An interview with Batool Soltani on MKO self-immolations – Part 23
Sahar Family Foundation: Remarkable in the immolation’s observation is the subject of the organization’s establishment of relation with the family of the victims. First, it is of significance to learn from what angle the organization does look at the families.
Second, how it opens relations with them; third, is the family background ever important to select the suicide, and forth, what deterrent role this family backgrounds plays to affect selection of the victims? And last, elucidate the impact of the 17 June self-burnings on families as you have witnessed.
Batool Soltani: Your questions although they all focus on a single issue, they can be discussed from a variety of aspects concerning the organization’s furthering relations with families. Let’s begin with some introductory details and I will further explain if needed. The organization keeps a confidential file for members with whatever ranking and organizational background in which there is certain sub-file containing information about the members’ family; the individual statistics of any family member, social class, job status, political inclinations and where they live, that is to say, inside or outside of Iran.
The latter information is highly important for the organization and it cares about the families’ dwelling in foreign countries. All supervisors were sensitive to find out if the members under their command had any member of their family residing in any foreign country.
It was much because the presence of a family member in a foreign country could be challenging and would cost the organization a lot. From a political-security point of view, they could possibly infiltrate the organization under any pretext to get it into trouble. As a result, members whose family or some member of their families lived abroad were suspected to be bonded with an infiltrator. I will explain how they could cause trouble. The organization became hypersensitive to families especially in the case of occurring suspicious deaths, suicide operations, missing of members and imprisonments and the like. When, for instance, a member like Soheil Khata died of a suspicious cause, the organization cared not the least because he had nobody abroad. Nobody knew he died of suicide or was murdered. His death was no cause of trouble because he had nobody abroad to question the organization, but it could be different if he had.
Now compare the organization’s indifference to Khata’s death and its manner and conduct with Neda’s family before and after her suicide operation. That is because Neda’s family lived abroad since long and they could push the organization into real crisis if they wanted and reacted against her death. So the organization mobilized all its power to bring her family under its control and, I believe, the organization had been in close contact with her family even before her self-immolation. It is even of magnitude to work first on her father or mother and I am sure they worked according to a scenario as I know that is how they act.
Here is the evidence to prove my claim. Following the immolations, Mozhgan Parsai stated that the immolations had inflicted heavy responsibility on the organization abroad. She meant Neda’s immolation with regard to her family’s living abroad could get the organization into big trouble and that calculated steps had to be taken when dealing with her family.
It was not important in the case of Marzieh Babakhani because she had nobody living abroad. Mozhgan insisted that all had to be mobilized to concentrate on Neda’s family and especially on her brother who was in Camp Ashraf. She issued additional orders to watch him directly and closely and to establish specific contact with him to further and justifiably clarify the issues. They in the organization know the right time for the right action through the proper means.
It is also of great concern in what country the families live, in England, France, Germany or any other European or non-European country. That is because the juridical systems in these countries could influentially affect the results of any lawsuit by the families against the organization. Remarkable in the organization’s ploy was Maryam’s showy behavior with Neda Hassani’s family. From the very beginning, Maryam started with a ceremoniously emotional demeanor and would weep tears in their presence to show her grief over her death. She wept for her and, at the same time, praised her spontaneous act in a show of her ultimate commitment to repudiate responsibility of her death and avert any lawsuit by her family.
The organization had even purchased gifts and presents to give her family on occasions. It moved just according to a preplanned scenario. Noteworthy in this entire affair was that all these factitious manners were filmed and photographed for widespread propaganda shows that were heavily reflected in the media.
SFF: Sorry to interrupt Ms. Soltani. Let’s continue the subject corroborated with your evidences in the next session. What were other issues the organization explicitly stressed on in relation to Neda’s family? Did they merely intend to gratify the family or implicitly made threatening to deter the family from engaging in any lawsuit against the organization?
BS: As I said, the organization mainly tried to persuade them that Nada’s immolation was not an organizationally persuaded action but impulsive. Of course all was implicitly stated otherwise it could imply organizational disobedience and Maryam was reluctant to use such terms directly. She rather meant to persuade the family that Neda’s death was the outcome of her great devotion and commitment to her leader and thus, on the one hand Neda would be the sole responsible for her own death and on the other hand, it would be Maryam who pocketed the merit of her action. Of course, Maryam showed so distraught with grief for Neda’s death that her parents who, impressed by Maryam’s performance, forgot about their own grieves and began to condole her on their own daughter’s death. Although it might be hard to believe and digest, but it really happened and the organization acted much cunningly in its role playing; to send an innocent to her death and then to sit weeping along with her family and then, not only escape trial on charges of her death but to make the family feel indebted to the murderer.
To be continued