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Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 20

++ Nearly all the news, posts and comments in both English and Farsi this week relate to the 1 September events at Camp Ashraf. Reports from Nejat Bloggers, AFP, Anti-War, Press TV, and the Tehran Times gave sometimes conflicting information, but it has been established that 52 had been killed and of the 42 remaining residents over twenty were injured while seven people (Massoud Rajavi’s personal security detail) are still missing. The Mojahedin press office issued press releases and photographs of the scene including the dead, and claimed that Camp Ashraf was attacked by an Iraqi SWAT team. The government of Iraq and military and security officials denied any involvement in the events inside the camp, but said MEK activists attacked soldiers outside the gate killing two.

++ The United Nations, European Union, European governments and the US all issued strong condemnation of the violence and offered condolences to the victims’ families. None assigned blame for the deaths and all asked that the Iraqi government launch an investigation into the event. Amnesty International noted that the events were “disputed”, and called for an impartial inquiry. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki set up an inquiry into the deaths, and on Monday 2nd a UN team visited the camp to try to establish what happened.

++ Iran’s Revolutionary Guard announced itself delighted at what it called ‘divine vengeance’ and congratulated the children of the Iraqi nation, pointing to the MEK’s role in suppressing a Kurdish uprising in 1991 on behalf of Saddam Hussein, as well as many assassinations carried out by the MEK in Iran.

++ In Farsi, writers expressed condemnation of the killings and expressed their condolences for the families of the victims. At the start of the week many were repeating the MEK’s claim that Iraqi forces attacked the camp, but by mid week there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Iraq did not do this. However, almost all of the writers blamed Massoud Rajavi for creating the conditions which led to these deaths. The gist of most posts and articles was, ‘You [Rajavi] have said for the past ten years that Nouri Al Maliki is an agent of the Iranian regime, so why are you keeping the members there? Let them go. Why are you there anyway, and what did you expect would happen?’

++ Interestingly the MEK use this event as the basis to continue its belligerent verbal attacks on defected members as though it was their fault that it happened.

++ The titles of some articles are interesting. In an article titled ‘Gentlemen come dine, the blood is ready’ Mohammad Razaghi explains how he believes the members were kept in Camp Ashraf to be killed. Ghorbanali Hosseinejat’s article is titled, ‘Yet another Ashura for the Mojahedin without Imam Hussein’. Arash Rezai’s article in Nimnegah details why the ideological leadership of a cult like the MEK needs blood.

++ Hossein Bagherzadeh, a respected human rights activist, wrote in Iran Emrooz. He examines various scenarios and describes how the event unfolded. He points out that if anyone criticises the MEK they become their enemy. But, he says, my writing is not about that, it is a serious reminder to the Mojahedin Khalq leaders that in a case when people are killed in cold blood, other Iranian opposition activists cannot refrain from expressing their views about the MEK and while condemning the killings, will also emphasize how much the MEK are hated by Iranians. Bagherzadeh says that up until now, anyone expressing that view would be labelled an agent of the Iranian regime. But he says ‘today I want them to look at themselves, what they have done and see that this is the result.’ He warns, ‘ I want them to look at themselves and change because tomorrow is not going to get any better than today’.

++ Behrouz Setudeh, a famous activist, writes for Iran Global. He asks how many times this kind of thing has to happen before the leaders of the MEK wake up. He reminds Rajavi of when he was in university with him 45 years ago and says, ‘you should remember international law, and you will see how silly and sad it is that in a country which has been at war, and whose government has changed, a group of foreigners sit tight and refuse to accept the order of the new government to leave their country. Even more ridiculous is that you are demanding that whatever you got from the old regime, the new government has to leave it for you… While you were working for Saddam Hussein your self-declared mission of ‘fighting the Iranian regime’ doesn’t change international laws and norms; you were still working for the Saddam regime.’ Setudeh concludes by suggesting that beyond all this, Rajavi should do one honourable thing and let the remaining MEK members go.

++ 139 people signed a letter condemning the attack and asking those in charge to follow up to make sure it cannot happen again.

++ A. Minoo Sepehr writes in response to this letter to remind the signatories how events unfolded and warns them not to fall into the trap of accepting MEK propaganda. He gives the example of the films of the alleged attackers saying they have no helmets or proper masks and no proper equipment. He also reminds them to look at what the MEK have shown as handcuffs which on the bodies are metal, but the unused ones also shown are plastic handcuffs. He highlights many similar discrepancies. Sepehr concludes by saying ‘yes, everyone is against this violence, but don’t think the version of events you heard from the MEK is the whole thing’.

++ Karim Gholami’s article titled ‘Did they have a second chance?’ explains that among those killed are some who tortured him while he was an MEK dissident. He says he wasn’t happy about their deaths because nobody deserves that kind of death. He says, ‘I had a second chance, I ran away and am now happy, but they didn’t. They took part in the torture but then they stayed and were killed as well’.

++ Among the dead is Amir, the son of Hadi Shams Haeri who died before being able to see his son in spite of years of campaigning for this right. Many people were deeply affected by this. Some consoled themselves by saying that according to their belief, whatever happened in this world, father and son will be reunited after death.

September 6, 2013

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