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Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 124

++ The Day of University Students on 16th Azar in Iran has its roots in anti-Imperialist, anti-American student protests at the time of President Nixon and the Shah when three students were killed, sparking further widespread unrest. This year, as every year, Rajavi tried to jump on the bandwagon even though the MEK is no longer following its original anti-Imperialist path. This was the worst year ever for Rajavi because although the MEK had more slogans than ever not a single mention was made about them in Iran on that day. Genuine opposition forces commented that the non-violent nature of this year’s student activity was highly significant. Students chose to engage in peaceful, civil protest such as meetings rather than street demonstrations. These oppositionists blamed the MEK for this curtailment. They say the students would like to be more active, but want to avoid any risk of being associated with the MEK. This deliberate disassociation with MEK violence is seen outside Iran too. Over and over we see that where there is a demonstration or a meeting, the moment an MEK logo or slogan appears everyone disperses and runs away.

++ Last week forty Camp Liberty residents arrived in Albania and another forty will be transferred soon. The number over the past two months is over 200. In Iraq, the MEK is trying to slow down this process – they can’t stop it – so they can absorb the new arrivals and keep them under control. This week ten people separated from the MEK in Tirana and renounced the group. The MEK spend a lot of money and has sent its top people there for damage limitation and control. Anyone who wants to leave is required to sign a document agreeing to receive $500 per month (the UNHCR pays $200 pm) and that the legal work for their refugee application and their accommodation needs will be done by MEK representatives. The also promise not to talk. The MEK then maintain these dissidents in MEK buildings separate from the other members. Last week, seven such people left and asked the UNHCR to register them separately as individuals with nothing to do with the MEK. The UNHCR local representative laid the MEK paperwork on the desk before them and refused, saying they had already chosen to allow the MEK to pursue their cases. Iran Interlink queried this at the UNHCR office in Geneva and were told that no such agreement had been made between the UNHCR and the Mojahedin Khalq. The only conclusion which can be drawn from this is that the local UNHCR staff are open to corruption by the MEK. According to independent sources in Tirana, the MEK had told the ex-members they must sign a new agreement that from January they will be paid only $350 pm, though the MEK will still do their legal paperwork. Some have refused and this is what prompted the seven to try to leave.

++ The MEK’s NCRI website has complained this week that the government of Iraq is not allowing the “24 martyrs plus one dead” from the attack on Camp Liberty in October to be buried. Massoud Khodabandeh commented on Facebook: After being informed about this, I investigated the problem. I can’t understand why the MEK have a website called the National Council of Resistance of Iran which has no Farsi language on it at all. Instead, it has seven other languages, including the newly added Albanian language. I called Baghdad and enquired from officials there. They said “there is a person who calls himself the legal representative of the MEK – which we don’t recognise anyway – but who doesn’t know anything about law and is not even capable of arguing on the level of an ordinary person. He insists we hand over these bodies so they can hold a cultish ceremony in Camp Liberty and bury these bodies there. We have answered him clearly that these bodies are to be handed over to their next of kin and not their so-called ideological leader – we don’t recognise that. We have also informed him that if no next of kin come forward, they will be will be buried the same as everyone else in a cemetery and you are welcome to participate or help in that ceremony. We also reminded him that Camp Liberty is a transit camp and not a cemetery. Especially considering that relatives are not allowed inside so they wouldn’t be able to pay their respects to their relatives’ graves. But apparently the MEK can’t listen to or comprehend logic.”

In English:

++ Nejat Society published an open letter to the UNHCR representative in Baghdad. Mahmonir Iranpour, the sister of Ahmadreza and Mohammadreza Iranpour, has asked for help in getting to visit her brothers in Camp Liberty. “I have repetitively asked for visiting both through Email or telephone contact. But, every time what I receive says that MKO members don’t allow any chance of visiting our brothers. Here is the question, generally wherever a group of people are under control of a commissioner, they should abide by the commissioner orders. Your responses in this regard are not acceptable. Unfortunately, it seems that instead of employing international regulations as regards defending refugees’ and their families’ rights, the commissioner acts against United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees committee decisions which is detrimental to those imprisoned in Camp Liberty. It is our right to meet our brothers and we expect you to defend this right, not to deprive us of it…”

++ Mazda Parsi writing for Nejat Bloggers describes the MEK’s fear of the members’ families as a sign of the cult nature of the group. Using several examples of estranged families unable to make contact with their loved ones inside the MEK’s camp, Parsi says, “One sure sign of someone being involved in a cult is that there is a clear separation from family and friends. This sign is clearly observed in the Cult of Rajavi.”

++ Iran Interlink reports on a “freak section in the House Report 114-270 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, gives us the ‘SENSE OF CONGRESS ON THE SECURITY AND PROTECTION OF IRANIAN DISSIDENTS LIVING IN CAMP LIBERTY, IRAQ’. According to the report it is highly significant that neither the Mojahedin Khalq nor the Rajavis are mentioned. Apparently, Senate has resisted lobbying efforts by the MEK’s advocates in the US, and has given the green light to cooperation between the UNHCR and the government of Iraq to bypass MEK leaders and to deal with residents of Camp solely as individuals. This will help expedite their removal from Iraq.

++ Anne Khodabandeh writes ‘Brainwashing? There should be a law against it’ in which she cites the MEK as just one of many examples of how brainwashing can be used to enslave and exploit victims. Giving a very specific definition of what brainwashing is, Khodabandeh says, “public apprehension over the war on terrorism in Syria and the perceived threat of blowback, is the perfect opportunity for the government to introduce and explain the phenomenon of brainwashing in this narrowly defined sense as an element of the Prevent Strategy. The introduction of a criminal offence which allows the detection, prosecution and punishment of this abhorrent behaviour will aid public understanding and allay fears.”

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