Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 94

++ The appearance of Maryam Rajavi by videolink (because she is refused a visa to enter the USA) in Congress last week attracted a flurry of responses from critics and ex members in Iran Interlink’s Farsi site. These largely ignored American politics and instead demanded to know what was being done to help the 2000+ hostages being held captive in Camp Liberty by the Rajavis. Open letters from families and ex members were addressed to Ban Ki Moon and UN Rapporteur Ahmad Shahid asking ‘where is the international community, why do you not have power over a cult?’ Several petitions sprung up with the same demands.

++ The daughter of former MEK member Ghorban Ali Hossein Nejad had visited Baghdad with her husband in another attempt to get a meeting with her estranged sister inside Camp Liberty. Along with several other families, she met with UN officials to plead for help in securing the safety and freedom of their loved ones from the camp. The MEK reacted by publishing a photograph of her but with the faces of UN officials blacked out and a caption underneath saying this was evidence of her working with the Iranian Intelligence ministry and Pasdaran.

++ The situation in Albania has worsened for around five hundred ex MEK members who were transferred there over the past two years. They report that Rajavi has sent two top level fixers – Mehdi Abrishamchi and Zohreh Merikhi – to intervene to stop the rapid dissolution of the MEK. Growing numbers are escaping the hold of the MEK and the cult is very worried about them exposing the internal crimes and abuses to the world. To stop people talking the MEK has employed intimidation tactics, saying that because the group is backed by the might of America and Israel it only takes a phone call for anybody’s refugee status to be denied and all aid cut off. Their message is that only the MEK can endorse a person’s refugee status and allow them to go to another country, claiming falsely that they endorsed the transfer of those accepted by the US. The MEK also says it will pay people if they declare themselves to the UN as ‘Mojahedin’ not as individuals and insist that they want to stay in Albania. This is interpreted as further evidence that the MEK is seeking to establish a closed cult base in that country with the intention of bringing Massoud Rajavi there. Outspoken critics of the MEK in Albania are now openly threatened in public meetings. People like Ehsan Bidi are told in front of the others that they will be killed and nobody will know how or by whom.

++ Former Iranian President Abol Hassan Bani Sadr has published the first of a series of damning articles in his newspaper ‘Enghelab Eslami’. Bani Sadr has begun to explain the real reasons why he left Massoud Rajavi and his Mojahedin Khalq after they arrived in Paris in 1981. It was not only, he says, because the MEK were traitors. In more detail he exposes what the MEK were doing in collaboration with Saddam Hussein without the knowledge of most of the MEK members. Further articles will be published revealing this hidden history.

In English:

 

++ The headlines tell the story this week as several articles reported on Maryam Rajavi’s testimony to Congress. ‘Cult Leader Will Tell Congress: Fight ISIS by Regime Change in Iran’ says Ali Gharib in The Nation. An analysis which was confirmed after the event with the headline ‘Controversial MEK Leader, Asked to Talk Islamic State, Instead Talks Iran’ by David Francis in Foreign Policy blog The Cable. Anger at the inclusion of Rajavi was expressed in Al Monitor’s article ‘Congressional invite to MEK (Mojahedin Khalq) sparks furious backlash’ with the succinct and accurate reaction from America’s former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford who said “What the fuck do the MEK know about the Islamic State?” He only agreed to testify in a separate panel because he said American soldiers deserved the benefit of his expertise. Ex-counterterrorism coordinator Daniel Benjamin refused to testify because of Rajavi citing as his reason that he “did not believe the MEK had anything to contribute to a discussion of [IS], and that this would be a distraction from an important issue,” he told Al-Monitor. “I said the story of the day would be the rehabilitation of the MEK, and I did not want to be associated with that in any way.”

Most articles pointed out the financial links between the MEK and members of Congress who support the cult.

In an article titled ‘Congress cannot rely on Rajavi’s testimony – Camp Liberty residents must be taken to safety now’, Anne and Massoud Khodabandeh predicted that Rajavi would not be able to criticise the Islamic State because she is on the same side as them. They urged members of Congress to question Rajavi about her hostages in Camp Liberty.

“Instead of condemning the Islamic State, Maryam Rajavi will speak about how the Iranian government wants to kill the people in Camp Liberty and is plotting every day to find ways to massacre them all. This is an old script. It has been the MEK script for thirty years. Does Ted Poe think the MEK has suddenly flipped sides and will line up with Iran against the Islamic State?

Whatever threats are faced by the residents of Camp Liberty, one thing is certain. The reason they cannot leave is because the MEK leaders refuse to allow them to leave. Members of Congress should robustly question Maryam Rajavi about that. They need to ask why the UN is unable to progress its work with these vulnerable people. Why, if they are in such direct danger, she doesn’t allow the Iraqi authorities to remove them to separate accommodation. The Iraqis have offered to place the MEK in various secure hotels and apartments in order to make life safer and more comfortable for them. The MEK have refused. Congress needs to ask Maryam Rajavi why the residents of Camp Liberty are not able to make contact with their relatives. Hundreds of families have travelled to Iraq since 2003 attempting to make contact with their loved ones. The MEK have accused them all of being ‘agents of the Iranian regime sent to kill them’. Is this plausible? Most of the family members are old people; the parents and siblings and in some cases the children of people trapped in Camp Liberty. Are they really desirous of massacring their loved ones?”

May 1, 2015

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