Falling in a well called Ashraf
Interview with Mahmoud Dashtestani a recently defected member of Mujahedin Khalq Organization.
Dashtestani was a 16-year old teenager when he was captured by Iraqi forces in his way from Abadan to Mahshahr [two towns in SouthWestern part of Iran where Iraq invaded in 1979].in 1988 after ten years of imprisonment in Iraqi prisons when Mujahedin offered him help return to Iran ,he admitted their offer.
He was deceived by MKO due to two reasons .First because he was not informed enough and second was MKO’s dirty recruitment tactics and the mind control system that enhanced and abused that lack of information.
Q: Please introduce yourself and explain how you were recruited by MKO?
Dashtestani: I am Mahmoud Dashtestani. I was born in 1965. I was captivated as a civilian when I was commuting from Abadan to Mahshahr in 1979. I was then imprisoned in Iraqi Camps for about ten years.
In the late years of my imprisonment when Iran and Iraq had both admitted a ceasefire, too much propaganda was launched by MKO in POW camps. They persuaded the prisoners to join their organization. Anyway, under too much pressure and due to lack of information on the group I was deceived by MKO and then I joined Camp Ashraf. I was hopeful to return to Iran by the possibilities that MKO would provide for me.
– How could you manage to leave the group?
– After two months, we asked why they did not return us to Iran. They told us that they had recently sent some people to Iran and all of them had been executed or sentenced to long-term imprisonment.
Then, Massoud Rajavi held a meeting for us to repeat the above mentioned lies. Terrified of returning to Iran, we were pulled into the cult. We were supposed to attend ideological meetings six hours a day. We were gradually so manipulated that we thought the whole world was consisted of Mujahidin and Ashraf.
Between the years of 1993 and 2002 people could rarely succeed to leave Camp Ashraf. If you wanted to leave the camp, you would have to go to Abu-Quraib prison first and you would stay there for seven or eight years, otherwise you would have to stay in the camp’s prison, called "departure gate", for two years, so that all your information would be wiped out of your mind.
Since 2003, after the US invasion to Iraq, until 2009 when I succeeded to return to Iran, I asked several times for leaving Ashraf but each time they held longtime ideological meetings where my old and intimate friends made an emotional atmosphere to convince me to stay in the Camp. Any way I was dissuaded by them.
But now that I am in Iran, if you ask me how I feel, I tell you that I have one precious thing here; freedom. Here, my mind, my sole, my emotions, my feelings, my life are free. I am free to choose what to eat, what to wear, where to go. You are totally free in your life and that’s what you can never imagine in Camp Ashraf where everything begins and ends in the leader and his will.
– Do you have any regret of leaving Ashraf?
– Not at all. I just regret why I didn’t return to Iran earlier, because Iran is not like what they publicized in MKO. I don’t mean that there is no problem in Iran but it is entirely different from what their propaganda says.
– What do they say about Iran? Let us know!
– There is an obligatory program on Monday afternoons. They show the members some films of social issues like poverty, addiction, courts, divorce, suicide, immoral relations, prostitutions, and then they say that’s the whole thing which exists in Iran. they say," This is Iranians’ routine life".
In Ashraf garrison no emotion or feeling is found. Emotions towards your family, parents, brother, sister, wife and kids are meaningless. Everything is meaningful under will of the leader. In such an atmosphere, when we saw those so-called films of Iran, we thought that we really had a good life in Ashraf. We thought that we were really struggling for a monotheist classless society.
When I returned to Iran, I expected to see all men and women addicted in the streets! I thought I would see people hung on every square! I was seriously anxious about such scenes in Iran.
When I was first faced by Iranian authorities, I really got hopeful. They visited me in a hotel in Iraq where a room was allocated to me by Iranian Embassy. They asked me if I wanted to get back to Iran or to go to a third country. I answered "Iran" although I was in fear of those films I had seen in Camp Ashraf.
MKO leaders say that you shouldn’t think about family because it leads you to emotions. If such thinking crosses your mind, you should write in your daily record and then read it in the brainwashing meeting, every week. Thinking of emotions will decrease your love for leader, according to Rajavi. If you think of your mother, she is then called IRI’s mercenary.
– Even mother and father?
– Yes, absolutely ."Mother" is definitely a permanent case in brainwashing meetings.
When Rajavi launched those brainwashing meetings, he proudly told us that he granted them as gifts to his members.
The subjects of the meetings were mostly about sexual issues.
Translated by Nejat Society