Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 28 February 2014
Three main issues dominate the news in Farsi this week. We have given special attention to these.
++ In an Open Letter dated January 21 addressed to Jane Holl Lute, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General for the Relocation of Camp Hurriya (aka Liberty) Residents Outside of Iraq, fifty nine former MEK members ask her to help the people in Iraq and in Albania. They emphatically ask her to bypass the MEK leaders because they are the problem and not part of the solution. Several Iranians resident in Europe who have contact with their friends in Tirana are now reporting that the MEK are exerting huge pressure on the disaffected members, who have been moved to another building block, to sign a petition against these fifty nine people and denounce them as “agents of the regime”. Out of 210 individuals transferred to Albania from Camp Liberty, 75 have deserted the MEK. Except for a few who have money from their families the rest must rely either on $200 per month from the UNHCR or alternatively the MEK will give them $500 per month on condition they work on the internet (to promote the MEK) and not work against them in any way.
The MEK’s lead contact who claims to be representative of Rajavi (and is wanted in Iraq for criminal activity), called Esmail Mortezai, nickname Javad Khorrasan, along with his deputy, Farzaneh Meidanshahi (who is also wanted in Iraq for criminal activity), are threatening ex members that the MEK will withhold the money and will make sure they are labeled as “agents of the regime” and, since they claim to be working under the protection of the Pentagon, have threatened the refugees that they can easily be “vanished” if they complain and do not comply with MEK demands.
The MEK have begun to make an example of one of the outspoken ex members who refuses to cooperate with them called Ehsan Bidi in order to show others what could be done against them if they start talking against the MEK. An NCRI (another name for the MEK) announcement claims Bidi was sent directly from Iran’s intelligence ministry in Iraq (which they claim is Hotel Mohajer, see next item), to Tirana. Bidi, who is a vocal critic among the refugees in Tirana has refuted this information and says this “will not stop me exposing what the MEK did in Iraq”. Although the MEK claim he has been sent from Iraq to Tirana by the MOIS, Bidi was interviewed by the UNHCR, Amnesty International and other human rights organisations after he was arrested in transit in Cairo airport while he was trying to get to Europe, a journey that took nearly a year, and during which journey his friend died in Cairo airport of a heart attack.
++ Since 2008 ex members of the MEK who managed to run away from Camp Ashraf or Camp Liberty have been given temporary refuge in Hotel Mohajer until they either go to third countries or return to Iran and their families. The hotel has been allocated and kept secure by the Iraqi authorities exclusively for this purpose. Apparently, after all this time the MEK have suddenly woken up because for the last two weeks they have been claiming that the hotel is a joint headquarters for Iraqi and Iranian intelligence to put pressure on ex members to say things against Rajavi. This is why it is significant that the MEK claim Ehsan Bidi had been sent to Tirana from there (see previous item).
Ali Khatami, who currently resides in Hotel Mohajer after recently escaping the MEK camp, sent a letter to Iran Interlink this week explaining the situation at the hotel. Khatami says the MEK rants are a decoy and explains why. He starts by challenging Rajavi, saying “Even if Rajavi’s claim is right and I have been put under pressure to speak against him and everything I said is a lie, Rajavi himself knows that when I say he and his wife ordered the massacre of the Kurds over the wireless, I was listening at the receiving end. When I say he has killed scores of people, the graves of the victims are in Kurdistan and the survivors of the attacks are still there in their hundreds. And nothing I say is without proof and evidence.”
Having introduced himself in this way, Khatami explains, “Having said that, I know exactly where he is burning so that since 2008 he has, only just now, suddenly discovered a hotel where ex members go. The reason is a visit from Jane Holl Lute [Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General for the Relocation of Camp Hurriya (aka Liberty) Residents Outside of Iraq], who along with her assistant visited the ex members and wrote everything we said down and promised she would have more frequent contact with us as part of her work.” Khatami goes on to say, “Rajavi may think she came here because we are more important, but the truth is, she came here because we are free and accessible. She cannot access people and talk freely with people inside Camp Liberty without the presence of Rajavi’s henchmen. UNAMI [in its Half Yearly Report on Human Rights – January to June 2013] clearly describes the various obstructive behaviour of the MEK and that is why Jane Holl Lute had to come to us.”
In answer to Rajavi’s assertion that the hotel is run jointly by Iranian and Iraqi Intelligence, Khatami has this to say: “Rajavi is trying to say that there has been contact between the people in the hotel and Iran. Well I can tell you that from where I am sitting there is no contact unless people want to return to Iran under the mediation of the Red Cross. In that case, in order to get their passports they need contact and interviews with the Iranian embassy, which they have. Did Rajavi think they should have got their Iranian passports from Maryam Rajavi in Paris to go to Iran? I can also tell you from where I am sitting that we have no restrictions, contrary to Camp Liberty where we were forbidden to see our mothers and fathers for decades. We all have access to the internet and can Skype in privacy from our own rooms, contrary to conditions in Camp Liberty where we couldn’t talk to anyone privately. We all have the phone number and emails of the UN, UNAMI and ICRC representatives, who regularly visit us in the hotel as well.”
He also mentions that the openness of the hotel was exactly the reason that Massoud Dalili was able to simply walk out and go to another hotel which sadly gave the MEK the opportunity to kidnap him and take him to Camp Ashraf where they killed him on September 1st and burned his face to disguise his identity. Khatami derides Rajavi, saying, “You claim that this is a joint venture between Iran and Iraq because we are being guarded by Iraqi security. What did you expect? That the Swedish would be guarding the building? These Iraqi guards are the reason you cannot kidnap us like you did Dalili.”
Khatami again derides the MEK’s statement in the NCRI website, saying, “All the money and facilities we have been provided by the UNHCR and ICRC you have put it as MOIS. Not only have you never helped anyone yourself – and that’s why we had to run away and leave all our personal possession, clothes, photos etc and run away – but now that we are getting help from international bodies you are blaming MOIS. Everyone can see you are trying to make people afraid and not run away. It’s not as though everyone doesn’t see what you are doing.”
++ In another, separate letter to Iran Interlink, Ali Khatami also mentions that he has been Skypeing his friends in Albania, who say they are mortally afraid of the terror teams created by Esmail Mortezai, Rajavi’s representative in Albania. They have told him the MEK have created ten teams of three MEK operatives in order to create fear among the ex members. Khatami warns in his letter that he is surprised that although human rights organisations can see what is happening against these innocent people – who don’t want to continue as terrorists with the MEK – they remain silent. On the other hand, he warns European and Western governments that “if the MEK are allowed to create terror teams in Albania and elsewhere without hindrance, you are not far away from them doing what they already did in Iraq and now here, and you will suddenly find yourselves victims of this group and you will have to pay a higher price to stop them in future.”
++ In another move, a famously lumpen person who fronts himself as a filmmaker called Mansour Ghadarkhah, has started an advertising campaign claiming to be looking for investment to make a documentary film called ‘The Birth of Terror’. Ironically in his advert he has claimed “we will put Maliki in his place”, that is, the prime minister of Iraq. For people in the know, it is obvious this is a money laundry stunt to enable the MEK to spend some money to make a propaganda film for themselves. But they need money laundering techniques because this will be very expensive and will probably cost several million dollars. Many critics have reacted to this new line of Rajavi to try to discredit anyone who says or does anything against him. One of which is Nasrin Ebrahimi from Switzerland who has simply asked if Mansour Ghadarkhah would like to interview the relatives of some of the twelve thousand Iranian victims and twenty five thousand Iraqi victims of MEK terrorism in his documentary, and, if he is interested, she says there are hundreds of ex MEK members who can tell him “what terrorism means inside an organisation”.
Ghadarkhah was exposed a few months ago by Mahnaz Ghezlou in Pejvak Iran website. After she wrote an article criticizing Rajavi, he called her a mercenary and tasked Ghadarkhah to character assassinate her. Ghezlou’s then wrote a response titled, ‘Dear Mr Rajavi, apparently it is not me who is a mercenary it is you and Ghadarkhah’. Along with the article she published documents, including emails between Ghadarkhah and his NCRI contact or handler about his expenses and salary – emails which had been inadvertently sent to her because Ghadarkhah’s handler was also called Mahnaz.
In continuation of this issue, Minou Sepher published an article addressed to a retired film director, Massoud Assadallahi, resident in LA since after the revolution, asking him to come clean about his relations with Maryam Rajavi and the MEK in Paris. She puts it to him that “there are plenty of facts about your relations with this group and I and others know that you have been on and off with them, but you have not been able to settle a price to work for them. Clearly you are still in doubt this time about whether you can get enough out of them.”
Massoud Khodabandeh has commented in Facebook about Assadallahi that although it is not important in our work [in Iran Interlink], still, as someone who has made films, some of which I like, if anyone has contact with him, please warn him not to fall into the trap if he can. Khodabandeh says he knows that all Assadallahi’s meetings with the MEK since 1994 have been filmed by MEK intelligence and these films were transferred to the MEK’s main archive in Camp Ashraf. But in the chaos of the war these videos have been exposed and many others now have copies. Khodabandeh says, “If you don’t believe me, perhaps you can remember that in 1994 you had a meeting with Mehdi Abrishamchi in Auvers sur Oise in which the film shows the whole meeting and then shows how Abrishamchi followed you all the way to the car where a driver was waiting and was talking to you all this time. And this film shows that you are bartering over the budget – which apparently didn’t work out since you didn’t produce anything – and how you claimed that for such a project you would need ‘good tools’, and then you name people as good tools and say these people (actors) are expensive.” Khodabandeh suggests, “I hope this is not too little or too late and you can rise above the fear and the greed evoked in you by the MEK. And remember Marzieh because she started out thinking she was too clever, before falling into the trap and eventually dying in their shit.”
++ Iraqi media reports that Iraq is ready to extradite Mojahedin Khalq criminals to Iran.
The Iraqi Justice Minister has said that Iraq is required to repatriate Mojahedin-e Khalq criminals to Iran due to the memorandum of understanding signed to facilitate the extradition of criminals.
“If Iran wants to take these individuals, we will extradite the most wanted MKO members to Tehran in coordination with the Iraq Judiciary system,” Hassan al-Shimari told Habilian’s correspondent in Baghdad. Asked about the lawsuits filed against the terrorist MKO group, al-Shimari said, “The case of MKO belongs to the National Security Council not to the Justice Ministry.”