An interview with Batool Soltani on MKO self-immolations – Part sixteen
Sahar Family Foundation: your explanations concerning the approach to carry out the June 17 immolations may indicate that ranking members like Sediqeh, Mozhgan, Beheshteh and more have undertaken the role of an intermediary to have the objectives of the leadership and the organization fulfilled. That is, they provoke others and then withdraw into the shadow or even they may directly engage themselves in the action and sacrifice.
In fact, they may either be instigators or professional activists who engender people like Neda Hassani to be victimized.
Batool Soltani: Somehow it can be said that they play a dual role. Some are stopped just before the attempt according to a schematic plan and some other continue to carry out the orders to the end and entice others to follow.
Furthermore, these intermediaries, as you call them, have a crucial role to play for the media. Much of the success relies on the spectacular achievements of propaganda and whatever the media are to air or release for the public concerning an incident; anything is already articulated and the interviewee selected. It is not so as you think that anybody at random happens to be interviewed by the reporters. Among the members who have set themselves on fire, for instance, Marzieh Babakhani had been selected to talk for the media, as she did with Algeria News Agency. Why did not they choose Hamid Orafa for the job?
Because he was not fully briefed on the whole issue and he could make things worse. Besides, Marzieh’s deformed profile could move people and cultivate in them what best helped organization to take advantage of the situation. She had been selected to be the spokeswoman for the organization and the leadership.
On the other hand, the organization had to first adopt a clear position vis-à-vis the victims, like Neda, and their families to fully figure things out to serve organizational interests. Second, the victim families’ position had to be a show of acquiescence of what their children had done for the organization. Neda family’s attitude had to be indicative of an unforced and arbitrary self-burning by their daughter as a display of her commitment to the leadership and the organization; of course, nobody could consequently condemn the organization and fill a complaint against it.
No doubt, the family had to be fully protected financially, emotionally and through encouraging media coverage to optimistically demonstrate its sympathy for the organization. A good model generated of its own vicious cunning, the protection provided for the family, the money spent, the blood and life of a beloved consumed, all serve to glorify the organization and the leader.
SFF: Does not it raise any question in the minds of the members where the Nada’s family has been to suddenly become the center of so much organizational attention?
BS: It is of no importance for the organization and Rajavi at all. I was in England for four years and Neda’s family were also there. There was no connection between the organization and the family in all these years and it all happened unexpectedly.
Following Neda’s self-burning, the organization exerted much energy to establish close contact with her family and have control over it to persuade it act in behalf of the organization before the camera. The founded intimacy with her parents was more a precautionary measure to avert any unexpected decision against the organization that could mess things up.
SFF: On the one hand the organization, as you say, tries to demonstrate Neda’s death as the outcome of an arbitrary act of immolation, but on the other hand seeks to glorify it within the organization and for the media as a sacred act calling Neda a martyr. How the contradiction is dealt with inside and outside of the organization?
BS: I was an insider and know well that the organization acclaimed Neda’s feat as it was organizationally decreed. The organization’s acknowledgment of her self-immolation bordered on idolatry because the feat was not self-induced but done in compliance with organizational order. It made no difference what they outside would say; the insiders were well aware of the truth.
SFF: Naturally enough, it is evident that the organization tries to justify her feat through an appeal to appraisal of her deed. And, of course, the insiders all know that it was organizationally enjoined.
But it is hard for the outsiders to believe the paradox. On the one hand, Maryam claimed that self-immolations were self-imposed and arbitrary and even accused the French police of preventing her messages to reach outside to stop self-burnings. But she is the first to pay tribute to her tomb to christen her a martyr.
And Massoud is the first to deliver a message to glorify self-immolations and Neda’s act. Mojahedi’s TV broadcasts programs and ceremonies inside Camp Ashraf to celebrate the feats. How, then, can the organization disavow its role in these actions? These are all evidences that approve the organization’s pivotal role. I mean, does the organization think that it can easily make the paradoxes acceptable for the outsiders, as it does concerning the members?
BS: Frankly speaking, the organization is not at all concerned about the prevalence of such contradictions outside let alone a convincing answer. The contradictions you refer to are absolutely natural. That is to say, if you are opposed to such actions, then, of what use are all these propaganda? When you idolize Neda, willingly or unwillingly, you are creating an archetype for others to follow to overcome organizational crisis as well as showing a way to salvation. What is of importance for the organization is the immediate interests and advantages it gains from these all. This is only one aspect of the issue. It is completely different inside of the organization.
Rajavi is frank and has no fear to unveil intended achievements behind the immolations. In answer to the question why people like Neda have to burn themselves for Maryam, Rajavi said when thousands of people were ready to kill themselves for (Abdullah) Ojalan, for Maryam all the organization had to. He compared Maryam with Ojalan in a videotaped message displayed exclusively for the members in the level of Leadership Council. He said nobody condemned neither the organizers and instigators of the mass suicide for Ojalan or Ojalan himself. In his message, Rajavi referred to at least 25 cases of immolations; he was displeased as he believed the members were indebted to Maryam and had not done all they had to.
He would say we had failed to do billionth of what we should have done for Maryam and that, it was Maryam who had suffered and shouldered all hardships. That is how they behave inside the organization. For the outside, it is not necessary to be privy of the details of the inside and the routine is to arrange a pattern not to embroil itself in any row or court case. The responsibility is thoroughly laid on the self-burners themselves.
SFF: forgive my interruption Ms. Soltani, are your explanations excerpts from the very Rajavi’s message delivered from the hideout?
BS: Yes, they are. They are parts of his message delivered for the Leadership Council from his hideout.
To be continued