Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 46

++ Ben Emmerson QC is the UNHCR’s special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. After his recent report about human rights, several people from different places wrote letters to him to bring the situation of the victims trapped inside Camp Liberty to his attention. Mehdi Nikbakht from Setaregan Association in Switzerland wrote a moving letter, pleading on behalf of former colleagues and friends. He starts, “The Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) tries to portray a democratic, freedom loving, pro-human rights and pro-women’s rights face in the west. The reality, and what we have seen from the inside of this organisation is 180 degrees contrary to this claim. We have never seen anything but suppression and injustice. The leaders of MEK harshly crush any voice of criticism and they go to extreme extents to silence the voice of the survivors and ex members. They constantly spend money and energy to character assassinate and intimidate the vocal critics and survivors by calling them mercenaries, agents, traitors, etc. They try to dismiss their testimonies about the reality of the crimes they have suffered themselves and/or have seen at the hands of MEK leaders.” Nikbakht lists several abuses committed by the MEK against the members including forced divorce and celibacy, forced hard labour, forced separation from families, imprisonment and torture of dissenting members etc. Asking for investigation into these abuses Nikbakht says, “The MEK leaders do not want the trapped people to be moved to third countries and deliberately resist any attempt to facilitate such a transfer. They see this as an end to their cultish organisation and more than that, are afraid of the people reaching European countries where they can start exposing the real nature of the organisation and what has happened to them. They are afraid of the truth coming out.”

++ There have been more reactions to Maryam Rajavi’s New Year message in which she ridiculously claimed that the MEK have won in Iraq and the Iraqi and Iranian governments and Lebanon, Syria and parts of America and Europe have lost. In general the reaction has been, ‘Never mind about your views, could you not at least acknowledge the suffering of your people in the camps in Iraq, the disaster your members have fallen into?’ Mohammad B. also commented, saying that last year, she came out with a placard in her hand which read ‘this is the year the regime will be toppled’. This year she has come up with the same slogan and that only which reminded us of the past thirty years of her saying the same thing. He describes the rapid downfall of the MEK after the fall of Saddam, saying that after 30 years Maryam Rajavi is ‘trying to cut her nose to keep her face red’ (slap her own face to make it look healthy) but nobody is buying it.

++ Said Shahedi Mirzand writes about the shaky internal situation of the MEK. Quoting from one of the MEK’s phalangist members, Hassan Habbibi (who is famous for attacking people in the streets of Europe and swearing at critics, etc), Shahedi Mirzand says that while he is living in Paris and advocating the deaths of the people in Camp Liberty, it is interesting that even he has been writing that Rajavi should really not talk about toppling the regime this year. Even though Hassan Habibi knows this is the only justification and rallying cry Rajavi has to keep the cult together.

++ Hanif Heydar Nejad, a recently separated internal critic of the MEK, has published an article on his site looking over the last (Persian) year and “what we learned and how we learned to think freely and talk freely”. He talks about last year’s disasters and the exposure of human rights abuses by Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, and says that was when he and some of his friends separated and started talking alongside Iraj Mesdaghi. And “by doing that we freed ourselves and started a movement to think freely and talk freely and respect other people’s beliefs and more than anything, accept that we were wrong”.

++ M. Eftekhari from Nejat Association wrote an article in response titled, ‘A criticism of Hanif Heydar Nejad’s article’. He puts it to him that there has been a stream of disaffected members over the past twenty years, and “the point that you suddenly find yourself at a turning point is of course good, but remember that everyone except the MEK already knew what you now profess to know. If it wasn’t for them I’m not sure you would have had the guts to be the first one to do that. Even so, I am happy you people are out as well.” Massoud Khodabandeh commented in response to M. Eftekhari agreeing with him and reminding the people who first came out how they suffered and couldn’t even get a job in the west because of serious pressure from the MEK. They opened the way, says Khodabandeh and names former members like the late Hadi Shams Haeri, Said Shahsavandi in Germany, Ali Zarkesh who was killed inside the MEK, Parviz Yaghoubi in Paris, and many others who became the cutting edge. “They opened a space for the others to follow to the point that leaving the MEK is now a value, whether those who have come out understand it or not”, Khodabandeh says. “It is not an excuse to say you haven’t lived the history and therefore wasn’t to know. You have to read this history and find out what did happen. It is important that the people who escape the camps [Ashraf and Liberty] and come to live in normal society investigate what was happening to those others while they were inside the MEK and had no access to that information.”

++ Iraj Mesdaghi wrote about the Indian fortune teller and, as usual, was attacked by writers using pseudonyms in MEK websites. This week Mesdaghi responded with a note on his site saying, “I thought Rajavi would be more clever than to answer this. He should have let it die, not keep it alive. Apparently he doesn’t realise he is talking to someone who has lived with this organisation for many years and who knows it well, therefore I will dig a bit more.” Mesdaghi published pictures and documents from Spring 1984 when Massoud Rajavi was in Paris, and they had brought this same fortune teller there to present a prize to Massoud Rajavi on behalf of another organisation in India. Mesdaghi mocks, “Last time they brought him to Paris and paid him to present the prize. This time they couldn’t get him to Paris and he had to post it”. He says, “It is interesting that Rajavi’s papers all attack me saying that by exposing this I have been siding with the Intelligence Ministry of Iran. They don’t see that the creation of such a situation is to blame, not its exposure. Rajavi is doing the damage himself, not those who talk about it.”

++ A. Minoo Sepher published an article on the website ‘Women trapped in the Rajavi cult’, titled ’1392 (last Persian year), from the collapse of the terrible towers of Ashraf to the promotion of Maryam Rajavi by an Indian fortune teller’. He goes into detail about events of the last year and how at the end of it, Rajavi is reduced to trying to survive by being awarded a fortune teller’s prize, by making a film in Hollywood with Mansour Ghadarkhah and a few other desperate retired actors from the time of the Shah, and then goes on to expose the real issues, such as the UN report which says the MEK are to blame for obstructing the transfer process out of Camp Liberty and Iraq, the situation of the families not able to contact their loved ones, and the MEK trying to hide their torturers from the law. The article concludes with a prediction, that contrary to the last thirty years of Rajavi saying the toppling of the regime is imminent, “I personally predict that this year is the last year of Rajavi and his cult, and he will be toppled by the people within. I stand by my word and will talk about it when it has happened.”

++ Bahar Irani from Mojahedin.ws comments on ‘The MEK’s contradictory announcement about Catherine Ashton’s trip to Iran.’ He quotes some of their writing which is full of swearing at Cathy Ashton, and her predecessor Javier Solana, for engaging with Iran in line with their jobs. The MEK say that “none of you [EU negotiators] will be able to stop the regime being overthrown by armed struggle”. On the other hand, the MEK portray the negotiations between Ashton, Iran and the 5+1 as showing the desperation of Iran so that “whatever they do at the start of this conversation, they will be giving up all their nuclear facilities in order to survive, and even then they will collapse very soon”. Irani points out that the MEK can’t come out clearly with what is their actual initial estimate, is this something in favour of Iran or in favour of the West. What is their real analysis? Will Iran be reconciled with the West [by giving up its nuclear programme] or will Iran be toppled and invaded by the West? The MEK put out both these scenarios and every day they change their minds. Following this Irani points out that, “The MEK, after 30 years of swearing at each other and ex members and everyone else, they have forgotten how to talk properly and can’t distinguish between what they write about Catherine Ashton and what they do in their internal brainwashing sessions. This easily exposes their true nature – how they see the world.”

++ This week the MEK published a letter written by Tareq Al Hashemi (the fugitive Iraqi who was Maliki’s deputy and who is wanted in Iraq on terrorism charges and who has been sentenced to death in absentia), to Ban Ki Moon demanding that the UN should do something to protect the people in Camp Liberty, and ironically claiming, as the MEK falsely claim, that the government of Iraq doesn’t allow any investigation into the attacks. Many analyses say that on one hand, this man who was trying to become a figurehead and bring the Baathists back to lead Iraq, has been reduced to someone who copies MEK letters. Even the last time they used him in Brussels to speak, the reaction from the government of Iraq brought the European Parliament to denounce the event and announce clearly that there was no official invitation and this was a private meeting since he is a wanted man. By writing this propaganda letter, say the Farsi analysts, Al Hashemi has found his place. Another point is that in writing to Ban Ki Moon – who already knows him and the MEK full well – this letter has surely been written for internal consumption, to keep the people inside the MEK happy. Over the last few months reports from UNAMI, UNHCR, the USA and the GOI have bluntly put the blame on the MEK for not giving access to the people in Camp Liberty, and even the UN’s newly appointed Jane Hol Lute is struggling to have direct access to the witnesses. A year ago, in March 3013, Ban Ki Moon praised the work of his former representative in Iraq and urged “those who express support for the residents of Camp Hurriya and the remaining residents of another camp, New Iraq, to stop spreading insults and falsehoods about Mr. Kobler, who heads the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and instead help to promote a durable solution.”

++ Much English news about the MEK is still concentrating on the revelations made by Gareth Porter in his book ‘Manufactured Crisis’. The MEK have not responded. Perhaps they are still in shock!

 28 March 2014

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