Iraqi Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday that three leaders from “People Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI)” have seceded from the group.
They flew Ashraf Camp and handed themselves to Iraqi authorities, the Ministry said.
The separatists accused PMOI commands of interfering in Iraq’s affairs and training Ashraf Camp residents on using arms to attack Iraqi Forces. The group was accused as well of training Iraqis and giving them positions in the government in order to endorse the group’s presence in Iraq.
“Three leaders of People Mujahedeen of Iran managed to escape Ashraf Camp along with tens others. Separatists are namely senior leader Maryam Sanjabi, leader Abdul Latif Shadvari and leader Ibrat Kikha’i”, Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed Al Askari said in a press conference in Baghdad attended by Alsumarianews.
“There are confirmed reports and data from the new Iraq camp formerly known as Ashraf Camp about many residents trying to escape the camp and leave Iraq. Tens of them managed to flee the camp and handed themselves to the Iraqi government seeking help”, Al Askari said.
“Iraq’s government is dealing humanitarianly with these people and is trying to help them at their ease by coordinating with the international organizations and friend countries they wish to resort to. The government seeks to help camp residents who wish to leave the country upon their preferences”, he stressed.
Separatist Ibrat Kikha’i argued during the press conference that the group People Mujahedeen of Iran “does not care about the losses of life inside the group due to the latest incidents given that casualties include its regular members not its general command. The high commands of PMOI do not acknowledge international laws and do not respect the laws of their host country”, he continued.
Kikha’i revealed that head of PMOI group Massoud Rajavi always calls for war and says: “If there is no war, I will make the war”.
The group always looks to interfere in Iraq’s affairs, separatist Ibrat Kikha’i said.
“During the first years of war, Rajavi was drawing in Iraqis to train them and give them positions inside the government. His aim was to stay in Iraq by using these people as a support for PMOI group”, Kikha’i said.
“Rajavi formed a committee inside the camp and established work departments for social communication with Iraqis. He drew in a number of Iraqi citizens and gave them personal salaries and handouts to turn against the government”, he added.
Separatist Abdul Latif Shadvari explained that he joined the PMOI group when he was 15 years old. He held important positions since 25 years and decided to secede from the group due to the pressures he has been subject to all these years. “PMOI members did not have the chance to express themselves freely during the last eight years”, Shadvari said.
“The group prepares us inside the camp for war even against the Iraqi Government. Members are trained on how to clash with Iraqi Forces and take away their arms. The group interferes in Iraq’s affairs. It interfered even in protests and spurred violence and sabotage”, he added.
“The group leaders believe in bloodsheds, suicide bombings and war which they regard as the main grounds of the group. Armed operations are one of the most important ideologies to the group”, separatist Latif Shadvari concluded.
Separatist leader Maryam Sinjari stated during the press conference that she is “a member of the command office in the group People Mujahedeen of Iran and a member of the Iranian opposition”. She seceded from the group after “a 20 year old enduring experience inside the group”, she said stressing that “head of the group Massoud Rajavi rejects others’ opinions and refuses any other command. He has been so for 30 years and is getting more oppressive day by day”.
“The group members do not enjoy any human rights since more than 25 years. The group’s internal structure does not allow anyone to express his view, call his family or use the phone or the internet”, she added.
“It is forbidden to have a family and children. Members of the group are not allowed to get engaged and married. The group counts for 3400 members and it is a few number facing 80 million people in Iran”, Sinjar continued.
“Anyone who secedes from the group is sentenced to death. This is what Rajavi always says. Two leaders of the high command were killed for this reason during the last years. Others are imprisoned inside the camp. Many members would like to get out of the camp but they don’t in fear for their life”, she concluded.
The presence of People Mujahedeen of Iran in Iraq has taken a new perspective lately. While the issue has been coming to light irregularly since the fall of the former regime, the settlement of this crisis seems to be imminent mainly after Iraq’s government issued a decision to end the presence of PMOI in Iraq by the end of 2011 considering the group as a terrorist group implicated in the killing of Iraqis.
The decision was backed by a Defense Ministry order to form an investigation committee into riots at Ashraf Camp that erupted on April 8. Iraq’s Defense Ministry suspects that PMOI group has used riot incidents to kill some of its members who wanted to leave the camp.
People Mujahedeen of Iran on the other hand accused Iraqi security forces of killing 30 of its members and wounding at least 300 others in clashes that erupted at Ashraf Camp.