yourselves immediately. "They falsified all religious Hadith (quotations of the Prophet), and even Quran was interpreted in their own way to legitimize the suicide bombing attacks.
Besides, Maryam Rajavi was considered superior to a normal leader. Rajavi’s ambitions are to make Maryam a leader like Masud, an avant-garde of revolutionaries who can replace Masud in his absence. She meets Lords, deputies and MPs. She creates an atmosphere to present a false picture of Masud, herself and MKO.
Mujahedin’s struggle principals
In this session, I would like to describe the struggle that today MKO insists on its principals. They say that their struggle is their main investment. I want to talk about MKO fighters, to learn how their fight and their principals were at the beginning, in what stage of their struggle they are now, and how much they have been loyal to their primary principals of their struggle.
Since 1964, I mean when the founders of MKO established the group, they determined a definition for Right and Wrong. Their definition was somehow new at that time. They defined Right and Wrong as “exploiter” and “exploited”. The objective example for the Wrong was US-backed dictatorship of Shah. Along with these principals, they decided to launch an armed struggle against Shah and US military officials, advisors and economic or cultural authorities.
They continued their struggle, even after the mass arrests of the group’s members in 1970, fighting to overthrow Shah’s monarchy. They were killed either inside or outside the prison. It is good to know that at that time Masud Rajavi’s organizational comrades including Badi’ Zadegan, Hanif Nejad and even some others who were at lower ranks comparing Masud, were executed in the prison, but Masud Rajavi survived. Although MKO has always justified this fact by some nonsense, there are a lot of accusations against Masud Rajavi who could manage to survive among so many comrades who were executed. I’d rather explain the process Rajavi headed after the Islamic Revolution; I want to evaluate the way he acted far from those primary principals.
When Masud Rajavi was released from Evin prison, he addressed some speeches in Amjadiyeh stadium and other places. The criterion that can prove Rajavi’s disentitlement for MKO’s leadership was his eagerness to claim himself as the leader of the group immediately after he was released from the prison. He was extremely enthusiastic to introduce himself as the leader of the movement and the revolution and he tried to make others to recognize his self-assigned position. He did not want any other post except that of a leader. He didn’t recognize any other person as the leader.
When his true face was shown, the main problem of MKO was brought about. He showed his hostility toward many individuals. I mean, he was looking for a leadership role when the Iranians had all focused on Ayatollah Khomeini’s leadership as the only legitimate leader. In fact, Rajavi’s extreme jealousy and hostility was coming up. When he couldn’t get the first position as the leader of Iran, he tried to get the president’s office but he was not allowed to be a presidential candidate because he hadn’t voted for the constitution he was supposed to prosecute. All these things pushed him to an open opposition against the Iranian Revolution.
After a short period of time, on June 20th, 1981 he declared armed struggle against Islamic Republic. I think since then the organization’s circle of power has completely changed. Indeed, Rajavi himself insists on this change. But the change was in a way that the organization distanced from a popular organization. Actually, he declared armed struggle in that disturbing situation in the society after too much bloodshed, only to achieve his personally lost objectives. It was just for his personality in his cult. Therefore, he did his best to endanger social security.
At the time, I was in grade one at high school. I remember how MKO misused the tiniest complaints or protests in schools for its own cause. As a student, I didn’t know anything about the organization.
Just sometimes I protested against the conditions and MKO took the benefit of my adventurous, immature protests and recruited me. As the first step, once you joined the group, you had to leave your family and go to the group’s safe houses to “fight the Islamic Republic”. MKO members were quite active at schools and they could influence those who had the potentiality and opposed the regime. For example, some students protested against mass praying, they didn’t like to participate it, or they had complaints about veil (hijab). These people were the same ones who fell in MKO’s trap more easily. The group recruiters worked on the students in order to absorb them gradually. Then they used to ask the new recruits to give financial helps. They focused on those who were passionately revolutionary. They continued with the new recruited ones to bring more students to the organization’s net.
I remember that they arranged mountain climbing tours to recruit new students. So gradually I was recruited by MKO without having any information about the group and its cause.
When MKO declared armed struggle, they trapped a group of young people who had no way but to stay in MKO’s safe houses. They were supposed to launch operations. But I didn’t know this at that time. I could only read about it later. I was too young for politics or Rajavi’s theories, but I saw some active, devotee youth who worked for the group.
Finally, the organization was outlawed by the Islamic Republic because of its armed struggle against the regime, the state and the authorities. Some of its members were arrested. Masud Rajavi fled Iran along with Banisadr and survived, although his wife Ashraf was killed in Iran. Masud had no pity for his wife and never tried to get her out of Iran.