Mujahedin in Denial

Out of fear, the MEK leadership has been unable to cope with an ongoing challenge regarding their loss of “protected persons status” which was issued to them, under the Geneva Convention, shortly after the war in Iraq began. But since the Iraqi government took over in 2004, the “protected person’s status” has been defunct and Mujahedin Khalq leaders and members have been in a state of denial. The reality is that they have had a downfall in Iraq, and the Iraqi For the MKO, the current situation is dismal, the loss of their status is daunting, and yet in their denial they cling to this obsolete status. government is determined to expel them from Camp Ashraf, the territory which the MKO has occupied for more than two decades.

According to Wijdan Mikhail Salim, one of the Iraqi Human Rights Ministers, "Conditions for asylum seeking as well as the terms of Geneva Conventions do not apply to the members of the group [MKO]" [1]

Furthermore, a reporter for TIME, Rania Abouzeid, reports in her coverage of Camp Ashraf that “[t]he obligation to treat the MEK as protected persons under the law of war ended when the Coalition Provisional Authority handed over responsibility for governing Iraq to the Iraqi interim government in June 2004 which ended the occupation of Iraq.” Abouzeid articulates that the MEK has insisted they maintain this status—one of the members even showed her a photo ID with no expiration date. In response Abouzeid reports that according to a Western official, “protected person status is never a permanent status as it applies only during circumstances of armed conflict or occupation.’” [2]

In fact, in February 2010 it was published in the UK House of Lords’ website, that "the view of UK Government is that with the formal end of hostilities and the transfer of responsibilities for the Camp to the Iraqi authorities; any claim to protected persons status by the camp’s residents under the fourth Geneva Convention has ceased to apply. That view is shared by the United Nations. The camp leadership has been given that information."[3]

Although camp leadership has essentially been told by the Iraqi government that they are no longer protected, the members are still being told they are. Members are still isolated from the outside world, and they are regularly exposed to the groups’ own media. This propaganda campaign, an emblematic tactic for the MKO, keeps members subdued and believing that the organization maintains strength. For leadership, such misinformation serves to systematically reinforce a delusion (which they believe puts them in power in Iran); it also serves to protect the deluded members. However, this campaign will only make it more difficult for members once they find out the truth of their status, and are faced with repercussions as a result of the group’s terrorist history. For the MKO, the current situation is dismal, the loss of their status is daunting, and yet in their denial they cling to this obsolete status.

[1] "Geneva Conventions ‘not applicable’ to MKO". PressTV. December 22, 2009 <http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=114353§ionid=351020101>.
[2] Abouzeid, Rania. "An Anti-Iranian Enclave in Iraq Fights to Stay". Time/CNN . April 12, 2009 <http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1890590,00.html>.
[3] Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead, Baroness Falkner of Margravine. "United Kingdom Parliament.” Parliamentary Business. UK Parliament, Tuesday, 9 February 2010. Web. 29 Apr 2010. <http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200910/ldhansrd/text/100209-0001.htm>.

By: Mazda Parsi

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