Memoirs of Ms. Batoul Soltani – part 15
The key approach to know a political or an ideological movement is to know its leaders in the first place. Masud Rajavi, the leader of MKO is 59 years old. He was born in the city of Tabas, in the north-eastern province of Khorasan. He finished his primary school there and later he moved to Mashhad to continue his high school education. He was accepted as a law student at Tehran University where he was linked with the newly established organization founded by Hanif Nezhad, Badi’ Zadegan, Saeed Mohsen. In 1970, he was arrested along with a large number of his comrades in the group. Consequently, all MKO leaders were executed except Masud Rajavi who was released during the first days of the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Soon he declared his opposition to the Islamic Republic. I think he had some desires and he knew that he was not able to achieve them at that situation.
I don’t have much information about him or his political ideas as a youngster. I just know that he was born in a religious middle-class family. He had a sister named Monireh who was executed in Iran years ago. He also had two brothers, Kazem who was assassinated in Switzerland and Saleh who is living in France now. I have no idea about his other brothers and sisters. I don’t know if his parents are still alive or not.
When I joined the organization, I was not attracted by Rajavi himself since I was too young when he entered the political scene of Iran. I didn’t know much about him, so he was not a key factor for my involvement with MKO in the first place. I was actually motivated by the social and military situation I faced at that time. I felt that all the ways for my progress were closed or limited so I joined the organization. Besides, the main influential factor for my involvement with MKO was my husband since he had been recruited earlier by the group.
When I went to Pakistan and then to Iraq, I found out that Rajavi is worshipped as an idol or perhaps just like the God. In a safe house in Pakistan where I had to stay, I had enough time to think about the issue. In Iraq I received some training called HS based on the role of leadership in the organization. I gradually got curious about Rajavi’s personality. "Who is he in fact? What are his differences with other people? Why is he so respected?” I thought.
In fact, Rajavi was the core of power in the group. I tried to adapt myself with the new situation. However, I heard many things about him, his predictions, and his political and theoretical intelligence. In fact, I didn’t think about it too much but I just convinced myself. Sometimes Maryam spoke about him and his leadership. I wondered if he was really deserved so much admirations.
Masud Rajavi is the fixed axis of the organization where the leadership is very important. Every individual who enters the organization is under close observation all the time and the person’s actions or reactions are watched. When the video cassettes of leaders’ speeches are played, the members’ reactions are monitored. They inspect how deep the member is listening to the tape or on the contrary he is just day dreaming. They even care about the way the members encounter the arguments. They hold meetings to get the feedbacks. Even, in the Reception period, the first question they ask after listening to the tape is that: ”well, what did you understand of it?”
Basically, all these practices are functions to find the contradictions in the members’ minds. They called it “mental contradictions” which could matter in future relations and functions of the members. I tried to adapt myself. I mean I persuaded myself with the situation rather than focusing on my contradictions. I tried to finish with it and get along with the situation.
If the majority had reached a result, I would follow them. I didn’t talk of my doubts and contradictions. But, it is very important for them to know the members’ special problems about the leadership. They want to know their positions, their reactions and their understandings towards the leadership, following the trainings they had received. They told us the reason later.
When we took positions in higher ranks of the leadership council, we were told that a member who had a very tiny doubt about being melted in the leadership would surely have problems in higher levels and the leaders’ further commands. Since these members would train their minor ranks, in turn, their “mental contradictions" should be solved soon.
As a matter of fact they want to know if the members would stay in or leave the group. Once an individual is recruited by MKO, all his abilities and qualifications are acknowledged and categorized mentally and psychologically. They even matter the quality of his motivations, emotions and interests. They have a slogan saying that “Your art as a major member is that you never neglect your minor members. It means that you shouldn’t face a member who is out of the organization’s relations regularly. Rajavi even warned that members might physically be in line but not mentally. He seriously cares about how the superior members look after their minors. He always insisted that it is crucial for the majors to know the minors under their responsibility. In a meeting where some commanders had attended, he said: ”I don’t care how many people you keep in the organization. I just care if there is a person in your relations whom you haven’t known completely.
He meant that you should have enough information about your members’ minds that you can prevent them escaping. The leaders of MKO are very severe about what’s going on in the minds and hearts of their members.
They would rather have 10 defectors who have already been known than 1 defector who had not been known before. In each unit they look for the members who are hesitant. They’d rather have only four members in a unit but four qualified ones. They say: ”quality is more important than quantity” this is the goal. This is what they base these practices on. They want to know the so-called internal or hidden moments and words of a person.
The first time I visited Masud Rajavi, I was just promoted. I was moved to the rank S from the rank H. I was shifted from being a supporter of MKO to a sympathizer. In our meeting with Rajavi, he stated some arguments about supporters and sympathizers. Then, as I was promoting to higher ranks, meetings with Rajavi were increasing as well.
It took me three months since my first days in MKO until I met Masud Rajavi for the first time. During those months, while I was getting my trainings, whenever they argued about our contradictions, they spoke of Masud and Maryam Rajavi. Masud is the unique criterion to evaluate the extent of devotion of the members. Typically, when someone from a free society attends the meetings of Maryam or Masud, they are so eager to know about the contradictions one has brought from the outside world. They recognize the problems one has in one’s mind and then they arrange their relationships accordingly.
As I said, Masud is the criterion for everything. They want to know what the person’s motive for struggle according to this criterion is. Everything is evaluated to in accordance with this criterion. Everything is clarified by Masud as the core value which shows the measures of a person’s devotion to MKO.
Before the first visit, I didn’t know much about Masud .So I just wanted to listen to his words to understand what he cares about. In the first meeting, he mostly spoke of how professional the organization was. Maryam was also there. I don’t remember how I felt or I’d just say I didn’t have any particular feeling. I was mostly curious to know about his desires, his ideology and his thoughts.
Until my first visit I didn’t know that Masud had married Maryam. You may be surprised to know that I didn’t know Maryam Rajavi at all, let alone knowing that she was Mehdi Abrishamchi’s ex-wife.
After I entered the organizational relations I gradually realized that she had been Mehdi Abrishamchi’s wife before. When Mehdi spoke about divorce and marriage arguments, he said that it was not a normal divorce or marriage and this was the first time I learned about their relations. The leaders of MKO tried to make the new-comers to consider and judge the affairs in the way the leaders wanted to. They led the affairs to proceed in the direction they wanted to, and to conclude with the exact results they had planed for. So I always tried to cope with their way in order not to be punished. Even though I had problems or questions, I never exposed them; I wondered in my mind asking about the contradictions I had faced with. I wondered what important issue made Maryam divorce her husband and marry Masud Rajavi; how this phenomenon should be interpreted.
There were various storms going on in my mind. I thought about the probability of how dissolute could Rajavi be based on his marriage with Firouzeh Banisadr (the young daughter of former president Banisadr) immediately after his first wife was killed in Iran.
I wondered about the social, moral or age factors that had linked Masud Rajavi with Firouzeh Banisadr. I had a lot of ambiguity and questions in my mind and of course MKO never was willing to answer and clarify such problems. I couldn’t understand why they called Masud Rajavi’s Marriage an “Ideological” one.
It is worth knowing that I was surprised to see in the meetings that all queries in my mind were discussed. For instance the person in charge of the meeting presented the arguments around the ideological marriage. I saw that Masud Rajavi apparently tried to put himself under moral accusations to clarify the case. In fact they categorized everything that might occur to the minds of the members. I was eager to know how they answer the questions I had in my mind. I supposed that it was really an accusation, how would they defend themselves.
Translated by Nejat Society